Had the unexpected serendipity of seeing endlessly wry Noah Britton, one third of the toilet-touring Best Thing Ever, perform this tune in a Fort Greene apartment on Saturday night, before a last-minute set by Jeffrey Lewis. During this song’s introduction, one spectator noted this was “probably the only Martin Luther King Jr. Day carol ever.” Unsurprisingly, “Got MLK” is not: never mind the odes sung to the tune of B-I-N-G-O, there’re two U2 tributes from The Unforgettable Fire (one of which was covered by Joan Baez), one kiddie-schmaltz homage from a lady named Mary Miché, one Dion reworking of “Abraham, Martin and John” from Ray Charles, and on and on. So the following song is definitely not the first MLK eulogy put to music, but it’s gotta to be the first to begin with an expletive.
Have you ever really thought about
Dr. Martin Luther King?
Britton has heretofore remained virtually undetected on the rest of the bloggeradar, likely because he plopped down in New York in late 2007, has only played a handful of local shows, and maintains a rather confusing MySpace profile. His songs fit squarely in the anti-folk terrain of sparse melodies assembled as excuses for minor monologues, but he’s also got this baritone ribbit of a voice that inevitably recalls Stephin Merritt—an unavoidable reference considering that Britton’s also very fond of understated punchlines.
[Martin Luther King, Jr.] got shot
But he won
Cuz now I go to school
Britton’s written and performed under more monikers than a casual observer can possibly keep straight: aforementioned The Best Thing Ever, Hip Hip Hooray, Hubcap Pretty, Bike Punx, A Pretty Sunset. This song’s falls under the iTunes tag of A Pretty Sunset, but it’s distinctly Noah Britton—a kid who tours toilets with his friends.
A Pretty Sunset, “Got MLK?” (MP3)