Tribute (song)

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Single by Tenacious D
from the album Tenacious D
ReleasedJuly 16, 2002
RecordedThe Boat in Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Songwriter(s)Jack Black, Kyle Gass
Producer(s)The Dust Brothers
Tenacious D singles chronology
Audio sample

"Tribute" is the first single of Tenacious D's self-titled debut album. It was released July 16, 2002. The song is a tribute to what Gass and Black refer to as "The Best Song in the World" (often confused as the song's title),[1][2] which Tenacious D themselves came up with, but have since forgotten.[3] It was released as a downloadable track for Rock Band in addition to appearing as a playable track for Guitar Hero Live.


"Tribute" was the first song Black and Gass played live as Tenacious D.[4] The song, like many other songs that were recorded on Tenacious D, was originally performed on their short-lived HBO TV series.[5] During earlier performances of this song Kyle Gass played the opening to "Stairway to Heaven".[6] The two songs are both in A minor and have very similar chord progressions, and critics have said the songs sound alike.[1][7][8]


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 [their] heads", which "just so happened to be the best song in the world."

Given the "Stairway to Heaven" interlude in the original TV series version, along with the similarity of the chord progression in both songs, "Tribute" at first implies that the best song in the world is indeed that song. However, the lyrics make clear that "Tribute" sounds nothing like the song they came up with to please the demon; as Black describes: "And the peculiar thing is this my friends: The song we sang on that fateful night, it didn't actually sound anything like this song."

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",[9][10] 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 as a paean to the impossibility of reaching musical perfection, making the claim that the greatest song in the world had in fact been theirs, but that they had forgotten it.

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 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.

Music video[edit]

Jack Black and Kyle Gass in "Tribute" video.

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 song.

As they sing, 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, Black and Gass jump out of the booth and start 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 JR Reed, who played "Lee" in the band's television series, 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.[11]

Although the video had huge success on UK television, 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".[12] In addition, it was a nominee for best video in the 2002 Kerrang! Awards.[13]


Some critics described the plot of the song as being similar to the song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band.[1][7][14]

Track listings[edit]

CD single (Epic Records #673519 1)

  1. "Tribute" – 4:08
  2. "Jesus Ranch" (demo) – 2:14

CD single (Epic Records #673519 2)

  1. "Tribute" – 4:08
  2. "Cosmic Shame" (live) – 4:28 Recorded at the Cox Arena in San Diego on November 20, 2001.
  3. "Friendship" – 2:00
  4. "Tribute" (Video) – 4:08
  5. "Wonderboy" (Video) – 4:07

Australia and New Zealand CD single (Epic Records #672893.2)

  1. "Tribute" (Radio Edit) – 4:08
  2. "Cave Intro" – 0:46
  3. "Jesus Ranch" (demo) – 2:14
  4. "Kyle Quit the Band" (demo) – 2:10
  5. "Explosivo" (Mocean Worker's Megamix) – 5:02

Chart performance[edit]


Other versions[edit]

Polish heavy metal band Nocny Kochanek has recorded a Polish version of the song in 2018, called Tribjut[19] (English word "tribute" as heard in Polish language). The story revolves around two members of the band strolling around Warsaw in the night until they meet the Devil lying down on a street. They all go binge drinking in the capital of Poland, culminating with the Devil passing out.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Strauss, Neil (2001-08-20). "Foraging for Music in the Digital Jungle". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  2. ^ Baltin, Steve (2004-07-07). "Phair, Grohl Sing for Dems". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  3. ^ Williams, Mary (2001-08-26). "Tenacious D 'rocks' the Wiltern". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  4. ^ Kaiser, Lindsey (2006-11-21). "'Pick'ing out their Hollywood destiny". Retrieved 2008-03-23.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Scott Thurlow, James Caverly (2003-05-22). "HBOwesome". Retrieved 2008-03-23.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Scott, Aaron. "Tenacious D". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  7. ^ a b Price, Simon (2006-12-24). "Iron Maiden, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  8. ^ Anderson, Eric (2001-10-04). "The 'D' drops". Archived from the original on 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  9. ^ Emily Watson and Lauren Thompson (2006-11-22). "The D contemplates rock-off for soul and the perfect groupie". The Daily Texan. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  10. ^ JimmyO (2006-11-22). "INT: Tenacious D!". Archived from the original on 2006-12-06. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  11. ^ Video on YouTube
  12. ^ "News Archive". Archived from the original on March 15, 2008. Retrieved January 24, 2007.
  13. ^ "The Kerrang! Awards 2002". Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  14. ^ Waldman, Dave (2001-09-27). "Tenacious D makes move into music". Archived from the original on 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2008-03-23.
  15. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40, week 8 2003" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  16. ^ a b "Tenacious D". Retrieved 2008-02-14.
  17. ^ "Discography Tenacious D". Retrieved 2008-02-14.
  18. ^ "Top 50 Singles Chart #1333". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 2009-02-08. Retrieved 2008-01-03.
  19. ^ "Nocny Kochanek w hołdzie dla fanów publikuje w sieci klip do utworu „Tribjut"" (in Polish). 2018-06-21. Retrieved 2018-10-04.