Take the Skinheads Bowling

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"Take the Skinheads Bowling"
Song by Camper Van Beethoven
from the album Telephone Free Landslide Victory
Released1985 (1985)
RecordedJanuary–February 1985
StudioSámurai Sound, Davis, California
GenreJangle pop[1]
LabelI.R.S./Cooking Vinyl
Songwriter(s)David Lowery
Producer(s)Camper Van Beethoven

"Take the Skinheads Bowling" is the signature song of Santa Cruz, California alternative rock band Camper Van Beethoven, written by David Lowery and released on their 1985 album Telephone Free Landslide Victory. The song (as covered by the band Teenage Fanclub) was notably featured in the Michael Moore documentary Bowling for Columbine,[2] and received substantial airplay on KROQ, and BBC Radio 2,[3] (this is unlikely as the station only played middle-of-the-road music at that time, and certainly no 'cutting edge' new music) as well as The Dr. Demento Show.[4] The song was also recorded by Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers as a B-side to their 1996 single "Australia" and subsequently included on their B-side compilation album Lipstick Traces (A Secret History of Manic Street Preachers).

Lowery admits to being surprised by the success of "Take the Skinheads Bowling," stating on his blog:

I never thought that Take the Skinheads Bowling would become a Hit. If someone had traveled from the future and told me we would have a hit on our first album I would not have picked this song as being the hit. Not in a million years. I would have more likely picked Where the Hell is Bill.

Why? We regarded Take The Skinheads Bowling as just a weird non-sensical song. The lyrics were purposely structured so that it would be devoid of meaning. Each subsequent line would undermine any sort of meaning established by the last line. It was the early 80′s and all our peers were writing songs that were full of meaning. It was our way of rebelling. BTW this is the most important fact about this song. We wanted the words to lack any coherent meaning. There is no story or deeper insight that I can give you about this song.

Lassie and Where the Hell is Bill were silly but there was at least a point to the songs. Plus both songs were pretty jokey. Something that seemed popular at the time.

— David Lowery, #74 Hits are Black Swans-Take the Skinheads Bowling, David Lowery - 300 Songs Blog[3]


The lyrics of the song mainly discuss the titular action of "[taking] the skinheads bowling", but there are also some humorous lines relating to bowling alleys ("Some people say that bowling alleys got big lanes") or the song itself ("There's not a line that goes here that rhymes with anything").[5]

Take the Skinheads Bowling EP[edit]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Take the Skinheads Bowling"
  2. "Cowboys From Hollywood"
  3. "Epigram"
  4. "Atkuda"
  5. "Epigram"
  6. "Colonel Enrique Adolfo Bermudez"[6]


Chart (1986) Peak
UK Indie Chart[7] 8


  1. ^ LaBate, Steve (December 18, 2009). "Jangle Bell Rock: A Chronological (Non-Holiday) Anthology… from The Beatles and Byrds to R.E.M. and Beyond". Paste. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie (14 June 2012). "Take the Skinheads Bowling". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b Lowery, David. "#74 Hits are Black Swans-Take the Skinheads Bowling". David Lowery - 300 Songs Blog. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  4. ^ Ott, Chris (13 November 2012). "Cigarettes & Carrot Juice: The Santa Cruz Years". Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media Inc. Archived from the original on 8 July 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  5. ^ "CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN - TAKE THE SKINHEADS BOWLING LYRICS". metrolyrics.com. MetroLyrics. Archived from the original on 7 July 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  6. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/take-the-skinheads-bowling-ep-mw0000956910
  7. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2014.