SecondHandSongs lists over 30 covers of the Rolling Stones’ 1966 single “19th Nervous Breakdown.” The song was Mick Jagger’s takedown of the neuroses of overprivileged youth—and according to Simon Philo in British Invasion: The Crosscurrents of Musical Influence it may have even been a swipe at model Chrissie Shrimpton, who was Jagger’s girlfriend until the year that song came out. But I suspect its durability lies more in its catchiness—the interplay between Brian Jones’ and Keith Richards’ bouncy guitar lines probably held more appeal for the dozens of artists covering the song than Jagger’s contempt for poor-little-rich-girls.
But there is one cover that eschews basically everything that makes the song recognizable—even the lyrics—and surely qualifies as the single strangest cover of the song in existence, stranger even than Nash the Slash’s. I refer to the version by San Francisco’s Tuxedomoon. Like Pere Ubu and Cabaret Voltaire, Tuxedomoon were way ahead of the pack, forming and codifying familiar post-punk tropes during a time when punk itself was still on the rise. They were part of a wildly experimental Bay Area scene that included the likes of The Residents, Chrome, MX-80, Pink Section, and Dead Kennedys, and as such they were part of the compilation Can You Hear Me? Music From The Deaf Club in 1981, a collection which includes their Stones cover.
The Deaf Club, located at 530 Valencia Street, was discovered by Robert Hanrahan, the manager of The Offs. The small space—full name the San Francisco Club for the Deaf—was in fact a social club for deaf people to hang out in and could be rented on a nightly basis. As far as the regulars, they were content with the music being played as loud as the bands wanted. The San Francisco Chronicle once reported the temporary closing of The Deaf Club due to neighbor complaints with the amusing headline: “Deaf Club Closed Due to Excessive Noise Levels.” (Edward Jauregui, executive director of Deaf Self Help told Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, “We all like to dance, and we can feel the vibrations.” When Caen asked about the neighbors, Jauregui told him “They’re going crazy. They keep calling the cops, complaining the noise is deafening. Isn’t that rich?”). John Waters even stopped by when he was in San Francisco to see what the fuss was all about.
Keep reading after the jump…