Born to Laugh at Tornadoes

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Born to Laugh at Tornadoes
Studio album by Was (Not Was)
Released September 1983
Length 35:31
Label Geffen
Producer Jack Tann, David Was, Don Was
Was (Not Was) chronology
Was (Not Was)
Born to Laugh at Tornadoes
What Up, Dog?
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link
Robert Christgau B+[1]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars link

Born To Laugh At Tornadoes is a 1983 album by the progressive pop band Was (Not Was). Rolling Stone declared it "conceptually, the best album of the year" shortly after its release.[2] The advance publicity did not endear itself to the listening public at the time, and the album made little fanfare in a year dominated by the power pop of Michael Jackson's Thriller, or Prince's 1999.

This album boasted an impressive array of guest vocalists, ranging from hard rocker Mitch Ryder (on "Bow Wow Wow Wow"), heavy metal shock rocker Ozzy Osbourne ("Shake Your Head"), pop band The Knack's lead vocalist Doug Fieger (on "Betrayal" and "Smile"), Marshall Crenshaw ("The Party Broke Up"), and torch song vocalist/songwriter Mel Tormé (lead vocal on the closing song "Zaz Turned Blue").

The album also displayed a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from pop love ballads ("Betrayal") to heavy metal ("Bow Wow Wow Wow"), psychedelic synthesized mod music ("Man Vs. The Empire Brain Building"), to soft, easy listening cocktail jazz ("Zaz Turned Blue"), a ballad about a man who nearly chokes to death in a park ("Zaz turned blue/What were we supposed to do?/When Zaz turned blue?").

Also noteworthy is a credit to Robert Kinkel as Assistant Engineer, who went on to be the co-creator of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by David Was and Don Was

  1. "Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball)" – 3:07
  2. "Bow Wow Wow Wow" – 3:10
  3. "Betrayal" – 3:06
  4. "Shake Your Head (Let's Go to Bed)" – 3:55
  5. "Man vs. the Empire Brain Building" – 4:02
  6. "(Return to The Valley of) Out Come the Freaks" – 4:22
  7. "Professor Night" – 4:10
  8. "The Party Broke Up" – 2:14
  9. "Smile" – 3:15
  10. "Zaz Turned Blue" – 4:19



  1. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 24, 1984). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Born to Laugh at Tornadoes". Rolling Stone. 1983-10-13. Retrieved 2008-05-29.