I’m Just a Teenage Dirtbag, What Do I Know?

The theme for this week’s SLS is “songs about School, College, Education, Class, Degree” and this was also suggested by Paula of Light Motifs II. I randomly selected the song I am featuring hoping it would fit into the theme. I started playing the song as I carefully read the lyrics and voila! It does fit. Lucky me to still have a retained memory of the song albeit, wasn’t all that clear and solid. I needed some help from Wikipedia.

Teenage Dirtbag is a song by American rock band Wheatus. It was released on June 20, 2000, as the lead single from their eponymous debut album (2000). The song was written by guitarist and vocalist Brendan B. Brown and was inspired by a childhood experience of his.

The song was successful in Australia, spending four weeks at number one, being certified 3ร— Platinum, and becoming the second-best-selling single of 2000. It also reached number one in Austria and Flanders while peaking at number two in Ireland, Germany, and the United Kingdom, where it was certified 2ร— Platinum in 2018. It has sold 5 million copies worldwide as of 2014.

Teenage Dirtbag is about a childhood experience that guitarist and vocalist Brendan B. Brown had. In a 2012 interview with Tone Deaf, he said: “It came from the summer of 1984 on Long Island, when I was 10 years old. That summer in the woods behind my house, there was a Satanic, drug-induced ritual teen homicide that went down; and the kid who did it was called Ricky Kasso, and he was arrested wearing an AC/DC T-shirt. That made all the papers, and the television, obviously; and here I was, 10 years old, walking around with a case full of AC/DC and Iron Maiden and Metallica [songs] โ€“ and all the parents and the teachers and the cops thought I was some kind of Satan worshipper. So that’s the backdrop for that song.” Brown also added that the song’s sing-along chorus remains an act of defiance: “so when I sing: ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag’, I’m effectively saying: ‘Yeah, fuck you if you don’t like it. Just because I like AC/DC doesn’t mean I’m a devil worshipper, and you’re an idiot.’ That’s where it comes from.”

In the same interview, regarding the possible reasons for its continued success, Brown recalled his father’s words: “Every teenager has to go through that ‘being an outsider’ thing, at least a little bit. So that story is still the same for people, even if it’s thirty years after I went through it.”

Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus

Her name is Noelle
I have a dream about her
She rings my bell
I got gym class in half an hour
Oh, how she rocks
In Keds and tube socks
But she doesn’t know who I am
And she doesn’t give a damn about me’

Cause I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby
Yeah, I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby
Listen to Iron Maiden, baby, with me
Oo-o-o-oo-o-oh

Her boyfriend’s a dick
And he brings a gun to school
And he’d simply kick
My ass if he knew the truth
He lives on my block
And he drives an IROC
But he doesn’t know who I am
And he doesn’t give a damn about me’

Cause I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby
Yeah, I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby
Listen to Iron Maiden, baby, with me
Oo-o-o-oo-o-ohOh yeah, dirtbag
No, she doesn’t know what she’s missing
Oh yeah, dirtbag
No, she doesn’t know what she’s missing

Man, I feel like mold
It’s prom night and I am lonely
Lo and behold
She’s walking over to me
This must be fake
My lip starts to shake
How does she know who I am?
And why does she give a damn about me?

I’ve got two tickets to Iron Maiden, baby
Come with me Friday, don’t say maybe
I’m just a teenage dirtbag baby like you
Oo-o-oo-ohOh yeah, dirtbag
No, she doesn’t know what she’s missing
Oh yeah, dirtbag
No, she doesn’t know what she’s missing

21 thoughts on “I’m Just a Teenage Dirtbag, What Do I Know?

        1. LOL re: Christmas stocking-fillers!!!

          Motown songs are great & I have sensed that you liked reggae but I didn’t know that you’d describe it to be your natural music… that’s awesome!!! and I wish to have lived in the 70s… people are much cooler!

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I certainly remember the song at the time and it is still played regularly here. As for AC/DC, the whole devil worshipper thing does make you laugh. Bon Scott grew up in Fremantle (down the road from us), his ashes are interred at the Fremantle Cemetery and his statue is on the Fremantle foreshore. He was a wee bloke, but led a colourful life as a youth and is much beloved – someone who was troubled for a while, but went on to make a huge impact before passing away at a young age. Last year, just prior to the pandemic, our city closed its main streets and had tribute bands play AC/DC songs on the back of flatbed trucks over a distance of at least 10kms, marking the 40th anniversary since Bonโ€™s passing. Imagine all those bag pipes – it was pretty awesome: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-02/acdc-tribute-highway-to-hell-rocks-perth/12015120

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s one of the songs that definitely sticks (because all teens can probably relate at some point)… As for AC/DC, it’s likely because their song is one of the heavily backmasked records that would indicate devil worship? That still bugs me because some of these songs were gospel songs and praise songs…

      As for Bon Scott, did you know him? It must have been fun to know someone that famous.. and oh, that crowd! They’ve got so many fans… He is truly loved!!! but that event was a super spreader… Glad it happened in February… luckily few days short…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We tend to forget that AC/DC were real trail blazers and the Young brothers were great guitarists and the whole band were very serious musicians. Underneath it all they were (are) a blues rock band. Their critics failed to recognise their humour really. Angus did put the whole backtrack nonsense to bed. Highway to Hell refers to the road that last yearโ€™s tribute was held on.

        Bon, was just before my time of being able to hit the pubs here. However, my first year at uni was the year after his passing, so we got to see the great Aussie bands including AC/DC at the local pubs at that time. Imagine that, instead of at an overcrowded concert somewhere. My parents were part of the music scene in the late 60s and early 70s. So, I got to hang out with whoever (not really knowing who they were) and certainly experienced lots of stories. I guess our great rock god was Billy Thorpe and dad was his โ€œroad managerโ€ here re concerts in the early 70s. When dad passed away, some of the band from that time (who were also his very best mates) came along to his funeral (Billy had passed away a couple of years before) and gave me photos from the concerts. Of course I got to tell some Billy stories. Anyway, here is a golden oldie from Billy, as itโ€™s almost summer here and perhaps the least rockiest of his songs: https://youtu.be/659BB5W838I

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        1. Wow.. really? Being that close to someone as big as Billy Thorpe is a huge deal!!! Impressive!

          AC/DC were trail blazers indeed and what’s great is that even the young ones of today enjoy their music… My father, who is a pastor enjoy AC/DC music… seems odd right? But he loves rock music and that is his only jam…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well it was Dadโ€™s life and story and I was very lucky to be a part of it. One day I might tell my favourite story between the two.

            I think your father is not odd at all. He like many Christians, enjoy AC/DC. And many of us have always liked to play those riffs on our guitars ๐Ÿ˜Ž

            Liked by 1 person

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