|Single by Tenacious D|
|from the album Tenacious D|
|Released||July 16, 2002|
|Recorded||The Boat in Silver Lake, Los Angeles|
|Genre||Hard rock, comedy rock|
|Producer||The Dust Brothers|
|Tenacious D singles chronology|
"Tribute" is the first single of Tenacious D's self-titled debut album. It was released July 16, 2002. "Tribute" was the most requested video on Kerrang! TV in 2002. The song is a tribute to what Gass and Black refer to as "The Greatest Song in the World" (often confused as the song's title), which Tenacious D themselves came up with, but have since forgotten. It was later released as a downloadable track for the video game Rock Band.
Tribute was the first song Black and Gass played live as Tenacious D. The song, like many other songs that were recorded on Tenacious D, was originally played on the TV series. During earlier performances of this song Kyle Gass played the opening to "Stairway to Heaven". The two songs are both in A minor and have very similar chord progressions, and critics have said the songs sound alike. A slightly different version of the song first appeared on the band's TV show on HBO.
The song chronicles the band members' encounter with a demon who demands the duo play "the best song in the world" or have their souls eaten. Having nothing to lose from trying, they "play the first thing that came to our heads", and it "Just so happened to be / The best song in the world."
Given the "Stairway to Heaven" interlude in the original TV series version, it might be suggesting the best song in the world is indeed that song, but the lyrics make clear that the song Tenacious D is playing sounds nothing like the song they came up with to please the demon (specifically, "This is not / The greatest song in the world, no / This is just a tribute"). However, since the following lyrics are "Couldn't remember / The Greatest Song in the World, no, no /" it's possible that the best song was, in fact, "Stairway to Heaven" and they couldn't remember that it was what they played.
In an interview the band claimed that the inspiration from the song came after Jack Black played Metallica's "One" for Kyle Gass, describing it as "the best song in the world", leading to a failed attempt to themselves write an even better song, and a discussion of the meaninglessness of labeling any song that way. "Tribute" was written to make the claim that the greatest song in the world had, in fact, been theirs but they had forgotten it, as a paean to the impossibility of reaching musical perfection.
In Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, it is implied that the climax of the movie, a rock-off challenge between Satan and Tenacious D told through the song "Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)", is indeed the incident chronicled in "Tribute", and that the portion of "Beelzeboss" performed by Tenacious D is the song receiving tribute. After defeating Satan, Jack and Kyle recall the incident once more, describing it as, "the greatest song in the world". Unfortunately, they are unable to remember how it went. Also in the song Beelzeboss, they mention that they know the demon's weakness, referred to as their "rocket sauce", which is what they use in their HBO television series to defeat the demon. However, unlike the demon in the television episode, Satan says they are "Fuckin' lame" and tries to take Kyle Gass to hell after all, while the demon asks if they are angels. However, considering that they do not remember the song, they may have forgotten this as well. This was confirmed in a commentary with Jack Black for the movie.
The music video for "Tribute", directed and edited by Liam Lynch, features Jack Black and Kyle Gass, in a cheap shopping mall karaoke booth, rewired to record their tribute to their encounter with a demon and the song they sang for him, which saved their lives.
The video cuts between footage of the pair walking down the "long, lonesome road" and the encounter with the demon played by Dave Grohl. The demon also performs the electric guitar solo in the music video. After the solo, Jack Black jumps out of the booth and starts shouting the lyrics at mall shoppers and dancing flamboyantly. Passersby include cameos from Lynch and Ben Stiller. While most pay no attention, an old lady, played by Linda Porter assaults Black with her purse after he grabs her while singing. A policeman, played by Jason Reed, takes Black and Gass away. At the end the same old lady who was frightened by the duo picks up the now-recorded CD, eyes glowing red, and cackles demonically which is reminiscent of Michael Jackson at the end of "Thriller".
Although the video had huge success on UK television - readers of Kerrang! magazine voted for their Top 10 rock videos with "Tribute" coming fifth - the song was never actually released there as a single. "Tribute" was nominated for two Music Video Production Association Awards: "Alternative Video of the Year" and "Directorial Debut of the Year". In addition, it was a nominee for best video in the 2002 Kerrang! Awards.
- CD single (Epic Records #673519 2)
- "Tribute" – 4:08
- "Cosmic Shame (live)" – 4:28 Recorded at the Cox Arena in San Diego on November 20, 2001.
- "Friendship" – 2:00
- "Tribute (Video)" – 4:08
- "Wonderboy (Video)" – 4:07
- Australia and New Zealand CD single (Epic Records #672893.2)
- "Tribute" (Radio Edit) – 4:08
- "Cave Intro" – 0:46
- "Jesus Ranch (demo)" – 2:14
- "Kyle Quit the Band (demo)" – 2:10
- "Explosivo (Mocean Worker's Megamix)" – 5:02
- Promotional CD (Epic Records #56731)
- "Tribute" – 4:08 (Radio Edit)
- Jack Black (vocals/acoustic guitar)
- Kyle Gass (backing vocals/acoustic guitar)
- Page McConnell (keys)
- Dave Grohl (drums)
- Warren Fitzgerald (electric guitar solo)
- Alfredo Ortiz (additional drums)
- The Dust Brothers (production)
- Ken Andrews (mixer)
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