You know what cakes, onions, and great songs have in common? They all have layers. The best songs allow you to listen to them repeatedly and find something new every time, which I think is part of the appeal of a lot of Phil Spector’s work or the Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds album. Deaf Pedestrians may not be in quite that league, but they have something that those other groups didn’t: a wickedly dark sense of humor (as if the name wasn’t a tip-off).
“Jerry Girl” is first and foremost a great early 2000’s rock song. Listen to the bass tone on that intro, those perfect harmonics—sounds almost like a doorbell. The band particularly succeeds after the 2:53 mark, when the guitar tone dirties up and the background vocals kick in, pretty much guarenteeing that you’ll be singing along in the car.
Where we get into talk of layers, though, is on the lyrical side of things. Singer Charlton Parker’s 90’s-alternative delivery makes it tricky to understand the lyrics, but this actually works in his favor, as the listener will only decipher bits and pieces each time. There’s obviously some weird stuff going on, as that 30 second long intro makes clear (complete with what sounds like a drunk, pervy Boomhauer).
But it’s only after repeated listens that the song’s narrative emerges. Basically, the main character stalks a coworker—not, I think we can agree, an inherently funny premise—but he’s both thick-headed and so oblivious that it never quite works out: “When you say that you think that I’m a psychopath/do you mean it in the literal sense?/When you say that you wish that you had never met me/Does this mean we can’t be friends?”
That kind of subtle character work is what makes the song a keeper in my book. This was off of the group’s first EP, which is apparently so rare not even the internet has a picture of it. As far as I know, Deaf Pedestrians are still out there, and although subsequent releases still had some wit running through the lyrics, the humor mostly veered towards gross-out misogynist territory—witness their biggest hit “15 Beers Ago.”