Wesley and I

I reckon more people have heard a Wesley Willis track than those who like him or even know he exists.  He is most famous for his track Rock and Roll McDonalds that was used in the soundtrack of the film Super Size Me.  In fact if there was ever going to be a song that was almost written for the film it would be that. Take the descriptive lyrics

McDonalds hamburgers are the worst
They are worse than Burger King
A Big Mac has 26 grams of fat
A Quarter Pounder has 28 grams of fat

When I first heard the track on the compilation album Songs in the Key of Z, I wanted to hear more.  So I went on YouTube and lo and behold if there weren’t hundreds of entries for Wesley Willis.  This is one of many reasons why I love the internet.  Discovering that your niche market in bizarre taste isn’t so niche after all is a wonderful feeling.  I mean if it wasn’t for the internet that German guy would never have found someone to eat.  Personally, I’d prefer a Big Mac.

Now some of the Wesley Willis videos was simply a photo of Wesley Willis with one of his songs playing in the background and a few of these have clocked up over two hundred thousand hits.  Some fans including myself have made their own videos.  And if you search deep enough there is fan footage of Wesley Willis in concert and even a short documentary. Speaking of documentaries, there’s actually been two bona fide docs on the great man, The Daddy of rock and Roll which is a sweet but melancholy film about the day to day life of Wesley and the other is Wesley Willis’ Joyrides.

As I got more and more into Wesley Willis I decided to play some of the tracks to my friends.  They had to be very select.  The kind of friends that already think I’m a bit off hinged so wouldn’t really bat an eyelid if they thought he was crap.  Luckily some of them fell in love with his as much as I did.  So much so I even persuade two friends and fellow stand up comedians Nik Coppin and Paul Gannon to do a music video.

To be honest we filmed for about 20 minutes and spent the rest of the day messing about and going to the pub.  I did a day with Nik and day with Nik and Paul.  Fellow comic we’d met during the Edinburgh festival Abigoliah Schamaun happened to be in the area and helped us with holding the camera and pulling the string behind Nik’s back for the web effect.  If you look closely you can see her arms as she pulls the strings.

I loved filming this as I could see the quizzical expressions on everyone’s faces as I told them what to so.  It all seemed so bizarre to them, but I knew exactly what I wanted.  The fact it came out different and I changed my mind as I went along had nothing to do with it.

Now, once we did the Spiderman video, the hits were not coming in.  In a week we had about 50 and that was mainly us checking to see how many hits we had.  But undeterred I decided to make another one.  I was unsure which one to do and on asking Master Coppin he said, “Chicken Cow” of course.  So we went about it fairly quickly.  I worked out a rough script and to be honest kind of stuck to it.  It was Nik’s idea to have the chicken cow come out of the fridge.  I worked on the whole wino in the park bit and decided to make myself Nik’s brother by linking out stories.  That’s why we’re both wearing Santa hats and I throw him the gun.  You see, clever.  It was Paul’s idea to do the whole The Ring thing.  I hadn’t seen the film, but from what he said it was a great idea.  So I went on a crash course of The Ring and surprisingly loved it.  I haven’t seen a decent horror film for years as there seems to be too much emphasis on the gore rather than a good scary plot.  But this was ace.  I watch the American version as I didn’t have the time for the merits of modern horror art house subtitled version, which normally panders to my pretentious pseudo middle-class leanings.

Then finally I recruited Sean Briughtman and Neil McFarlane to join me for the shoot in the pub.  Well I say recruited, what I really mean is they were doing the same gig as me and I bought them a pint of Guinness each.  I loved the way the pair of them threw themselves into it.  All that stuff with Neil kicking his hands and legs in the air was him doing it on the spot.  One take.  They asked about doing another one and I said no, it was perfect as it was.  This video making lark is a piece of piss and it’s great fun to do.

Now I really wanted to do one more but really wanted to get on with my video podcast.  So quite a few months went by and I eventually came across the track called Battlestar Galactica.  I was over the moon about the thought of this and when I listened to it I was overjoyed.  I was a massive fan of the original series when I was a kid and I watched every episode of the re imagined se.  So I was happy to hear Wesley obviously had never seen and episode and just talked about the Iraq war in a very pro American way for the chorus, simply chanting Battlestar Galactica for the chorus.  This when I decided that this must have a music video.  Rather than get a cast together I just strung together a load of space battles from the TV series and added as many of the cast saying frak during the instrumental break.  In a way doing this one was the most time consuming out of the three.  There are surprisingly less battle sequences than you think and there’s only about two or three fraks per episode.  So that’s my trilogy.  I’ll have to move onto other people to do videos for.


About Mike Belgrave

I am Mike Belgrave, stand up comedian. animator, outsider music musicologist, shambolic ukulele player and music video director extraordinaire.
This entry was posted in Mike Belgrave's Outsider Music blog, Outsider Music, Wesley Willis. Bookmark the permalink.

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