I’m fascinated by people who use the name Spider-Man in their music, but don’t reference any aspect having remotely to do with Spider-Man and in some cases go completely in a different direction. If they claim they’ve never heard of Spider-Man, I don’t believe them.
I found this to be a common motif in songs about Swamp Thing, but in a way, that’s more understandable, since while Swamp Thing is out there in the world, he hasn’t been a mainstay in popular culture for anywhere near as long as Spider-Man. At the same time, Spider-Man is an evocative name that can be used to inspire fear and the bizarre in a way similar to Batman, so some people have taken advantage of that malleability in strange ways. Let’s not even mention any song about Doctor Octopus. Yet anyhow.
Peter Griffin – Spiderman
This German pop disco from 1979 confuses Spider-Man with Jack the Ripper, but that’s perfectly understandable, right? This video clip very clearly features a Spider-Man-like emblem with webbing and his Spidermask eyes flashing in back of Griffin though so who knows what’s going on here! Something lost in the translation to German, maybe?
Griffin was a nightclub owner who recorded a few disco singles that made very little impact in the world. Right before he embarked on a singing career, he was in Baden-Baden, helming a club called Griffin’s, the atmopshere of which this German music podcast attempts to recreate, I think.
Griffin’s real name was Peter Karp and he recorded some singles in the early 1960s under that name and seemed to pursue music all his life. He was apparently in a production of “Hair” in 1971 with Donna Summer! Later he moved to be in a band in South Africa and then came back to Germany to be a dee-jay. That’s when he recorded his first disco song “I Hate The Music,” which was apparently a regional hit. It was after that he recorded “Spiderman.”
He was in a TV show, recorded a song for the German Davis Cup Team, owned some restaurants in Baden-Baden — OXMOX and La Provence — and even a city councillor there. Griffin died in 2007.
Strangely, a totally different song, also called “Spiderman,” is sung by fictional character Peter Griffin on The Family Guy DVD releaseStewie Griffin: The Untold Story, though it’s actually the Batman theme with Spider-Man lyrics — something the band Charlie did a lot more professionally with their song “Spidey Batz.” And if that’s not enough, Donna Summer was a key part of a Robert Mapplethorpe gag on The Family Guy episode “Herpe, the Love Sore” AND her duet with Barbara Streisand, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)“ was performed in the same Family Guy DVD release as the Spider-Man song. I don’t even LIKE The Family Guy and the connections amaze me!
Still I will admit that because it in no way describes the Spider-Man we are familiar with, some may think this Griffin song is questionable as a Spider-Man song. Perfectly acceptable, even though you are wrong. And you are also wrong about these following songs if you think that.
Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias – Peter Parker
I dunno. Imagine he’s getting on the bus and Mysterio attacks and Spider-Man starts hallucinating. I could see it happening. And this song does a good job of making the scenario come to life. Of course, I can’t guarantee that’s what the band was thinking at the time, but considering this British novelty band also made other strange recordings like this parody of Lou Reed’s song “Heroin,” maybe that’s exactly kind of bizarre thing they were thinking. Bonzo Dog Band member Roger Ruskin Spear is apparently featured on this track, just to amp up the British eccentric novelty cred here. Stream it on Spotify.
American Tribal Ensemble – Spiderman
This is a version of Sarah James’ poem that adds an avant-jazz musical backdrop. I believe it is James delivering the vocal. In this, Spider-Man is a glittering prize who is fooling you. He’s a bit manipulative, drawing you in for his own needs. It’s foreboding and creepy. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.
Fickle Pickle – Doctor Octopus
I’m ready to mention that song about Doctor Octopus. You’re going to tell me that this is probably certainly not about the Doctor Octopus of Spidey fame, but should that matter? It’s a song called “Doctor Octopus” that’s about someone named “Doctor Octopus.” Aren’t the details inadmissible to what’s right in front of us? Who cares if it also mentions “Constipated Crocodile” and “Impotent Iguanas?” They could be Spider-Ham villains, couldn’t they?
Fickle Pickle was a British psychedelic pop band with a sense of humor — another eccentric British novelty band, that is, at least part-time — that recorded one album and a bunch of singles from 1970 to 1972, including the catchy “California Calling” to which “Doctor Octopus” was the b-side. They also covered Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” and did a better version of “Old Fashioned Love Song” than Three Dog Night, but more importantly they did this excellent and rather astonishing song called “The Man With One Leg.” They seem pretty cool, in fact cool enough to have read Spider-Man and be aware of the existence of a certain Doctor Octopus, so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. Buy it here or stream it on Spotify.