Not long ago, Rob Getzschman decided to turn Cypress Hills' 1991 ode-to-police “Pigs” into a lullaby. Or, as he would say, “back into a lullaby.” (You can hear the song below.)
Under the auspices of his folk project Mighty Good Road, Getzschman — an L.A.-based musician, video editor and father of a two-year-old — takes songs that are (or could be) protest themed and recasts them in an old-school folk context. For example, he's done Starship's deplorable “We Built This City” as a labor rights ballad — think: “We (the people) built this city…” — making it pretty decent in the process. We spoke with him about why “Pigs” makes such a good lullaby, and who the most gangsta folk musician is.
So what's the dealio with “Pigs”?
That's a song I've been toying with for a while. It's a song that I first played live, probably in 2002. And it used to sound more like an old Irish sea chantey — because it sounded a bit like [an Irish chantey]? Then I kept rearranging it and rearranging it until it became more like a lullaby with the harmonies. Which I think is appropriate, given that it's playing off the original “This Piggy Went to Market,” which is a kids rhyme.
Exactly like the Cypress Hill version…
Well, that's the genius of the original version, B-Real took that old rhyme and turned it into a rap about cops, y'know, “pigs,” and I've just turned it back. [laughs]
There's definitely something wonderful about that back and forth.
Yeah, I know that the acoustic-covers-of-rap thing got really grating a couple of years ago … but I always felt that this was more of a folk song, as opposed to an ironic cover.
But you've done more than just re-purpose rap, right?
I've been doing a series of these covers, and in my mind, I'm turning pop music into protest music…. I think of protest musicians, or socially conscious people like KRS-One or some of those punk bands, and I think, “Shut up, already” … but sometimes you have to package it in a way that makes it palatable.
So, who is the most gangsta folk musician?
I think rappers always have the demand to puff themselves up and make themselves seem more gangsta, and it's the folk musicians who are writing about the gangsters…. Oh, there's all of those old murder ballads [from folks like Jelly Roll Morton], and the first time I heard those I got the shivers. I didn't even know the f-bomb existed back then. That's gangsta to me.
You might as well be playing Cypress Hill for your two year old at that point.
I don't think we've played her any Cypress Hill yet. We'll probably ease her in with some N.W.A … then move her on to stuff like Cypress Hill.
…get her to the real roots?
Yeah, start her at the roots, and then move her into the real ish.
Mighty Good Road's remix of “Pigs” can be purchased on CD Baby