When Pete Zorn got funky

by Driver 67

We celebrated Pete Zorn’s life on Tuesday, May 10.

It was as perfect as these things can be. A crowded chapel, overflow out into the large foyer – tribute to a much-loved and admired man and musician. People from pop music, people from folk music, people from all over, and people from his family and neighbourhood. 

Back at the house, music was played well into the night. For folk music fans, it was like a self-contained festival. I’m not going to name those who were there; that’s private. But it was a million-dollar line-up, that’s for sure.

Today I’ve been writing about Pete’s life for a magazine, and listening to lots of his music – mostly stuff he did without me (much too familiar) and marvelling at his unbelievable range of talents and styles of music.

But then I came across this track which demonstrates the other side of Pete, the ‘funniest-man-in-the-world’ side.

It’s a tour de force in its own right, and most of the playing on it is Pete himself, overdubbing and overdubbing. It’ll be Dave Mattacks on drums and Mart Jenner on guitar. Pete played bass, the entire sax section, and then put on the vocals. My role was to sit behind the console pretending to produce, and trying to stop laughing.

It started life under the title The Funky Kidnap, but that was obviously in very, very bad taste. While we were making the Tax Loss album, Hey Mister Record Man, we did a lot of side projects. Ian Lynn reminded me the other day about The Roland deVille Orchestra & Chorus, one of several inventions that had their own life. Roland had two singles released, and later wrote many magazine articles.

But The Funky Get Down Y’All – well, that was maybe a step too far. It might have made it onto a B-side when B-sides existed, but we ran out of A-sides, so that never happened.

I’m pretty sure no-one but those who were in the studio at the time have ever heard it. It’s crass, it’s funny, but it’s also really, really good. If you’re not laughing before the end, go see a doctor. Or just turn it up really loud and dance.

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