monday song #81: room 4 rent


i didn’t have much time this week, so i went with a tiny tune. this is the theme song to the show ‘room 4 rent.’ i wrote this one fifteen years ago and have had it in my head ever since. this is the first time i ever recorded it, so i actually had to figure out the harmonies at the end.

my friends and i spent a year tossing around ideas and eventually writing a pilot episode of the show.

it was about three guys, fresh out of college, who live in a four-room house, and they’re always trying to rent out the fourth room (unlimited guest star potential!). one guy plays in a rock band and delivers things (pizzas, flowers, videos – this was the late 90s), one guy is a frustrated screenwriter who temps, and one guy is basically the gen x kramer: a mystery man of many talents, few of which are legal. the rock delivery guy has a girlfriend who is a waitress, trying to get into grad school. pretty much a fun-house mirror view of the writers and some key friends (and future wives).

it was great fun to write, and the script still makes me howl. we actually had a meeting to pitch the idea, and the guy was really positive about it. but the script, not so much. what we thought was crazy, original and hilarious, he thought was just crazy.

turns out we were just ahead of our time: if you’ve ever seen the show ‘it’s always sunny in philadelphia,’ that’s pretty much the show – amoral people doing stupid things and getting into and out of trouble. you don’t really like them, but they’re so damn funny. our show was not quite as offensive, but it was just the pilot.

in a perfect world, lemmy would be singing this tune. mine is just a passable impersonation. the bass sounds just like his, though. looks like his too!

in case you don’t have kids, the last little nugget – ‘life’s a nightmare’ – is a nod to ‘malcolm in the middle,’ my kids’ favorite comedy. apparently there’s this bryan cranston look-alike who plays the father. even has the same name. with the sole exception of their predilection for scenes in their underwear, the two could not be at further extremes of the silly/serious spectrum.

one last note: the line “they tell you it’s zen, but it isn’t” is one of my favorite rhymes, and a key reason i remember the nugget all these years later.