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Music

The real ‘Love Shack’ that inspired The B-52s classic hit

‘If it happens anywhere, it matters not’ – it’s a mantra that many of the best storytellers have clung to since time immemorial. The notion of narrative, even in music, is deeply entwined with location… most of the time. The same tale of star-crossed lovers in Peterborough, UK just takes on a different tone altogether if it is transposed to Paris, France.

However, and I must stress this, this is only the case most of the time. There are some songs so manic and irreverent that you can only think that they are borne straight from a warped mind and far too absurd for reality. You’d imagine that would be the case with the B-52s classic hit ‘Love Shack’. Somehow, it isn’t. 

Say what you like about the track but beneath any condemning lies, ‘Love Shack’ is surely a song that you simply cannot begrudge. You can try. You can call it an annoying novelty, but its lure is harder to resist than the last cookie in the pack. To put it simply, it’s a whole lot of fun, and the key to that carefree frisson is the fabled place that they are singing of: the mystic Love Shack. 

Where is this numinous edifice to liberation? Well, sadly, it’s burnt down, but it was in Athens, Georgia. The shack was as real as any, and it genuinely had a tin roof to boot. It belonged to band member Kate Pierson, and it was within this fated cabin that the band crafted their second biggest hit an inexplicable 11 years earlier, ‘Rock Lobster’. 

Located just off the Atlanta Highway this secretive hideout was home to Pierson and host to some wild parties before the devil reclaimed the libertine domicile in 2004.  Prior to it perishing in flames, there wasn’t much opulence to start with. The shack had no plumbing or running water, so. You had to use a festering outhouse in a field. 

That might uphold the shack side of things, but it doesn’t lend itself to love all that easily. So, how did that term of endearment enter the mix? Well, it is here where the band would jam and free from distractions the fun would unfurl in a swirl of creative flow. You’d rather write about rusted roofs and ramshackle charm than aircon and EQ lights anyway. 

As Cindy Wilson said of how the fateful lyric came to her while they were jamming: “All of a sudden we’re singing to the tape and it ran out. I just kept going because I was so into it and said ‘tin roof, rusted’ and they thought it was funny and a good way to end it.” With that, everything had fallen into place for an irreverent 1980s classic to spread some cheer—all from the discomforts of home.   

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