Michael Shannon Gives an Exclusive Performance of His Armadillo Song

Michael Shannon Gives an Exclusive Performance of His Armadillo Song

-Welcome back to “Late Night.” We’re here with Michael Shannon.nYou are not just an actor. You’re an accomplished musician.nYou were just back in Chicago doing some showsnwith your friend Jason. Which one here is Jason? -Jason Narducy.nHe’s an amazing bass player. He plays with Bob Mould. He also has his own band,nSplit Single. He’s incredible.n-And you guys do — When you perform, you do — you pick an albumnand do every song off an album. -Yes, sir.nThis time we did a Neil Young albumncalled “Zuma.” -Okay.n-Did a “Cortez the Killer” that was over 20 minutes long.n-[ Laughs ] Do you feel like that wasnan album that the crowd knew, or were they just sort ofnalong for the ride? -It was about 50/50.nI mean, I think there were some people there ’cause ofnlike, “Oh, look, it’s him,” and there were some people like,n”I love this album, man.” You know?n-[ Laughs ] That’s good. Nice to have a mixnwhen you’re doing a show. You had a band.nHow old was your — Your first band was callednJehovah’s what? -Jehovah’s Suspects.n-Okay, Jehovah’s Suspects. [ Laughter ]n-Yeah, yeah. That wasnwhen I was 15 years old. I was livingnin Lexington, Kentucky. And my best friend at the timenwas a fella named James Brown. -Okay.n-Not the James Brown. -Right.n[ Laughter ] No parent would let their kid be friends withnthe James Brown at 15. -I mean, you know –nYeah, you’re probably right. Yeah, him and some buddies,nhim, we got together, and we learned — what –nWe learned, like, “Give Me Three Steps”nby Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Communication Breakdown,”n”Hey, Joe.” And then I wrote a song. I wrote my first song at 15.nYeah. -What was thatnfirst song called? -It’s calledn”The Armadillo Song.” -“The Armadillo Song.”n-Mm-hmm. -And when you first presented itnto the rest of your bandmates, were they taken with it? -They were stokednbecause it’s mostly just one chord…n-Okay, gotcha. -…and it wasn’t too fast,nso it wasn’t hard to play. But, yeah,nit was kind of miraculous. I don’t think they hadnanticipated an original song. -Yeah, that’s a big deal.nI mean if you’re a cover band and all of a sudden,nyou get a new one… What — Do you remember it?n-I do. -Have you ever played it,nlike, live? Did you guys do it at a show?n-[ Laughs ] -I haven’t played itnin a while, but — -But you do think — you’renconfident you remember it? -Mm-hmm.nI can do it. -Do you want to do it?n-Yeah, I can do it. -All right.n-I can do it. -Do you, uh, have a guitar?n-Oh, well, look at this. Yeah, I do.n[ Laughter ] -That’s great. I didn’t even knownwe had that back there. That’s fantastic.n-All right. Okay. -So, like, how many –nJust paint a picture. Jehovah’s Suspects,nwhat’s a normal audience like? How many peoplenyou got out there? -It’s usually liken10, 15 teenagers with Dixie cups filled with some incorrectnamount of alcohol, soda pop. [ Laughter ]n-All right. And is this a songnyou just go into, or did you preface it all,nlike, “This is a new one”…? -Ladies and gentlemen…n[ Laughter ] …I was up all night. Couldn’t go to –nNo, I’d just start playing. Just started playing it. ♪♪ ♪ I wake up,nand it’s a sunny day ♪ ♪ I shake my head,nand I crawl away ♪ ♪ My stomach growls ♪ ♪ I have not been fed ♪ ♪ And visions of cactus pearsnprick the insides of my head ♪ ♪ And the Earth stands stillnas I punch through the heat ♪ ♪ The white-hot sand, it burnsnthe bottoms of my feet ♪ ♪ I’m an armadillonwith a hard shell ♪ ♪ I look scared and ugly ♪ ♪ And I got a strange smell ♪ ♪ Yeah ♪ [ Laughter ] [ Humming ] ♪♪ Yeah, that was the bridge. [ Laughter ] ♪♪ ♪ I remember the day ♪ ♪ When I left home ♪ ♪ My mama started crying,nand my pop gave me a comb ♪ ♪ He said,n”You got to look presentable ♪ ♪ Otherwise they don’t care” ♪ ♪ He never seemed to notice ♪ ♪ We ain’t got no hair ♪ [ Laughter ] ♪ I miss my folks ♪ ♪ Don’t get me wrong ♪ ♪ But I happen to knownthat this is where I belong ♪ ♪ ‘Cause I’m an armadillonwith a hard shell ♪ ♪♪ ♪ And I was madento roam this desolate hell ♪ ♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -I mean,nthat’s a real-ass song, Michael. [ Laughter ] -About armadillos. Can I tell you something,nthough? -Yeah.n-‘Cause, like, I had never seen an armadillonwhen I wrote that song. [ Laughter ] And years later,nI was on a camping trip with one of my best friendsnfrom Chicago. We went to Cumberland Island,noff the coast of Georgia, which is coverednwith armadillos, and they had tons of hair. It’s just not on top of them.nIt’s on their underside. And then, I had to takena long, hard look at my song, but I didn’t change it.n-Yeah. -Because I didn’t knownwhat to replace it with. -I agree. And I think, you know,npeople know it that way. You’re gonna havenpeople singing along. They’re not gonna want younto all of a sudden change out the lyrics.n-Yeah, when you’re at MSG playing the song, you don’tnwant people getting confused. -Yeah, just for some sort of,nlike, zoological accuracy. They’re not there for that.nThey’re there to jam out. -Right, exactly.n-Did you do a little — ‘Cause it did seem to havensome knowledge of armadillos. Did you do a little, like,nresearch before your wrote — It feels like maybe, like,nyou had also been assigned, like, to donan oral report on armadillos. -I imagined, like, an armadillonin the desert struggling to survive, which is how I very much feltnas my 15-year-old self could identify with that. -See, this is hownyou should introduce the song. -Yeah, yeah. Well, I don’t wantnto make people cry, but… [ Laughter ] But, uh… But then, like I said,nI went to this island. It was a very lush island,nnot a desert, and all the armadillosnwere covered with hair. -[ Laughs ]n-And it just goes to show that how little grasp of realitynany of us really have. [ Laughter ] -That is –nI mean, yeah, they don’t tell you that atnRipley’s Believe It or Not. -No.n”Can you believe it? Armadillos have hair!”n[ Laughter ] -Hey, thank you so muchnfor giving us the world premiere of “The Armadillo Song.”n-Changing your life. -Changing my life.nI was gonna say that, too. New episodes ofn”Nine Perfect Strangers” premiere Wednesdays on Hulu.
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Michael Shannon Gives an Exclusive Performance of His Armadillo Song

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