Tunesday: The Offspring – “Tehran”

It’s Tuesday so that means at ilisteniwatch.com, it’s Tunesday! Every Tuesday, we will share a song with you that we love and hope you will too. Today, Jeremy picks The Offspring.

Quick. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of The Offspring? Was it this? I hope so. I wanted you to think about that song because my Tunesday pick is an Offspring song. One of the reasons I like it is because of how little it resembles their late-90s/early-00s radio-friendly pop-punk output. What is the song, and why do I like it? Get ready for a bullet list.

  • It is the seventh song on The Offspring’s debut, self-titled album.
  • The song is “Tehran.”
  • Yep, “Tehran” as in the capital of Iran.
  • The song is about America’s involvement in the Iran-Iraq War.
  • The music in this punk song evokes the sounds of Middle Eastern music, and the marriage of Eastern and Western music in a song about the West getting involved in a Middle Eastern war results in a spooky and foreboding sound.
  • It was released in 1989.
  • I probably first heard it in 1994 or 1995.
  • I didn’t know much of anything about the Iran-Iraq war when I was twelve.
  • It’s not weird for a punk band to write an anti-war song, but it is weird to hear one from the same band that also wrote about a guy being pretty fly for a white guy.
  • The song is three minutes and seven seconds long.
  • It goes one minute and seven seconds before any words are sung.
  • Anti-pop.
  • In my senior year of college, I wrote a research paper on Shi’ite Islam and its relationship with justice and peace that included a lengthy section on the Iran-Iraq War.
  • I didn’t learn until writing this piece that The Offspring re-recorded the song as “Baghdad” on a small-release EP in 1991.
  • They did not re-re-record it as “Baghdad (Again)” in 2003, but the 1991 version was included on a 2004 political punk compilation.
  • I didn’t learn until writing my paper in college that the Iran-Iraq War, which began as a territorial dispute, was started by Iraq because Iran’s religion forbade them from attacking first.
  • I also didn’t learn until then that several countries, not just the U.S., at some point provided aid of some kind to both sides of the conflict.
  • This is a song about war in Iran, but ultimately it’s a song about any war, so kudos, Dexter Holland, for good writing and for listening to E.B. White.
  • My favorite line, in all of its awful, perfect glory: “Will you even wonder if the man that’s in your sights ever kissed his girl goodbye?”
  • The song has been giving me chills for nearly twenty years.
  • When you woke up this morning, the odds you would have given that you’d hear somebody say that about a song by The Offspring were probably somewhere between zero and no way José.

Read more from Jeremy here and on Twitter: @jereminate.