Works in Progress #13: Release The Bats!

Many moons ago, when you were still at your mother’s teat, we played an outdoor show somewhere in Iowa. It was at a college and like all outdoor shows at colleges in Iowa this outdoor show also featured a pig roast.  Normally, this would slide under the radar as an inconsequential detail, but at this time in 3 Minute Hero history, we had a member of a non-Christian monotheistic religion in our retinue. He was (and probably still is) of the Jewish persuasion. This was fascinating to us, for some reason. We would lurk about wagering whether or not he would take part in the ursine feast before him. This particular instance came after a handful of other pig roasts. Had he not taken part, he would have been reduced to the non-existent 3 Minute Hero per diem or, even worse, an emergency sandwich from my cooler consisting of a bread-like substance and off-brand apple butter. He ate the pig. One of our number yelled out, “Release the bats!” and it was hilarious, because, as everybody knows, the releasing of the bats is one of the best parts of the whole entire Pentateuch.

An interesting part of this story that has no relation to what I’m trying to get at is that earlier in the day, Eric Johnson made a heroic frisbee catch, but when he landed, he crushed a baby bunny. Explain THAT to God, Eric.

So, bats. That’s where I was. “Release the bats,” became, over time, a battle cry in the face of the absurd. That’s what this song is to me. We head out on these fool’s errands, we get side-tracked, the side-tracks become the main spurs, we go to Iowa, we eat pigs, we defy our Maker, we crush bunnies.

“With his cape made of wind

And a crown fashioned from junk

He joins the cattle,

Their romance for battle

He is an antique marching band steam punk.

He’s drowning in sweat

From a nightmare more crushing than debt:

He wants a future

All stitched and sutured,

The past on his feet

And the future on his

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes,

Shoulders, knees, and toes,

You know how it goes

So we say it again.

I can.



Release the bats! Flip the switch!

Release the bats! Ring the bell!

Release the bats! Upon my signal…

Unleash hell!

Release the bats, the kind that live beneath our hats,

Won’t somebody please think of the children?


And when he comes home

He is broke, but not broken or alone:

He has stories,

A chest pinned with glories,

And a shell shock fear of the telephone

Ring Ring Ring Ring

Don’t touch that thing!

It’s a relay station

For echolocation

Evasive maneuvers: one and a two and a

Sing. Sing a song. Make it last. Your whole life long.

Sing. Sing a song. ”

What’s that? You think this song should have clarinets and accordions in it? Consider it done, but only because you asked and you read all the way to the bottom.

All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2015 Jeff Nelson.


Works in Progress #11: Okoboji Volcano [Parts 2 & 3]

What is the price of living in paradise? I’m not talking about dollars or rubles. I’m talking about the trade-offs. Some live in the shadow of volcanoes. Others live on active fault lines. Some of us even live in St. Paul. Regardless, Fate’s drunk ass invariably shows up at our door demanding that which we thought was ours and when she does, you best have your New Balances laced up, a full tank of gas, and a week’s worth of canned goods and bottled water because she is as relentless as she is capricious. This song, “Okoboji Volcano [Parts 2 & 3]” are about living in the shadow of the volcano and about how everything somehow comes together when you need it to. It is to be the first song of the second section of our forthcoming double-album titled “Jumbo Jet Whispers & Thunder Lizard Serenades: The Journey of 3 Minute Hero.”

You always knew / What was best.

I took care of today / You took care of the rest.

All our worries: so petty and small —

It’s so clear now after the fall,

But how can you know when she’s going to blow?

You always knew / What was best about me.

That’s why we’re here / under the coconut trees.

All our worries: so petty and small —

So clear now after the fall,

But how can you know when she’s going to blow?

Breeze blowing in off the ocean — all right.

Breeze blowing in from the sea — oh yeah.

Breeze blowing in through the valley and over the darkness of the water.

Breeze blowing in from the mountain — all right.

Breeze blowing in off the the mountain — oh yeah.

Hey man, that’s not a mountain.

I know that’s not a mountain.

We all know that’s not a mountain.

All right.


Little baby puff of smoke / Everything is okie-doke.

Grab a bag of avocados then we go home.

Chop an onion, squeeze a lime / Guacamole just in time

for beer, chips, and Apocalypse Now.

Good thing we kept the Vespa and not the goats.

Good thing you took that course on how to fly helicopters.

Bingo-bango: sugar in the gas tank.

Bingo-bango: failure can be so sweet.

Bingo-bango: Okoboji volcano.

Driving here, driving there / Driving with no underwear

Lava lava everywhere / That’s a bad poem.

Through the jungle / Through the trees,

Through the ancient idol’s knees.

Pretty, pretty, pretty please: let me go home.

Don’t stop the carnival but do not look back.

Good thing T.C. showed you how to fly his Island Hopper.

Good thing we built our shack up on high land

Upon the packed down sand

You think we’d understand, but you’d be wrong.


You always knew / What was best.

You took car of today. / I took care of the rest.

Our daily worries so petty and small —

It’s so clear now after the fall,

But how can you know when she’s going to blow?


All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2014 Jeff Nelson.



Works in Progress #10: 800 LB Gorilla (Parts 1 & 2)

After singing through the bridge of this song a couple of times last night in practice, Jay asked just exactly what the hell this was about and I launched into an overly descriptive account of a dream I had when I was all of 15. I won’t get into details, but I had stayed up late watching “Planet of the Apes” and the movie’s parting imagery inspired my subconscious to dream lascivious dreams of an alarmingly come-hither, human-sized Statue of Liberty. This was a vivid memory from a turbulent age — an age when I came to realize that most of the things I loathed in other people I could conveniently find located squarely in my own thoughts and deeds. That’s what this song is about for me: trying to deal with other people’s shortcomings while becoming painfully aware of my own — hating somebody else’s behaviors while realizing that I was beginning to adopt those same behaviors because, well, they were effective. Stomping around like an 800 pound gorilla, for instance.

But yes, it’s also about how the Statue of Liberty is a woman. With needs.

I’ve said too much.


“Responsible. Just the sound of the word is old hat —

Crazy as a camper full of cats

Crackling with sound and furry

Pounding home that I should scurry.

I know the smell of fear

and smells just like gin and spaghetti.

Good God I’m more than ready

To say as he says and do as he does.

And I’d dearly love to be anywhere but here —

Just drive and drive, but never have to steer.

Run away. Far away.

You don’t know where I would fly:

Off the handle?

Out to the zoo?

Mr. Movies is showing me what I can do.


I stomp around, I stomp around, I stomp around.

Like an 800 pound gorilla.

I stomp around, I stomp around, I stomp around.

Like I own the town.

Like I’ll split the ground.

Like an 800 pound gorilla.


Sing song — King Kong — damn dirty apes.

Show me the shoreline; I’ll show you the shapes:

The copper crown of liberty’s shade,

The languid eyes, the serious gaze

Above the fabric dripping down like honey from above,

More than money do I love

That she is French, lives in New York,

Always wears sandals, and carries a torch.


I stomp around, I stomp around, I stomp around.

Like an 800 pound gorilla.

I stomp around, I stomp around, I stomp around.

Like I own the town.

Like I’ll split the ground.

Like an 800 pound gorilla.”


All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2013 Jeff Nelson.


Works in Progress #7: La Piscina

We debuted three new songs last week at the Bunker’s show: “La Piscina,” “Crazy Uncle,” and “Brown Flamingos.” Following “Ice Cream,” they will be songs two, three, and four of the forthcoming concept double album tentatively titled “The Journey of the Hero: Jumbo-Jet Whispers & Thunder-Lizard Serenades.” Snippets of lyrics have appeared here before, but here’s all of “La Piscina.”  Close one eye and imagine me singing this to you from the next room. Creepy, isn’t it?

“These trunks from Pic n’ Save won’t make it ’til Labor day;

There’s enough chlorine in there to dissolve the Saratoga.

Drive over your CRV to our little pool party.

Kick off your Docs, slip on your suit. You’re pretty hot but not that cute.

We’re taking a break from bowties, drive-by shootings, and butter-flavored topping.

We just want to get wet.

And forget.

Watch your head and your toes. Sawgrass and palmettos

Will carve you up like an Easter ham and let you bleed out on the sand.

Redneck in his cut-off jeans stirs beneath the evergreens.

He flicks a beercan full of ash — we hear a ‘clink’ when we should hear a splash.


I’m not asking for a sign of good faith from the cosmos:

no burning bushes or bosso profundos from the depths of the whirl wind.

Oooh-la-la-la piscina (the pool is closed)

La-la-la piscina (the pool is closed)

La-la-la piscina (the pool is closed)

La-la-la Piscina

And everybody knows

That the pool’s closed.

Everybody knows

That the pool’s closed for the summer time.


(We move ahead) nearly at the speed of light.

(We pass you by) like a lonely satellite.

You know that there’s no other way.

(We’ve got the will) and we’ve got velocity.

We need a (hint) a (clue) a (key)

We need a guide to show the way (We need a guide to show the way)”


All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2013 Jeff Nelson.






Works in Progress: #6

Thank you very much. Please be seated.

Are you seated? I sincerely hope so, because I have news so shocking that the mere transmission of it from your eyes to your brain will tear both of your ACLs as if they were made from Bible paper: I have scanned the following lyrics of “Lawrence of Arabia, (I Am Not)” and there is not a single mention of ANY of the Seven Pillars of Lyrical Fallback upon which I rely so heavily. They are, as you probably know, 1.) Food (usually of the delicious sort), 2.) Animals (usually monkeys — also of the delicious sort), 3.) Books, 4.) Pencils, 5.) Blind hatred of things I don’t understand, 6.) My spring-shaped model of space-time, and 7.) Body organs that don’t exist naturally.

I always have a predictable mood swing after watching movies about remarkable people. I remember desperately wanting to lead a bloody rebellion (against whom, I know not) just after watching “Braveheart.” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” lead to three decades of wanting to be taken away by a spaceship (more on this later). “Gandhi” just made me want to eat my weight in steak. Regardless, a good movie about an incredible person should first leave you in awe. Then make you feel tiny. Then make you want to do something to combat that tininess. This leads to late night musings of whether or not greatness in people can only be coaxed out during extraordinary times. It also leads to drinking port until your fingers are numb to the second knuckle.

This song’s acorn was a cold night’s viewing of “Lawrence of Arabia” at the Fargo Theatre. In Fargo.

“The horizon trembles from memories of being badly burned.

The crack of a distant rifle: my invitation from Destiny.

Fight and flight flow from my toes;

I’m a mission disguised in dead man’s clothes

That smell like gunpowder and loose electricity.


Sun hooks my keffiyah like a vengeful molten scimitar.

I don’t notice — I’m larger than history.

Then the credits begin to roll,

I grab my popcorn and leave the show

For a storyline with no plot or mystery.


I am not Lawrence of Arabia,

But maybe a

Reasonable  facsimile thereof.

I am not Lawrence of Arabia,

But maybe a


Forgery or copy…

Shoddy duplication…



I am a good man.

I’m not a great man.

I’m a product of unremarkable times.

This age’s mediocrity

Is a travesty: a lobotomy:

A two-act tragic-comedy

Told in cheap rhymes.


I am not Lawrence of Arabia.

But neither was he — until he was.”


So I lied: I do mention popcorn at one point. Be on the lookout for an on-the-road interview with 3 Minute Hero ivory tickler and melody line-acologist, Dan Danny Boy Dillenger American Pie Dreamy Dreamin’ Frosty the Snowman Frost. If I can find him. Please return your trays to their upright positions.




All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2012 Jeff Nelson.

Works in Progress #4

Unlike other songs about bowling with human skulls, “Bowling for Souls” features both a happy ending and a glockenspiel. There is also a bridge about how awesome sundresses are.

“I’ll stick my fingers in your nose holes;

I’ll stick my fingers in your nose.

I’ll stick my fingers in your nose holes,

Jam my thumb in your eye,

Tear off your skull and go bowling for souls.”

I sing this to myself while I’m driving. A lot.



Works in Progress #3

Everybody has a crazy uncle. And if not an actual crazy uncle, then at least a “crazy uncle.” Ten-four?

“Hold my calls.

I’m polishing the balls…

…On an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson’s horse —

If you know what I mean.

Things aren’t always quite as they seem.

Thank God.

Thank God.

Thank God almighty I can see myself in the gleam.”

What in the hell does that even mean? I don’t know, but I do remember hearing a story about how the freshmen at some college or military school would traditionally polish the testicles on one of the horse statues on campus, which struck me as brilliantly subversive. It’s not vandalism — it’s bringing something completely natural to light but makes it ludicrous by pulling it out of context without hurting anybody or anything. And that is the perfect joke: refulgent, gleaming, sparkling horse balls for all to see.

“Crazy Uncle” is a song about the people I know who are fortunate enough to see life like this as their default setting — people who can perform these feats of inversion and subversion while making others vaguely uncomfortable. It’s also about a magical blender and a gym bag full of mystical talismans, but that is neither here not there.

Happy December,



All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2011 Jeff Nelson.

Works in Progress #2

Washing dishes, by hand, is the second best way for me to work on a song. The best way is to drive from Saint Paul to Fargo, but that demands far too much time and money to be practical on a regular basis. Plus, there seems to be a never-ending wealth of dishes at my house. Someday, when I am crazy, I will have a friend throw our plates into the air and I will shoot them. From that day forward I will dine on paper plates or eat out of non-conventional dishware (soup in a hat! pie on a magazine!).

So, being Thanksgiving, we had some dishes that needed washing. I managed to tie together one of my songs that had a lot of neat parts, but lacked any semblance of flow. This is a problem that must plague more people than just me because my attention span is that o…squirrel!

“Sweet Potato Pie” is about sweet potatoes prepared in the holiest of food vehicles: the pie crust. Food inside of food. If Lao-Tzu ever ate a homemade apple pie (especially one from the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook) he never would have spouted off the Tao te Ching — he would have drawn a pie.

“Who wants sweet potatoes?

I want some sweet potato pie,

With marshmallows piled five miles high.

I might regret it,

But probably not.

When you’ve got a sweet potato pie,

You’ve got to love what you’ve got.”

And on some level, isn’t that what it’s all about? The awesomeness of a perfect pie? It’s a rhetorical question.

I’ve been thinking about unicorns lately. This is from “Kill a Unicorn.” I double-dog dare you to guess what it’s about.

“You don’t have to be smart,

Don’t have to be well-bred,

You can try to make fire

With the rocks inside your head.

Don’t curse the day you were born;

It’s time to take life by the horn.

Hey ho, let’s go kill a unicorn.”

Do you have a daughter? Do not sing this song gently to her as she nods off to sleep. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

– Jeff


All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2011 Jeff Nelson.


Works in Progress #1

Do you like to be kept abreast? Of course you do. The purpose of these “Works in Progress” entries is to do just that and to let you know that your friends (and enemies) at 3 Minute Hero Industries are busily working on new songs and bad ideas. You will hear from those of us working on songs as well as those of us who do the recording. You will also hear from anybody you want to, provided you ask the right question. That being said — ask us questions. Here are some lyrical snippets from the libretto of the mysterious “Project X.” What does those that even mean? This is from a song called “Brown Flamingos.” Gross.

Permanent flip-flop tan lines are a sign that you’re doing something right.

Your screws are not too loose; your screws are not too tight.

Don’t be mad at me because I figured it out — I don’t want to fight.

A lot of my songs have the word “flip-flop” in them, which leads me to believe that I have spent an inordinate amount of time this past decade looking &/or thinking about my feet and my choice of footwear. This is a welcome diversion as most of the songs I write are either about food or animals (sometimes, when serendipity intervenes, the songs are about food AND animals). Speaking of food, I had a dream that I was on a pontoon boat wearing a fur coat, and eating tapioca that was coming out of a beer keg. That dream was much better than the one I keep having about the millipedes. That’s another song for another night. Where was I? Here’s a snippet from the bridge of a song called “Firefly.” It’s about Our Hero who falls in love with an(other) arsonist and his all-consuming worry that she won’t love him if he gives up his life of matches and gasoline.

Jumbo jet whispers and thunder lizard serenades

And other things that chase away the blues —

Like sitting on my couch watching “Dog the Bounty Hunter,”

Just trying to get through February — without pills and booze

While remembering that the second best revenge is living well.

Just after torching his Escalade and telling his kids that he can burn.

In hell.

Well isn’t that a happy slice? Would you like some ice cream with that? Thank you and have a lovely evening.



All of this particular material is copyrighted ©2011 Jeff Nelson