This Ain't No Picnic

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"This Ain't No Picnic"
Song by The Minutemen
from the album Double Nickels On The Dime
Released 1984
Recorded April 1984
Length 1:56
Label SST
Songwriter(s) Dennis Boon
Producer(s) Ethan James

"This Ain't No Picnic" is a song by American band Minutemen. It appears on their 1984 double album Double Nickels on the Dime, and was composed by their lead singer and guitarist D. Boon.


Boon composed the song after a dispute with the boss of an auto parts store where he was employed. According to Michael Azerrad's book Our Band Could Be Your Life, Boon wanted to put a Los Angeles-area jazz/soul station on the radio, but his boss prevented him from doing so, calling the station's playlist "nigger shit".[1] He was disgusted enough in his boss' attitude - as reflected in the lyric, "Hey mister, don't look down on me/For what I believe"' - to want to quit the job on the spot, but he needed the income at the time. So, as Azerrad put it in Our Band Could Be Your Life, "his frustration fueled a Minutemen classic." An early version of the song as heard on a live video shot in 1983 and released by Flipside magazine has Boon mentioning his boss by name; he later changed the lyric prior to recording the song for Double Nickels on the Dime.


"This Ain't No Picnic" was tapped to be Minutemen's first ever music video, directed by Randall Jahnson and shot in black and white for $450. The "plot" has the Minutemen singing the song in a barren field that is about to be bombed by then-president Ronald Reagan (as seen in clips from a public domain war film he starred in).[2] The video earned some airplay on MTV and was also featured on their first-ever MTV Video Music Awards show in 1985. The video is included as one of the DVD bonus features of We Jam Econo, a full-length Minutemen documentary.

Live performances[edit]

A popular live favorite during Minutemen's lifetime (it topped fan balloting when Minutemen were planning a live album that became, after Boon's death, the live compilation album Ballot Result), bassist Mike Watt revived the song for live performance in 2003 at the instigation of his Secondmen organist Pete Mazich. It became a permanent part of Watt and the Secondmen's live set for their 2004 fall tour.


  1. ^ Michael Azerrad (1 December 2012). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991. Hachette Digital, Inc. ISBN 978-0-316-24718-4. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Ruggles, Brock (2008). Not So Quiet on the Western Front: Punk Politics During the Conservative Ascendancy in the United States, 1980--2000. ProQuest. p. 87. ISBN 9780549929307. 

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