too much typing—since 2003

4.21.2008

the font that caused the Vietnam War

I finally got around to watching the Helvetica film the other night. I liked it: an interesting pocket history of a particular pendulum swing in cultural meaning (when what was once fresh, clean, and modern becomes sterile, cliched, and corporate, at least in one narrative), and the film had a well-chosen soundtrack including a selection of musicians (including the Album Leaf, Caribou, Sam Prekop, Battles, and Four Tet).

But where was Couch Flambeau? That's right: Milwaukee's own Couch Flambeau recorded a song called "Helvetica" way back in the late '80s, originally released on Atomic Records' Badger-a-Go-Go compilation in 1989. (A different recording was on the Couch's own career compilation I Did a Power Slide in the Taco Stand a few years back.)

So how many other songs are there about fonts? Arguably Camper Van Beethoven's New Roman Times album title takes off from the font name, and of course the band Times New Viking's name is probably some sort of homage to the same font...but song titles? P22 Fonts out of Buffalo also runs a record label, and it's released a few "tribute albums" to some of its fonts (I suppose "commissioned" might be a better verb there), but that all seems a bit in-house: Couch Flambeau's got nothing to do with Linotype (the current owners of Helvetica) so far as I know. So: does anyone know of any other songs about fonts?

Couch Flambeau "Helvetica" (Badger-a-Go-Go compilation, 1989)

3 comments:

125records said...

I've had a hell of a time trying to find bands to commit to writing a song for 125 Records' tribute to Comic Sans.

2fs said...

That's because they know what would happen to them.

You know what's worse than Comic Sans? Papyrus. I mean, c'mon: why not just put up an enormous sign saying I HAVE AWFUL, CHEEZY TASTE ?

125records said...

That Comic Sans comic strip made me laugh 'til my stomach hurt. And boy, do I hear you re: Papyrus. For months, I've been intending to start taking photos of all the local businesses that use it for their signage, because there are SO MANY of them and DON'T THEY KNOW IT SUCKS?!?! Papyrus is the Mistral of the '00s.