As you may know, although I often write about the law at the Abnormal Use blog, I occasionally stray into other topics, including popular (and obscure music). In so doing, I’ve become acquainted with a number of lawyer bloggers who fancy themselves music aficionados (or vice versa). This, sometimes, results in unusual contests of musical knowledge. This week is no different. In a recent post about a Florida appellate court’s new opinion interpreting Daubert, attorney Steve McConnell of the Drug and Device Law blog recently dared me to name more songs about the sense of smell than he could. (Apparently, the case at issue had something to do with a Plaintiff losing that sense.).
McConnell and I have a long history of such exchanges. Back in 2010, he quipped that “any rock band with four letters in its name will produce wretched music” (a troubling remark to which I felt compelled to respond here). He redeemed himself, though, with a fine post about the work of The Beatles and the Sixth Circuit. In 2011, our law blogs created dueling lists of songs about lawyers, judges, and attorneys (and our blog’s list, of course, included Don Henley’s fateful tune about expert witnesses). He doesn’t limit himself to music, either. Six years ago, McConnell wrote about one of our favorite topics: Star Wars. Later, in another post,, he compared a qui tam action to a scene from The Godfather Part II.
You get the idea.
So, I can’t say I was surprised when I received an email from him this week directing me to his latest post. His challenge to me can be found at the end of this two paragraph excerpt:
In his poem “To Summer,” Blake begs the season to “curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat/That flames from their large nostrils!” That is typical Blake; he takes our favorite time of the year and turns it into a satanic beast. We’d prefer to consider the delightful aromas that Summer brings to our nostrils: beach, fresh cut grass, BBQ, citronella, funnel cakes, empty courtrooms, etc. Plus, if we believe the Seals and Crofts song “Summer Breeze,” the scent of jasmine is out there. Summer is redolent of youth and hope.
Sometimes we get the sense that the sense of smell does not get its due. We are taught that seeing is believing. McCartney sang, “Listen, do you want to know a secret?” Morrison insisted, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon and touch me, babe.” It took us a moment to think of any olfactory songs, but there are more than you might suspect. Primus inter pares, of course, is Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” A mellow Mac Davis asked his fans to “Stop and Smell the Roses.” Lynyrd Skynyrd rocked out to “That Smell.” Todd Rundgren might have been floating in that ocean of cash he got from producing Bat Out of Hell when he wrote “The Smell of Money.” And what was the reason for the great guitarist Buddy Guy’s fixation on all things nosey? His huge catalog of classics includes “I Smell Trouble,” “I Smell a Rat,” and “Smell the Funk.” Does all that Chicago blues stinkiness have anything to do with the fact that the name “Chicago” comes from an Indian word for a malodorous onion? [Meanwhile, expect the Abnormal Use blog to issue a challenge about which roster of legal geeks can come up with more smelly songs. Hey, Dedman, we’re waiting.]
Of course, McConnell named several songs which we all know, including Nirvana’s’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit Spirit” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s’s “That Smell.” (Fun fact: This is not the first time McConnell has written about Nirvana’s epic anthem). He referenced “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Croft but not the 1993 cover by Type O Negative. But what other songs about the sense of smell leap to mind besides those he mentioned?
Scouring my memories, I can conjure up a number of punk anthems, but I suspect it may be best not to quote the subversive lyrics in this post. The White Stripes released “I Think I Smell A Rat” on 2001’s White Blood Cells, while R.E.M. raised eyebrows with its “Mine Smell Like Honey” from 2011’s Collapse Into Now. As Weezer began its inevitable slide into irrelevance, it released “Dope Nose” on 2002’s Maladroit. Green Day offered us “Geek Stink Breath” on 1995’s insufferable Insomniac, while Nirvana gave the world “Scentless Apprentice” on 1993’s In Utero. The Stinky Puffs, a band composed of the children of some early 1990’s alt-rockers, released a 1995 album called A Little Tiny Smelly Bit Of . . . . which included a tribute to the recently deceased Kurt Cobain called “I’ll Love You Anyway.”
But none of those selections serve as a perfect response to McConnell.
For the past few days, I’ve dwelled on the issue, hoping that my mind would direct me to an appropriate solution. Then it hit me: the perfect response to McConnell’s inquiry.
Never suspecting that the effort might aid a lawyer blogger 34 years later, The Replacements released a fifteen minute EP in 1982. It is the perfect answer.
Stink by The Replacements. I win.