When Michael Shannon was 15 years old, he was in a band called Jehovah’s Suspects and he wrote a song about armadillos. Nothing about that sentence surprises me.
Of course 15-year-old Michael Shannon’s band would be named the Jehovah’s Suspects, and of course he would pen a musical ode to the armadillo, nature’s most ugly-cute mammal. The band mostly played Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix covers in front of “10, 15 teenagers with Dixie cups filled with some incorrect amount of alcohol, soda pop,” he said on Thursday’s episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers.
But one fateful day, Shannon debuted an original composition to the group:
I wake up, and it’s a sunny day
I shake my head, and I crawl away
My stomach growls, I have not been fed
And visions of cactus pears prick the insides of my head
And the Earth stands still as I punch through the heat
The white-hot sand, it burns the bottoms of my feet
I’m an armadillo with a hard shell
I look scared and ugly and I got a strange smell, yeah
“I imagined an armadillo in the desert struggling to survive, which is how I very much felt as my 15-year-old self,” Shannon explained about why he wrote a song about a smelly armadillo. “I could identify with that.” He also admitted that he had “never seen an armadillo when I wrote that song,” so it wouldn’t be until years later that he would learn armadillos have “tons of hair.” Like all great musicians, Shannon used creative license to get his message across: armadillo are hungry and ugly. Who can’t relate?
You can listen to the entire performance above.