The Corner

Mary Tyler Moore, Punk-Rock Icon

The best cover version of the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song, “Love Is All Around,” was recorded by Hüsker Dü, whose members, Minnesota boys all, delivered the vocals in their customary stifled-anguish style, as if watching MTM reruns were the only thing standing between them and a complete emotional breakdown. (This despite their use of the second set of lyrics for the song, which were much jauntier than the angst-ridden ones from the first season (“How will you make it on your own? . . . ”).) Bob Mould, the band’s guitarist, still performs the theme on occasion and somehow manages to find political content in it.

Mary was also invoked in Dean and the Weenies’ mid-1980s classic “F*** You” [language warning, if you really need one]. Dean Johnson, the frontman, was a 6-foot-4-inch bald transvestite (which used to make him unusual on the Lower East Side) who, unlike many other punk-rock performers, led a true punk lifestyle to match. As its title suggests, the song begins with Johnson expressing contempt for conventional social customs and mores; it climaxes with the band members joining in with him to shout out a catalogue of their favorite targets:

F*** Union Carbide!

F*** Third-World genocide!

F*** thermonuclear war!

F*** Mary . . . Tyler . . . Moore!

The last line always got a huge cheer from the crowd. Sadly, Dean Johnson is no longer with us, but his political descendants were very much in evidence on the streets of America last weekend.

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