“Amazing, It Smells Like Apples Mixed With B.O.!”

“We bought Jack a straw hat, and when Marco saw it he said, ‘Tim’s gonna love that.'” – Dee Bauchery

For a recluse, I have a ton of hat stories. Future derby zebra hat wearers, or friends who have otherwise normal children except for their predilection for wearing buckets on their heads. I know them all.

Stranger still, is how something as ubiquitous as headwear is in everyday conversation can still be so underrepresented in music. So here it is, the definitive list of awesome hat songs:

5.) the Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “Hell of a Hat”

It should come as no surprise that the first song is a ska song. Ska is the only musical genre (in)famous for being solely concerned with shoes and hats. And upstrokes. Lots of upstrokes. There’s also some sort of social message about gun violence in the song; done very convincingly by lead singer Dicky Barrett’s gravelly death metal growl (a vocal choice sadly not a ska mainstay). But we all know who the song’s real star is: hats. It’s right there in the title!

4.) the Birthday Party – “Hats on Wrong”

Actually a holdover from their “the Boys Next Door” days, the Birthday Party’s follow up their manic, practically self-referential “Happy Birthday” (“Woof, woof, woof!”) with a song that makes less sense lyrically. (Who gives a samurai sword as a gift? And why can’t they shut that dog up?) Sounding like a lost dub plate to its predecessor, “Hats on Wrong” starts off where the wildly careening “Happy Birthday” left off; all horn squeals, guitar noises, and a bassline holding it together that might be played wrong. Also connecting the two, future crooner Nick Cave spends the song going “ruff, ruff;” close enough to “woof, woof” for me. Imagine James Brown taking a job as a circus ringmaster, leading his JBs through a heroine-tinged nightmare and you’ll be halfway there.

3.) Boogie Down Productions – “Jimmy”

Yet another message song, this one clearly about sex. Signaling a bizarrely popular trend in 80s rap; first by calling condoms “jimmy hats.” Then having every act write a song about them. Here Mr. “You can’t trust a big butt and a smile” KRS-ONE was actually trying to save face, after outing his DJ on the previous album as a “Super Ho.” One can only imagine the trouble that song caused DJ Scott La Rock’s personal and romantic life; so here’s a posthumous apology letter in the form of a Public Service Announcement.

2.) N.W.H. – “Wear Yo Hat (Buried and Bald)”

You’d think, since the film Fear of a Black Hat was a rap send-up, that this song would be mocking the aforementioned 80s rap sex songs. Luckily for this list, it’s not. It’s just reveling in the glory of hats. “They stole the Kangol right off my head/Better grab a fedora instead.” “Wear Yo Hat” covers all the bases: Why you need a hat (“Hats offer inclosure, from deadly exposure”), When you should wear one (“Dressed for battle but not fatigued”), How useful it will be (“My hat’s made of metal to avoid debris”), Where you should wear one (“Hats in the ghetto streets decrease the blood shed”), and the all-important What kind of hat (“Grab a brim, babushka, or yarmulke”).

1.) the Gainesvillians – “Hat Guy Song”

Okay, this song has, to my knowledge, never been recorded, or even performed. It did exist though, if just for a few short years around 2002-03. More as a threat of what the Gainesvillians would play if I ever showed up to one of their shows. So how could I not include it here? Written solely for me and my constant companion? (For those of my friends who’ve wondered if I own more than one hat, the answer is now obviously “yes”. But I only wear one. I wore the hat above for five years straight, after the explosion of my preceding hat. Such is their grim fate.) The song was painfully underdeveloped and derivative, but how many songs have been written about you and your headwear?


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