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Song You Need to Know: The Waterboys’ Delightfully Zany Ode to Dennis Hopper

If a hip-hop-tinged ode to film star Dennis Hopper performed by a Scotsman sounds random to you — well, yes, it is. But it’s also one of the most entertaining, catchy tracks on the Waterboys’ latest album, Good Luck, Seeker, or for that matter in their entire catalog.

Frontman Mike Scott wastes no time jumping into the verses, accompanied by a clap-along beat and plenty of vocoder: “Dude with a ‘tache on a chariot chopper/Reb’ without a cause, man, what a showstopper/He was present at the birth of the teenybopper/Sucking on a psychedelic pink gobstopper.”

Then comes the country-tinged, Americana-style chorus. It’s all about cowboy hats, sharp suits, and the late Easy Rider actor’s iconic elan, which Scott has approximated of late with his customary cowboy-hippie attire.

As the first comment on the music video reads, “Who knew you could rhyme so many words with Hopper?” The Waterboys do their damnedest to find all of them: flip-flopper, party-popper, proper, flat-topper, name-dropper, and, of course, hip-hopper. It’s a delightfully silly track packed with silver screen nostalgia (making reference to Hopper’s early role in 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause) and tongue-twisting wordplay: According to Scott, “Freaks and psychonauts and sick hip-hoppers/Love Dennis Hopper.”

Good Luck, Seeker is the latest in a trio of albums that have found the Eighties rock band mixing beats and genres to head-spinning effect. From the raucous “Soul Singer” to the more traditional, folky “Low Down in the Broom” to the completely bonkers “The Golden Work,” the Waterboys aren’t afraid to be strange or silly or, perhaps, off-putting to the unadventurous. They’re having fun and it shows.

Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.

Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.

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