A week before Christmas, Netflix posted F is for Family, a new animated series based on the politically incorrect outlook of acerbic stand-up comedian Bill Burr. Co-written by Burr and frequent Simpsons scribe Michael Price, the show also features the vocal talents of Laura Dern, Justin Long, Sam Rockwell, Phil Hendrie and others. F is for Family is set in 1973, a time of prog rock, when dads were kings of their castles, kids were left to play unsupervised on construction sites and “the Japs” were beating our asses with their cheap imported cars. Burr plays Frank Murphy, a rant-prone typically angry blue collar 70s dad—we all had one—who works in baggage handling at the local airport and watches a lot of TV.
I liked it a lot, but then again I get all the jokes since I was seven the year it supposedly takes place. If you like Bill Burr—and who doesn’t love a man who can do THIS—it doesn’t disappoint. It’s smart and funny, somewhat self-consciously playing like a Norman Lear comedy with a fuck of a lot more swearing.
The show has an opening title sequence that is set to 1974’s AM radio hit “Come and Get Your Love,” which I think is one of the best songs of like all time. It’s an unbelievably catchy earworm that evokes a nice summer day, with the wind in your hair, just being young and carefree and this is what we’re grooving along to as we see a young Frank graduate from high school, optimistic and flying through the clouds, ready to go out and conquer the world before a draft notice smacks him in the face. Before our eyes we see him get paunchier, a pair of glasses and a bald spot along with the nagging responsibilities of his wife and three kids (“They’re animals”). It’s the most perfect way to introduce the character of Frank—or any father of that generation.
The reason I mention this is because if you’ve seen the show—you might know the song (or have heard it elsewhere, such as Guardians of the Galaxy) but do you recall the group who did it? Probably not. They were called Redbone and billed themselves as the first Native American/Cajun rock group. They were really amazing musicians who are worthy of “rediscovery” by rock snobs.
Redbone (not to be confused with Leon Redbone, the idiosyncratic Canadian Tin Pan Alley-style singer-songwriter) was formed by brothers Pat and Lolly Vasquez-Vegas in 1969. Previously they had been hotshot LA session musicians known professionally as the Avantis and later as the Vegas Brothers—their paths crossed in the studio with the likes of Glenn Campbell, Snuff Garrett, Sonny & Cher, Delaney Bramlett, Leon Russell, Elvis and many other notables—but two Mexican guys playing surf rock wasn’t really something that they felt the entertainment industry wanted at the time, hence the switch to the more overtly Native American image with a bit of Cajun spice. They had two big hits, the first being “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” (about 19th century voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau) in 1971. By the time of Cher’s “Half-Breed” in 1973—“Redbone” being Cajun slang for someone of mixed heritage—it must’ve felt like the right moment for the group to take advantage of this nascent Native American chic.
More after the jump…