Remember that movie Garden State? With Zach Braff? And there's that now-iconic scene where Natalie Portman's character hands him a pair of headphones and says, "You gotta hear this one song, it'll change your life," and that's how The Shins got famous?
Well, Alternative Tentacles, the record label owned by former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra, decided to update that moment with a song that will actually change your life:
That tune, if you're not familiar, was "Suck A Caribou's Ass" by the late great Wesley Willis, a Chicago-based musician and artist who gained a cult following in the 90s for, well, songs like that. Willis grew up in an abusive household and struggled with schizophrenia; he was frequently unhoused, before passing away in 2003.
When I was in middle school, I knew some older punk rock guys who played in a Wesley Willis tribute band. As a middle schooler, the idea of a "homeless schizophrenic with a Casio keyboard" was obviously too hilarious to pass up. As I've gotten older, I've realized that — as absurd as some of these songs may seem — Willis used his music and art as his primary form of therapy for the trauma he dealt with throughout his entire life. And I think that's pretty powerful. (Someday I want to write a Wesley Willis jukebox musical that seems ridiculous and then, by the end, flips it around to make the audience realize their complicity in making a mockery of genuine human suffering.)
That gives a sort of meta-level gravitas to the clip above. Yes, it's absurd that Natalie Portman's "song that will change your life" is just a litany of sex acts involving crude names for animal orifices. But also: there's a lot you can learn about empathy and healing (and humor) from the life of Wesley Willis, if you let yourself. And that can be genuinely life-changing.