Not Bad For A Boy

The story behind one of Bobby Bird's most iconic album covers

          When I was a kid, one of my mom's boyfriends, decent fella named Dirk, was always telling me stories about pee—you know, urinating—to try and connect with me. Was actually a pretty smart tactic. Kids like gross stuff like that. Boogers, poops, pimples getting popped. Problem was, Dirk only told me about these stories in the vaguest of ways before he went off on a sojourn to work in a marble quarry in Vermont, 'bout as far away from Arizona as you can get.

            Anyways, the two stories he told me that stuck in my head the most went like this. One, he said that him and his friends used to steal "liver pills" from an old man down the block that would turn their piss blue. The story left me with all kinds of tantalizing questions. How blue? Light like antifreeze or dark as ink? Could you paint the walls with the stuff, spell your name in the sand?

            The other story was about a buddy of his who was so good at peeing that he could "piss over an ornamental orange tree." The details of how he'd achieved such a feat also left my imagination working over time.  I imagined a profound arching of the back, a thrust of the pelvis, a particularly elastic bladder.

            This album,"Not Bad For a Boy" is named after the title track, a simple little song about a young man named Stewart who's doing his best to keep his desires for mayhem and womanizing at bay. He's not doing great, by any meausre, but as the chorus goes, "Stew could be cruel, crude, and annoy, but we all know that ain't too bad for a boy."

            When we were trying to figure out what the album cover should be, I told the art director Dirk's pee stories, and he put together what you see here, front and back:

Pretty funny, pretty cool. I like them both a lot.  Wrote a quick little song about the pills too, "Mr. Wither's Liver Pills." Everyone thought the lyrics, especially, "They'll turn your tinkle blue, boy," were metaphoric for the weird pills I was messing with at the time, and the way that they were making me depressed, AKA, blue. Nope. The lyrics were totally literal, but until now I let that legend stand cause it made me sound like a real deep guy. And girls like real deep guys a good deal more than they do guys who write songs about pee pee.

            Also, real quick bit about Dirk. One day, maybe a year or two after he'd left, I found my mom crying, and she told me that the old boy had died on the job. I figured a marble quarry must be a lot like the gold mines on the Western shows I watched, and that he'd died in some kind of accident. I imagined he'd gone off around a corner by himself and there'd been a cave-in that buried him alive. I imagined that he'd gone to take a pee. Later, I found out that he'd actually been shot by his foreman, whose wife he'd been sleeping with. So guess my mom was crying for at least two reasons that night.