In 1985, the Chicago Bears, on their way to a Super Bowl victory, assembled to record a ridiculous primitive rap song called “The Super Bowl Shuffle,” which went on to become a massive novelty hit and, years later, one of the first things that millions of people looked up when they realized that YouTube was a thing. (Grantland’s oral history of the entire thing is recommended reading.) Sean Cannon, the host of the Louisville radio show After Dark, had the absurd idea to record an all-star cover of the track. The song’s lineup consists of comedians (Tom Scharpling, David Wain, Scott Aukerman, Kyle Kinane, Dave Hill), comedy-aligned indie rock dudes (My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington, Man Man’s Honus Honus), and a couple of outliers: web-celebrity cat Lil Bub and pro wrestler Colt Cabana (who, incidentally, is a friend of mine, and I can’t believe he didn’t give me any advance warning that he was doing this). James plays a molten skronky saxophone solo, and the whole thing is just predictably absurd. Listen to it and read an explanation from Cannon below.
People keep asking me, “Sean, how did you create this amazing all-star cover of the classic Chicago Bears hit song ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle’?!?!” And since there are a lot of unsubstantiated rumors flying around, I’m going to set the record straight. Let me start from the beginning.
One late spring evening, I was busy working on a sizzle reel for my upcoming Tom Hanks documentary “T-Hanks for the Memories,” when I had an epiphany. I was reminiscing about the 1985 T-Hanks classic, “The Man With One Red Shoe,” which featured a masterful performance from Tom Noonan. And of course, how could I think of Tom Noonan without considering his turn in “Law & Order: SVU” as Jake Berlin. Needless to say, this reminded me of the equally breathtaking “L&O:SVU” role of Arthur Esterman, an ecstasy-addicted doctor who murders his wife in a park. Esterman was ably portrayed by the venerable Michael Gross. Most folks associate Gross with his role as Steven Keaton in “Family Ties.” In my mind, though, he’ll always be Burt Gummer of “Tremors” fame. That said, the best in the “Tremors” series is obviously the fourth installment, “The Legend Begins,” where he actually plays Burt’s great-grandfather, Hiram. That movie also included an understated, but stunning performance from Billy Drago, who you no doubt remember as the villainous John Bly on the cancelled-too-soon Bruce Campbell series “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” The real glue that held “Brisco” together, though, was John Astin’s Professor Wickwire. That role, while not as iconic as his take on Gomez Addams, was just as good as his run on “Webster” as Uncle Charles. He was something of a foil for Alex Karras’ George Papadopolis. And well, how could I think about Karras without considering his take on the real-life restaurateur Jimmy Butsicaris in the underappreciated “Jimmy B & André,” which featured a then-unknown William “The Refrigerator” Perry. There’s no way to mention the Fridge without thinking of his white-hot-but-abbreviated rap career, closing out “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” To bring it all back around, that track was released the same year as “The Man With One Red Shoe.” Eerie, isn’t it?
So here I was, thinking about that song — when the light bulb popped on. “You know what people want? They want a version of ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle’ for a new generation!” At that point, I put word out to a couple of Hollywood exec and record label folks to see what I could get. After turning down 254 actors, musicians and miscellaneous celebrity types, I settled on the perfect 10 people and one cat.
I flew them all (first class, of course) to my home base of Louisville, put them up in the historic (and expensive) Seelbach Hotel, had that board from “Sound City” flown in, and hired a crack team of producers to assemble the track.
By the time we got around to actually recording, though, I realized I’d run through most of the budget without thinking to reserve a studio. So we huddled everyone into my dining room and did a single take. Sure, I wanted more than one take. But Lil Bub had to be at a movie premiere, so that was all we could fit in before she left. And hey, at least she got to meet Robert De Niro.
That pretty much brings us to today (if you ignore the eight months of post-production arguments about the snare sound in the track), with my entire life’s work finally making its way into the world. Go to misfirerecords.bandcamp.com and buy it! Pay more than $1, too, because every single penny we get goes to one of the best charities around, Reading Is Fundamental. In other words, I will be buying zero Fabergé eggs with your money.
If you’re not familiar with Reading Is Fundamental, go to www.rif.org and educate yourself! Literacy is important, even if it did enable you to read this post from me…