“She’s a tangerine, made in California.” So begins the chorus of the song “Tangerine” by Buffalo Tom, the first track from their remarkable 1995 album Sleepy Eyed. I said a bit about Buffalo Tom back in week 36 when I wrote about their song “Crutch.” “Tangerine” is in many ways the antithesis of “Crutch.” “Crutch” is sincere and folky and singer-songwriter-ish. “Tangerine” is brash and frenetic and whimsical. In fact, it might be the most up-tempo rock song in Buffalo Tom’s entire catalogue.
During my first semester in college I went to a rock club in Portland to see Buffalo Tom as they toured in support of the Sleepy Eyed album. When they played Tangerine early in the set, people began moshing. After the song ended, lead singer Bill Janowitz explained something the effect of, “We’re Buffalo Tom. People don’t mosh to our music.”
All throughout the 52 Songs in 52 Weeks essay project I have tried to match songs to the time of the year when I wrote about them. During the summer I tried to write about summery songs and during the winter I mostly chose to write about wintery songs. Last June, in the third week of the project, I wrote about Fountain of Wayne’s “Radiation Vibe,” a song that perfectly captures the spirit of enjoying the sunshine. The song “Tangerine” makes me feel the exact same way.
Unfortunately, there are slim pickings on YouTube for listening to this song. The best you can do is to watch the music video which unfortunately has very poor resolution. The video alternates between shots of the band playing and an attractive woman driving down the California coastline in a bright orange Pontiac GTO convertible. (Don’t ask me about the part where she dons a ski mask and holds up a store for what appears to be lobsters. Um. Okay.)
A couple years after I first saw Buffalo Tom play, I got to see them play a short set at a record store in Portland in support of their album Smitten. They played a short set that included a mellower acoustic version of “Tangerine.” Both versions were pretty good, but I’m sticking with the loud version.