Jocko Homo

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"Jocko Homo"
1977 Booji Boy Records release of "Mongoloid"/"Jocko Homo"
Single by Devo
from the album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
A-side "Mongoloid" (1977 45 version)
Released March 12 1977
Recorded October 1976
Genre Post-punk, new wave
Length 3:41
Label Booji Boy Records
Stiff Records (1977 45 version)
Warner Bros. (1978 LP version)
Writer(s) Mark Mothersbaugh
Producer(s) Chuck Statler (Booji Boy/Stiff version)
Brian Eno (WB version)
Devo singles chronology
"Be Stiff"
(1978)
"Jocko Homo"
(1978)
"Come Back Jonee"
(1978)

"Jocko Homo" is the B-side to Devo's first single, "Mongoloid", released in 1977 on Devo's own label, Booji Boy Records and later released in the UK on Stiff Records. The song was re-recorded as the feature song for Devo's first album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! on Warner Bros. Records in 1978. The original version peaked at #62 on the UK Singles Chart. It is based on a chant from the 1932 movie Island of Lost Souls.[1] "Jocko Homo" introduced the call-and-response "Are we not men?" / "We are Devo", and is generally considered to be Devo's anthem. The title is taken from a 1924 anti-evolution tract called Jocko-Homo Heavenbound by B. H. Shadduck.[2] The song revolves around an idiosyncratic descending guitar riff and absurdist lyrics.

Song lyrics and themes[edit]

The song's verses primarily concern themselves with the satirical view of devolution, noting foibles in human society. Most versions include a bridge that begins with "God made man, but he used the monkey to do it..."[3] The song also contains several call and response choruses, including the repeated chant "Are we not Men? / We are Devo!" "Jocko Homo", in its variations, has also contained other chants between the main verses and the closing chant. These include "We Accept You / We Reject You / One of us! One of us!" (a reference to Tod Browning's Freaks) and "I've got a rhyme that comes in a riddle / O-Hi-O! / What's round on the ends and high in the middle? / O-Hi-O!"

The song begins in the unusual time signature of 7/8 time, but switches partway through to common 4/4 time for the call and response sections.

The original version of "Jocko Homo" lacks all call and response choruses except "Are we not men?", as well as the "God made man" bridge. This demo version appears on the Hardcore Devo: Volume One compilation. The Booji Boy Records single version contains both the "O-Hi-O!" and the "God made man" bridge. The version on Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! only includes the "God made man" bridge.

Co-writer Mark Mothersbaugh attributes the line "Are we not men?" to the 1932 film Island of Lost Souls, an adaptation of the 1896 H.G. Wells novel Island of Doctor Moreau, from which the line actually originated. Mothersbaugh says of the film: "There were like, watered down, wussy versions of it in the later Islands Of Dr. Moreau stuff, but that was a really intense movie."[4]

Music video[edit]

A music video for the song "Jocko Homo" was part of the short film, The Truth About De-Evolution, Devo's first music video, directed by Chuck Statler.[5] It begins with an interstitial scene of Booji Boy running through a Cuyahoga Falls parking lot, up a fire escape, and into a building. There, he meets with General Boy, who is played by Mark Mothersbaugh's father (Robert Mothersbaugh. Sr.), and hands him papers. After an announcement from General Boy, there are a series of rapid fire cuts of the letters "D-E-V-O" set to the intro of the Devo song "Mechanical Man," and then the main video begins. In it, Mark Mothersbaugh plays a professor, lecturing to a class of students in surgical masks, caps, and 3-D glasses. As the song progresses, the class begins to riot. The film appears on The Complete Truth About De-Evolution.

Live performances[edit]

When performed live, "Jocko Homo" is often the centerpiece of the show. During most tours, Devo strips off part of their stage costumes during the bridge, removing their iconic jumpsuits to strip down to T-shirts, shorts, and knee and elbow protectors, and when possible Mark Mothersbaugh descends into the audience to lead them a call-and-response of "Are We Not Men?/We Are Devo!" which degenerates into monkey noises. The first performance of "Jocko Homo" in 1975 went on for over twenty minutes. A portion of this appears on the album DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years. When asked to open for Sun Ra, as a joke they performed a half-hour rendition of the song to annoy the crowd, according to Mark Mothersbaugh in an interview in 1997: "We'd play "Jocko Homo" for 30 minutes, and we wouldn't stop until people were actually fighting with us, trying to make us stop playing the song. We'd just keep going, "Are we not men? We are Devo!" for like 25 minutes, directed at people in an aggressive enough manner that even the most peace-lovin' hippie wanted to throw fists."[6]

Other versions[edit]

The version from the film The Truth About De-Evolution (1978) has a slower time than the album versions and lacks the bridges (like "God made man..." and "O-Hi-O").

On the 1988 and 1990 tours, as well as at the 1996 Park City, Utah show and the 2002 Hollywood, CA show, Devo performed a drastically re-arranged and slowed down acoustic version of "Jocko Homo" (known as the "Sad" version). On the 1990 tour, the band would finish the "Sad" version and switch into the regular performance version of the song. The "Sad" version can be heard on Now It Can Be Told: DEVO at the Palace.

An "E-Z Listening" version was recorded in a Caribbean style for playback before shows. This appears on the 1987 E-Z Listening Disc.

In 1979, novelty group Lonnie & the Devotions recorded a cover version, in a barbershop quartet style, for Rhino Records' early Devo tribute album KROQ's Devotees.[7]

Parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic included a portion of this song in his first polka medley titled "Polkas on 45". His DEVO parody "Dare to Be Stupid" is considered by Mark Mothersbaugh to be an accurate pastiche of their song style.

French band Justice sampled the opening bass riff of Jocko Homo in their song "Stress" in their debut album, .

US band Thanatos included a very tongue-in-cheek cover of this song as a hidden track on the album "This Endless Night Inside".

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 62

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jocko Homo by Devo Songfacts". Songfacts. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  2. ^ Bertram H Shadduck bio (1869-1950)
  3. ^ "God made man
    but he used the monkey to do it
    Apes in the plan
    we're all here to prove it.
    I can walk like an ape,
    talk like an ape,
    do what a monkey do.
    God made man
    but a monkey supplied the glue."
  4. ^ http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=3062
  5. ^ Liner notes to Devo, "Mongoloid" b/w "Jocko Homo". Booji Boy Records, 1977, which say "'Jocko Homo' - from the soundtrack of 'In the Beginning Was the End...(the truth about DE-EVOLUTION)' a film by Chuck Statler." (emphasis added)
  6. ^ Devo Interviewed by Mark Mothersbaugh
  7. ^ Rhino Album Discography, Part 4

External links[edit]