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Love Shack by The B-52's

Album: Cosmic ThingReleased: 1989Charted:
Get some Geography in the Love Shack Songplaces
  • The "Love Shack" is in many ways a state of mind; a place where people of all stripes come for a groovy good time. The band drew inspiration from the club in the movie The Color Purple, and also from a real club outside of Athens, Georgia called the Hawaiian Ha-Le, where they would hang out. This place drew a multifarious crowd of hippies, scenesters, and lots of students from the nearby University of Georgia. Drummer Keith Strickland has also mentioned keg parties out in the country as another inspiration.
  • The title and some of the lyrics were inspired by a 1970 Temptations song called "Psychedelic Shack," which has the refrain: "Psychedelic Shack, that's where it's at."
  • This introduced The B-52's to a mainstream audience. They had a strong cult following, especially in the gay community and on college radio, but "Love Shack" broke them big. Many listeners who discovered them through this song had no idea they had been around for over a decade and had released four previous albums.

    "Love Shack" was their first entry on the US Top 40 (their most popular song to this point: "Rock Lobster"). The follow-up single, "Roam," also made #3, but pop success proved fleeting and they never got higher than #28 ("Good Stuff" - 1992) with any subsequent releases.
  • One of the most famous breakdowns in pop music comes near the end of this song, when the music stops and Fred Schneider asks, "You're what?"

    Cindy Wilson replies with one of the most famous misinterpreted lines in pop music, as she wails, "Tin Roof, Rusted." The line is commonly misheard, often as something like, "Hennnnn-ry, busted."

    This section came from a happy accident: the track stopped as Wilson was doing her vocal, and she just kept singing, which gave them the idea to stop the music in this section. As for the line itself, there were rumors that "Tin Roof, Rusted" meant a pregnant woman. The band denied this.
  • The lyrics are fun and harmless, but they can be interpreted as being about a place where people go to have sex. At Disney World, you will never see Mickey Mouse dancing to it - really - they refuse to play it at Disney weddings.
  • The video was shot at a house in Upstate New York belonging to a friend of the band who can be seen in the garden as the camera sweeps by the window. It was directed by Adam Bernstein, the go-to director for irreverent videos. His other work includes "Baby Got Back" for Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Hey Ladies" for Beastie Boys, and several episodes of the TV series Breaking Bad.
  • Drag queen Rupaul, unknown at the time, is in the video. He had a dance hit called "Supermodel (You Better Work)" a few years later.
  • Nile Rodgers and Don Was produced this track. Rodgers has produced hits for Peter Gabriel, Madonna and David Bowie, as well as his group Chic, who had disco hits with "Le Freak" and "Good Times." Was has worked with Jewel, Bob Dylan, Elton John and The Rolling Stones. He also had his own group in the '80s called Was Not Was, who had a hit with "Walk The Dinosaur."
  • The line, "The love shack is a little old place where we can get together" originally showed up just once in the song, but producer Don Was convinced the group to repeat that line, as it makes a nice hook. Kate Pierson credits Was with turning this song into a hit; on previous albums they often performed the songs live before they recorded them, but the tracks on Cosmic Thing were recorded before they could play them outside of the studio. "He really helped us structure that," she told The A/V Club. "It's just such an iconic song that everybody just feels this joy. When we play it, everyone just lets their inner freak out."
  • The location of the actual Love Shack is not clear (since it doesn't really exist), but in 2004 MSNBC reported that an unoccupied, 5-room cabin with a tin roof in Athens, Georgia that had recently burned down was probably the dwelling in question. Kate Pierson lived there in the '70s.
  • Over the years, various adult video stores have cropped up using the Love Shack name. There was also a movie released on video in 2010 called Love Shack, which was about a group of porn stars who get together to make a film in honor of a deceased producer.
  • The group performed this on an episode of The Simpsons as "Glove Slap."
  • Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson performed this at the 2002 Jammy Awards with the group Particle. Since the awards honored jam bands, they stretched the song into an extended jam.
  • The horns were provided by The Uptown Horns, a New York-based section that toured with the J. Geils Band on their Freeze Frame tour and played on Tom Waits' Rain Dogs album.
  • The Cosmic Thing album was the first one the group recorded without guitarist Ricky Wilson, who died of AIDS in 1985 while they were recording their fourth album, Bouncing off the Satellites, which was released the following year. They didn't tour and weren't sure they would continue, but they carried on with drummer Keith Strickland recording guitar parts in Wilson's style.
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Comments: 44

One thing I love with music is the background tidbits to how the song matter came about, and Jay from Bombay, India, I hope you know how amazing you story was, and as far as I'm concerned you've enter my top 10 list of fun songfacts! Tin roof...rusted!Daniel - New York, New York
if it's a funky old shack out in a field, and the sign by the side of the road is fifteen miles away from the shack and so faded you might not see it, why do you have to pay to use the jukebox? I mean it seems pretty clear this is an abandoned building.Sylvester - Alexandria, Va
I want to go down as claiming, as Ru Paul has himself claimed, that he -was- in fact in the video to this song, the B-52's "Love Shack". Ru Paul had an afro style hair in this video and can be seen at three of these times 2 minutes 4 seconds, 2 minutes 25 seconds, 4 minutes 10 minutes. If you still don't believe this to be true, well, there are some of those who still believe Elvis is alive.Mike - Portland, Or
By holiday request across the cyber cranberry oceans, Thanksgiving trivia facts to settle all the popular myths once and for all. Late 80's I was working for the B-52's in Woodstock NY, specifically Kate Pierson, building some creative adirondack type stuff and renovating Kate's new 2nd home there, and she kindly invited me and my 3yr old son Justin to Thanksgiving with the band and friends at this same Log cabin she had recently bought, on the Lake you see in the 'Channel Z' video. The Thanksgiving holiday was during recording of 'Cosmic Thing' album at Bearsville/Dreamland Studios in the Woodstock area. Some folks featured in this video and others were there at the bountiful table too, RuPaul and some Talking Heads members I think. Just before dinner a really very heavy Thunderstorm began, just driving buckets in true "Woodstock / No More Rain" fashion. Literally during hallowed prayers a leak in the roof popped and began dripping- right into the mashed potatoes, then the stream swung over to the cranberries-then back to the potatoes-then back to the cranberries... All one eyes peeping up in disbelief following the sway back and forth, the timing, the seeming intelligent life in it, until spontaneous laughter overcame the native American type prayers. All eyes landed on me -Grounds and building was my department -Duty Calls !- telepathically got it and so immediately jumped up without words and like superman just landing I bravely marched out into the fierce downpour chin up, being sure to appear weather-indifferent and in brave posture as I walked past the windows like MacArthur, got instantly drenched, and set the ladder on the roof to inspect the matter looking up obliviously like it was a sunny day and there was something important in my focus. Just another clown routine opportunity to me, experienced, and was happy to discharge an impromptu comedic performance for such a swell bunch of known artists. I could hear the laughter about Freds- 'Hurry protect the Bird' crack from inside. Well a tarpaper roof had been laid over an old corrugated Tin Roof which had pitted and deteriorated over time, and the tarpaper had cracked open now too, creating this very entertaining leak. I bunched my shirt and stuck it in to dike the dam till later. I returned indoors shirtless and the roar continued as a puddle quickly formed around me -all like fearless -heroic-absurdly duty faced diligent soldier assho. Even my son was laughing. Thru all the chortling Kate said - "It stopped Jay! You found it ! What was it ?" ...Looking up in ridiculous dejected despair I said ...(wait for it)...


as I dropped my chin defeated on "Rusted". Many Cackles were heard spouting, and Fred was seen scouting me up and down like a REAL Man see... inspecting the area that my shirt was previously covering with those funny eyes he makes, adding yet another crescendo.

An artist colony, everyone in Woodstock had a name for their house there on a sign -"Grandpa's dream" - "Happy meadow" - "Hippie Heaven" and I had suggested to Kate "Private Idaho" but "Love Shack" had already been nailed up at her place in Athens GA where 'Rock Lobster" was conceived, which also had a tin roof apparently. That one was NOT the origin of the quote in the song. The Woodstock cabin seemed to become Kates new Love shack 2 up north near Woodstock NY. They had written or were working on a song to match this name for the 'Cosmic Thing' album, and a few days later in the studio, they elected to do it now with a full stop in it and put Cindy doing the "TIIIIIN ROOF - Rusted" outtake injected in, with the Cackles following (and Fred's eyes in the video too). They suggested I come to Bearsville and hear it in pre-production because they are still all laughing about it, but I had other fish to fry (smaller). Thats the Facts about it, publicly they said it means nothing because it kind of does, the true story doesn't explain well, and showfolk know this hype all adds even more talk and mystique to a great #1 hit, cause everyone thinks it does mean something. It has come to mean many things to different listeners and is perhaps the song's most memorable line. It's all good to me, but root facts are these. It is now common slang esp. in the South now, to mean "Surprise Pregnancy". "Shawania got Tin Roof Rusted" or according to The Urban Dictionary ~ BOY-"You're WHAAAT?" GIRL - "TIIIIIN ROOF -RUSTED !". The true meaning is - It's Called an inside joke, the telling of which dissipates the much better unknown mystique to outsiders. It was from a Thanksgiving feast celebration in the Catskills. The true origin of "Tin Roof Rusted" is in Woodstock NY on Thanksgiving 1988, in a wild thunderstorm, in Kate's log cabin, to extend a Joke within an "unfolding organic moment", as Kate once called it to me herself. Thats it period, Final for all you meandering, speculating creative and unresolved bloggers and music trivia buffs. This is the final insight on it, the mystery is solved for you now. They sonically captured the bubbling bliss of the moment very well huh?- from my point of view at least.

I had a brief but good soul connection with Keith, who is a very decent sensitive really creative spiritual guy. Kate with her fondness for nature and Native American traditions became a friend beyond a client then and was always kindly to me.

Another tidbit, She told me when organizing the album, she put a list of potential producers before a highfalutin psychic in Texas. She said she had already decided to use ace top dog Don Was, but wanted to see if the psychic would have picked him out of a list to confirm the lucky stars in her decision. The psychic told her "If you use This one (Don Was) ANND This One - you will have a Hit album. The other was Nile Rogers. She said she was shocked, "We are Family- Le Freak- Good Times-Disco Nile? But we are New Wave !". "Use this man Nile too, and you will create a Hit Album". Why, she only put his name there as padding, a decoy with many other names she had no intention of ever really using as a producer, and now this. She decided to flow with the universe and take the cosmic advice for "Cosmic Thing" and it went multi-platinum. Both "Roam" and "(Shake Your) Cosmic Thing" went to #3 - "Love Shack" to #1. Love Shack was the band's biggest hit song and first million-copy seller. It was also the band's first song to reach the Billboard Top 40 charts, peaking at number three, also reaching number two on the UK Singles Chart, and was number one for eight weeks in Australia and also number one on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song received a number of accolades following its release. Named as one of the 365 Songs of the Century in 2001, the video for the song received an award from MTV as the Best Group Video, and was named the Best Single of 1989 by Rolling Stone. Additionally, it was ranked #243 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2006, it was also named as one of VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s, placing at #40. In February 1991 The B-52s were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for 'Roam' because they deserved it I think. Kate told me she had to view video archives for days to find the clips you see in the 'Roam' videos, but that she culled "The Right ones". Do any 2 female singers or duo today sound anything remotely as interesting as Kate and Cindy? Let us go back and hear this Love Shack song undressed, for Thankgivings of a pop mystery solved.

My own favorite personal Cosmic Thangs with it all were in pre-technology 1994 India, once when I heard it on an unlikely satellite radio and realized, it was Cosmic Thing -now coming in from spaace. The other was also in India when I befriended a sweet talented German boy who told me he had a rockin' band back home. "O yea- whats your bands name"- "Tin Roof Rusted" - "From the B-52's song?" -- "Hey Wow- you know it !". Yup. Full circle. (Ain't that right Shanthi Boy?)

So 'Love Shack' legitimately belongs evermore on the already awkward Thanksgiving day radio Playlist with 'Alice's Restaurant' from this final revelation day on the matter, Today, Thanksgiving 2012, when I will next post this in all the wrangling 'hidden meaning of Lyrics' sites and blogs to settle all the yammering once and for all about this Tin Roof that Rusted. This music trivia case is now closed. So now if your girlfriend tells you her "Tin Roof Rusted", there is still a slight chance she only means the roof is leaking. And may your Terkey holiday be so Blessed with thankfulness and blessed potatoes, esp. the biggest B-52 fans I ever knew, you Jax and Mags. Hi Kate. Hi Keith, how goes the sonic atmosphere? I've been roaming, ‘cause I wanted to.
Jay - Bombay, India
To Reese from Calgary: actually, that IS Ru Paul. Not only does it say so in the notes above, but he has said so over the years. It is well known that that is him.Kathleen - Clinton, Md
Hate this song. Mainly due to idiots who have done very bad karaoke renditions :Ken - Pittsburgh, Pa
1965 is the year of the chrysler 300 in the video....Dan - North Haven, Ct
Sheesh, people get sexual meanings out of anything, don't they?Dana - Greenwood, Sc
this song always charges me upNiles - Belpre, Oh
"Well it's set way back in the middle of a field/ Just a funky old shack and I gotta get back" refers to earlier classic jazz tunes, "I Wanna Go Back to my Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii" and "Just A Shanty In Old Shanty Town". "Shanty Town" has a hysterical parody by the Miller Brothers Orchestra which talks about "a little queen there in a rocking chair, blowing her top on gator beer". Make of that what you will.Ekristheh - Halath, United States
It's The B-52's best song ever!Daniel Adams - Northumberland, Pa
No one's mentioned this line yet: "Well it's set way back in the middle of a field/Just a funky old shack and I gotta get back" sounds like a reference to the vagina (either unshaven or "landing strip").
BTW, while "tin roof...rusted" is Cindy's line, sometimes Kate would say it live instead, especially when they first toured for the Cosmic Thing album.
John - Philadelphia, Pa
According to The B-52s, Tin Roof Rusted means nothing, but pop culture has turned it into a slang phrase for being pregnant.Tj - Dallas, Tx
The hot Redheaded Bass Player is Sara Lee. She usualally tours with the band. She has also toured with Ani Defranco.Bill - Akron, Oh
Does anyone know the name of the gorgeous red-head playing the bass in the Love Shack video? I fall in love with her every time I see it. She's also seen briefly in a bathtub looking out a window. Maybe she's just an actress and not a musician?Jim - Antelope, Ca
The B52's also made an appearance on the first Flinstones movie with rosie o'donnell they appear in the restaurant scene.Jill - Nederland, Tx
I was told that the chrysler in the video was purchased from a guy in cleveland. I want to know where and who they bought it from. I think i may know him.Mary - Cleveland, Oh
I actually heard that the clog cabin that inspired Love Shack burned down in 2001. Yes ppls Love Shack is actually about a real location. It's unknown to me but from what I understand it was a log cabin that the band saw at one point.Andrew - Chicopee, Ma
I read somewhere that "Tin roof, rusted" was simply improvished gibbersish too. You can interpret practically anything to mean something but this line is pretty much meaningless - great song though!Mick - Sheffield, England
Mickey Mouse would never dance to this song, but Minnie Mouse would. She's f***ing GoofyJim - Houston, Tx
The Chrysler in this song must have been made between 1936 and 1981, which was the era when Chryslers were roughly the size of cabin cruisers, and yes, some types of whales. The white 1966 300 convertible in the video fits the time frame to a "T".Darrell - Eugene, United States
If this is about sex, then the B-52's are really naughty! I mean, Strobe light is obviously about sex, and maybe 52 girls and Quiech Lorraine are too!Joe - Bellingham, Wa
This may be WAY off, but I heard that "TIN ROOF RUSTED" meant that she was on her period. Which kinda makes sense when you think about how he reacted as the lead singer said, "YOU'RE WHAT?" Has anyone else heard that?Pam - Port Saint Lucie, Fl
I hear Nile Rodgers produced this song, but did you know his group Chic's song Le Freak also has a misheard lyric? I heard that song and the opening line sounded like "AHHHH! Free Cow!"Matthew - Dalton, Pa
The Love Shack was a real place with, yes, a rusted tin roof. It was located in the middle of nowhere in an old building with, yes, a rusted tin roof. Patrons would show up packed in cars to dance. It was so active that people would stand in line to just get in. The Love Shack burned down a few years ago leaving just the tin roof.John - Kirkland, Wa
Hmmm...someone fails to hear the double meanings in this song. Reese , that really was RuPaul. Its widely known that that was him.Mo - Newark, Nj
Let me clarify a few thnings:
#1: "Tin Roof, Rusted" DOES NOT mean "pregnant" Cindy (the one who said it in the song) said that she "just made it up"

#2: The black chick in the white outfit with the fro, is NOT Ru Paul!

#3: When he says "hop in my Chrysler it's as big as a whale..." He's ACTUALLY TALKING about his Chrysler!

Reese - Calgary, Canada
"Tin roof , rusted" meaning pregnant seems to be true. When Fred Schneider yells "You're what??!!" His reaction is similar to that of a guy who was just told that his girlfriend is going to have his baby. "you're WHAT?!" That part makes me laugh a little.Mo - Newark, Nj
It is OBVIOUSLY about a place where people go to have sex.Mo - Newark, Nj
The Musical touring UK called loveshack, has to be the worst ever known to man.Sarah - Sunderland
Gosh this song is dirty. My friends giggled when I used to hum along blissfully, but now I know.
Thanks Nia.
Galina - New London, Ct
Atlanta Highway is a real road leaving Athens, GA, where the B-52's are from.Matt - Blue Ridge, Ga
Actually, the lyrics do have meaning, but they're highly suggestive and sexual. Tin roof, rusted IS a term which means pregnant. Glitter is a term for, er, semen. Front porch, hallway, etc. are various body parts (i.e. stomach). There's a lot more to the terms that are used, but not a lot of people are in the know. Listen to the words and THINK. It's a dirty, dirty song. Now that you know some of these hints, sing the song again. :o) Sotto voce.

http://www.lyricsjunkie.com/B-52s+lyrics/Love+Shack.html (link to lyrics)
Nia - Washington Dc, Dc
One of the most infectious, irresistable and inviting dance songs ever. No previous dance experience needed, all who apply accepted.Craig - Madison, Wi
Mickey Mouse wouldn't dance to it??? bet Mickey Mouse wouldn't dance to a lot of songs ....Pete - Nowra, Australia
Recent news item (sometime between February and April 2005): the Love Shack was where Kate Pierson once lived. It was in the news because it burned down.

There's a very good 80s covers band here in Las Vegas called Loveshack. They currently play at Santa Fe Station.
Pat - Las Vegas, Nv
In the video, the saxophonist is 'Bones' Malone, a member of the Blues Brothers band.Roy - London, England
Despite its relatively low chart position, the follow-up to Love Shack (called 'Roam') got a lot of airplay in the UK, and the video was a great favourite of the music channel VH1. The B-52s also went Top 10 in the UK with "(Meet) The Flintstones" in 1994, a reworking of the theme tune to the 1960s cartoon series by Hanna & Barbera, which was adapted into live action film as part of the 'Dino-mania' craze on the back of the success of Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park in 1993, the set of which was also where the video for "(Meet) The Flinstones" was filmed. As a joke, the B-52s released "(Meet) The Filnstones" under the alias of the 'BC-52s'.Dave - Cardiff, Wales
This a possibly the best party song, and a great one for karaoke! Great for 'hamming it up'.Kate - Sydney, Australia
b52's also performed the title track for the flintstone movie...
and kate pierson performed backing vocals on the iggy pop song "candy"
Marlow - Perth, Australia
There are a handful of adult novelty stores in the metro-Atlanta area respectively called "The Love Shack."Patrick - Conyers, Ga
B52's had a lot of success here in Australia, Planet Clair, Rock Lobster,Private Idaho, Roam, Love Shack all went well.Pete - Nowra, Australia
The B52s had first hit the UK top 40 as early as 1979, when "Rock Lobster" made no. 37. Despite this, their only other top 40 hit prior to "Love Shack", was when Rock Lobster was re-released in 1986, when it did rather better making no.12. Love Shack is their most well known song though, a song always popular in a party atmosphere. It spent 3 weeks at no.2(UK), and it looked like we'd be hearing quite a bit more from the B52s. It was not to be, however, the follow up "Roam" didn't do anything like as well, making no.17, and after that the only hit of any size they had was "Good Stuff", fairly similar in theme to "Love Shack", which made no.21 in June 1992, although Kate Pierson from the band sang on REM's hit of the 1990s "Shiny Happy People".Paulus - Tasmania, Australia
Cindy's "tin roof, rusted" line has commenly been inturpreted as a southern euphimism for being pregnant, but she claims it means nothing. Fred simply looked at her, during the recording and suddenly sang "you're WHAT?", and she replied the said line.Kris - Toronto, Canada
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