First of all: if you haven't watched Netflix's Tiger King documentary series yet, then what the hell are you waiting for? It's got everything: tiger, ligers, lions, and bears; gay polygamists who are also straight; murder cover-ups galore; lots and lots of meth; fucking tigers; straight polygamists who are really just harem cult leaders who also own tigers; mullets; tigers; country pop songs about tigers and the Deep State; more meth mouth; more tigers; more polyamory; more conspiracies; FBI entrapment schemes; strip club owners who are also narcs; that libertarian campaign manager who actually seems like a decent guy; the multiple employees with amputated limbs who also seem like decent people in spite of their tragic stories; more guns and explosions; and of course, tigers.
But one thing it doesn't go into enough in its already-overpacked-seven-episodes is the Tiger King's alleged music career. While the series shows some clips from Joe "Tiger King" Exotic's country music videos, it doesn't explain who actually wrote and produced those songs, or let you hear any of them in their full WTF glory.
Slate was fortunate enough to interview the songwriters involved in such hits as "I Saw A Tiger" — and if you've seen the show, you won't be surprised that they were kind of conned by Joe Exotic, too, just like everyone else around him.
But perhaps even more glorious is that people like BJ Barham (above), one of my favorite alt-country singer/songwriters and the frontman for American Aquarium, has already taken to covering Joe Exotic's Tiger songs. From Slate:
Barham admits he had to do 15 or 20 takes of "I Saw a Tiger" to get one where he made it through the entire song without laughing. But he's also genuinely admiring of its power. "It's so big and bombastic. It's everything I love about cheesy anthem rock," he says. "It could be an a '80s Springsteen song if it wasn't about the tiger holocaust." Recording the cover was a product of coronavirus stir-craziness, but Barham says he expects to be playing it onstage long after the quarantine has lifted. "It's gonna be my walkout song for at least a year," he says. "Lighters up before you even play the first note."
Here's the original music video, too, just in case you're not sold on watching Tiger King yet. Because if the world needs anything right now, it's more stadium anthems about the Tiger Holocaust and the Deep State.
Behind the Music of the Tiger King [Sam Adams / Slate]