Sublime's "What I Got": is he kidding?

I’ve almost posted this thread countless times in the past, and have abstained each time, worrying that it is perhaps too mundane and pointless, or that it might seem unintentionally insulting to a fine (if dead) musician. But I have Googled with all my Googlosity for discussion of this topic to no avail, and I must have answers. So, tonight, I ask the Straight Dope.

In Sublime’s hit single “What I Got”, lead singer and guitarist Bradley Nowell utters these words:

…which are followed abruptly by this (roughly transcribed) interlude from said instrument:

The first time I heard this – surprisingly recently, actually – I started laughing. I immediately assumed it was intended as a joke, since a series of 21 slow, plinkily-picked notes are not what I would consider “playing the gui-tar like a mother fuckin’ riot”; I figured Nowell was poking a bit of fun at himself. My friend who was in the car at the time, however, seemed confused by my amusement, and asked me what I was laughing at. When I told him, he said that he did not think the line was supposed to be a joke, and that the words and the following instrumentation were not meant to be considered together as I had done. Further discussion with random acquaintences has upheld the idea that the line is serious, with one person stating that the plink-solo is more difficult than it sounds for the guitarist to play (admittedly, I wouldn’t know, as I’m not a guitarist, but then, neither is the person who said this).

So, what say you? Did Nowell intend for this line to be tongue-in-cheek humor, or did I read too much into it?

Furthermore, is plinking a guitar in such a manner actually that difficult a technique? I would hope not, as it certainly doesn’t sound terribly impressive, and I don’t know why one would go to the trouble of mastering it if it took that much work.

IANAG, but regardless of how technically difficult it might be, no way would that particular piece of guitar playing being categorizable as a “mother-fucking riot”.

You said it. The solo is nothing special, and if anything, it’s easier than it sounds. I’m sure the plunky sound is intentional, but I never thought about the possibility that that part is a musical joke.

I never thought of that, either. I’m a relatively capable guitarist, and I imagine I could play that little bit with relative ease.

Okay, I looked up a guitar tab for it, which seems to be relatively accurate, and I picked it up easily. Any guitarist worth his salt would have little trouble with it. So maybe it was meant as a joke. Or maybe he wasn’t talking about the song he was currently playing when he said that - like, “I can play the guitar well, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to right now” - which, granted, wouldn’t be the most sensical interpretation, but anyway - I’ve heard him play more challenging guitar lines before. Right offhand, the solo in “Santeria” is significantly more difficult. It’s not on par with, say, the solo to “Crazy Train”, but it’s not something a beginner could just pick up and learn, unlike the lick in “What I Got”, which many novices could.

He was rhyming. Sometimes that means making things up, and/or exagerrating.

You were not supposed to think that the very simple guitar solo following that verse was supposed to sound “like a motherfucking riot”.

You’re reading too much into this. Many ten year olds could play that simple solo.

What I want to know is what his dalmation has to do with his ability to get high.

I don’t really think he’s serious. I mean, Sublime’s music is often kind of tongue-in-cheek. Mostly I think it’s just a rhyme.

When I was younger and I first heard this song, I thought that he was saying, I’ve got a Dalmatian, but I can still get high, and that he was somehow implying that having a Dalmatian would normally impede one’s ability to get high, but that he had somehow transcended that, and was able to have the Dalmatian and still get high.

The only thing was, I was high when I came up with that explanation.

Upon re-examination of the lyric, what he is actually saying is that the Dalmatian and his ability to get high are among the things that “he’s got.” The song is basically about being able to enjoy some simple things in life even when there’s all kinds of shit coming down. So no matter what happens, no matter how bad it gets, he can still get high, and he still has his dog Louie whom he was very close with and is mentioned in many of Bradley’s songs.

I just can’t believe he doesn’t cry if his dog runs away.

Or doesn’t get angry when his mom smokes pot/hits the bottle and goes straight to the rock.

I love Sublime, but was introduced to them by a twenty-year-old girlfriend who was dead serious about them, missed all the jokes, and didn’t recognize that so many of their tunes are covers and got angry when I’d off-handedly mention that I was rockin’ out to the originals when she was in preschool. Go figure. :smiley:

My daughter and I love this song…sometimes when I want to make her laugh, I transpose the lyrics:
I don’t mind when my mom runs away…
I don’t get angry at the bills I have to pay…
I don’t mind when my dog smokes pot…*

Something about a dog smoking pot…Oh well. :rolleyes:

The song makes light of a heavy situation, doing so in a light, airy style, so I see it as a bit tongue in cheek. Check out these lyrics and imagine thme in thrash metal or some other dark sounding style:

That’s why I don’t cry when my dog runs away
I don’t get angry at the bills I have to pay
I don’t get angry when my Mom smokes pot
Hits the bottle and goes right to the rock
f**kin’ and fightin’, it’s all the same
Livin’ with Louie dog’s the only way to stay sane
Let the lovin’, let the lovin’ come back to me

I would read it mere that the narrator, not Bradley Nowell, thinks that riff is playing the guitar like a mother-fucking riot, which matches the narrator’s persona: content with who he is and how his life is and not real intreested in making comparisons or living up to what is par for other people.

Whenever he wants to get high, the dog runs and finds the nearest drug dealer. Like a modern-day Lassie, he manages to communicate his master’s desires via an insistent stream of barks.

Dalmatians are really hyper, so I bet they would be tough to deal with when you’re high.

Just because something isn’t technically hard doesn’t mean it isn’t great. If you’re such good guitarists, then why aren’t you multiplatinum recording artists and songwriters and dead?

Dalmations are total fucking narcs.

Not really. “High” and “riot”? :wink:

Yeah, this is more or less the response I’ve gotten from three other people, but when he plays a guitar solo right after saying that line, it’s impossible for my mind not to relate the two. Suppose we’re on a baseball diamond, and I stand at the plate and yell “I can hit home runs like Mark motherfuckin’ McGuire!”…then I immediately doink the next pitch barely as far as the pitcher’s mound. Depending on whether or not you think I was joking, you’re either going to react with :dubious: or :smiley: , but either way you’re taking my brag and my blooper together.

This makes sense, and supports the idea that Nowell himself was, if not actually joking, at least aware of the odd juxtaposition of the line and the solo.

I’ve heard that song a million times, but I’ve never before paid enough attention to it to make the connection between the line and the solo. But now that you mention it I’m pretty sure it was an intentional joke.

Psst. Dalmation. Ten-spot. Ten bucks.

It’s official. Dalmation is now slang for dimebag.