King Missile “Detachable Penis” (1992)


Is this song quirky? Is it just plain weird? I’m not really sure exactly what to make of it, I just remember being amused by it when it came out in the early ‘90’s and I caught it on some late-night MTV show (back when MTV actually played music, of course), and after I listened to it again recently I still liked it. King Missile was an avant-garde, art rock band, and this was their biggest hit; it actually got to #25 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, for whatever that’s worth (it’s probably worth the conclusion that there were some strange damn songs on that chart).

The key to the song – other than the legitimately cool delay-treated guitar riff, the backing organ groove, and the repeated close-ups of a Robert Palmer girl mouthing the title phrase – is the Steven Wright-like deadpan vocal narration by frontman and songwriter John S. Hall. The lyrics have plenty of bizarre highlights, but personally I like it best when he eventually locates his missing “piece” for sale on a blanket in the street on 2nd Ave. near St. Marks Place, and he…talks the guy down from $22 to $17! As bargaining goes, that’s some shrewd, confident work. I might even say cocksure.

5 thoughts on “King Missile “Detachable Penis” (1992)

  1. I loved this song because I used to live in the East Village just off 2nd Ave. and 5th St. and vividly remember the kids who would sell their wares on blankets next to the Kiev Diner late at night and early in the morning. I even bought a CD or two from one of them on my way home from the bars. Thanks for the flashback.

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