Top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers Songs

Squirrel Nut Zippers Songs

Our top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers songs list looks at the catalog of an American band best known for its impact in the ‘90s contemporary swing revival. Squirrel Nut Zippers was formed in 1993 by vocalists Jimbo Mathus and Katharine Whalen. Sprouting from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Squirrel Nut Zippers remains one of the few successful East Coast bands that impacted the neo-swing revival.

Of course, the revival of swing music had been spearheaded by a number of bands from the West Coast. Some of these bands included Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Revue, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Squirrel Nut Zippers went ahead to achieve mainstream and commercial success. The band boasts seven studio albums—five of the albums made it to the Billboard 200 Chart.

A Quick Review of Squirrel Nut Zippers’ Albums

In 1995, Squirrel Nut Zippers issued their debut studio album The Inevitable. The album was issued through Mammoth Records. Other artists (once) affiliated with Mammoth Records include Juliana Hatfield, Seven Mary Three, Chainsaw Kittens, and The Melvins. Squirrel Nut Zippers worked with Brian Paulson in the production of their 1995 debut album The Inevitable.

Brian Paulson has also worked with multiple artists including Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Superchunk, and Something for Kate. The Inevitable saw the band take on a blend of swing music and jazz influences. “Plenty More,” “Anything but Love,” “Wished for You,” and “Lover’s Lane” are some of the best Squirrel Nut Zippers songs from The Inevitable. Other songs that featured on the album included covers of the songs “I’ve Found a New Baby” and “You’re Driving Me Crazy.”

Squirrel Nut Zippers returned with their sophomore record Hot in 1996. The album was issued through Mammoth Records with the band retaining the services of Brian Paulson in the production duties. Joining Brian Paulson in production was Mike Napolitano—record producer Mike was married to Annie DiFranco in 2007.

Squirrel Nut Zippers saw the album earn both commercial and mainstream success in the US. The album made it to position twenty-seven on the Billboard 200 Chart. Hot was also platinum-certified in the US. “Hell,” “Put A Lid on It,” “Blue Angel,” “Prince Nez,” “Bad Businessman,” and Meant to Be” are some of the best Squirrel Nut Zippers songs from the album Hot.

Perennial Favorites, issued in 1998, marked the band’s third studio album. The album was once again issued through Mammoth Records. Squirrel Nut Zippers went ahead to co-produce the album in conjunction with record producer Mike Napolitano. Other artists who have worked with record producer Mike Napolitano include Stanton Moore, Ani DiFranco, Royal Crown Revue, and The Twilight Singers among others.

Perennial Favorites was a mainstream success in the US climbing to the eighteenth spot on the Billboard 200 Chart. The album was also a commercial success earning gold certification in the US. Perennial Favorites went ahead to feature several musical gems including “Suits Are Picking Up the Bill,” “Pallin’ with AI,” “My Drag” “The Kraken,” and “Ghost of Stephen Foster.”

Still, in 1998, Squirrel Nut Zippers issued their fourth studio album Christmas Caravan. The album saw Squirrel Nut Zippers blend swing music, jazz, and Christmas music influences. Similar efforts were seen with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy with the release of their 2004 album Everything You Want for Christmas and 2013 album It Feels Like Christmas.

Christmas Caravan was also issued through Mammoth Records under the production of Mike Napolitano and Squirrel Nut Zippers’ band members. The album was fairly successful in the mainstream peaking at position one hundred and seventeen on the Billboard 200. Christmas Caravan is home to musical gems such as “Sleigh Ride,” “Carolina Christmas,” “My Evergreen,” and A Johnny Ace Christmas.

In 2000, Squirrel Nut Zippers issued their fifth studio album Bedlam Ballroom. The album was issued through Mammoth Records. Squirrel Nut Zippers members co-produced this record alongside record producers Mike Napolitano and John Plymale. Other musicians who have (once) worked with producer John Plymale include Meat Puppets, Kim Richey, The Connells, and Superchunk among others.

Bedlam Ballroom marked the band’s final album to grace the Billboard 200 Chart. The album made it to position one hundred and ninety-five on the Billboard 200. “Bedbugs,” “Hush,” “Stop Drop and Roll,” and “Do What?” are some of the best Squirrel Nut Zippers songs from the album Bedlam Ballroom.

Squirrel Nut Zippers went on a hiatus after issuing Bedlam Ballroom only to return in 2006. The band was on and off after its reunion with its no new material released for quite some while. Eighteen years after the release of Bedlam Ballroom, Squirrel Nut Zippers issued their sixth studio album Beasts of Burgundy. The album is home to some of the best Squirrel Nut Zippers songs including “West of Zanzibar” and “Beasts of Burgundy.”

Beasts of Burgundy was followed up by the band’s seventh studio album Lost Songs of Doc Souchon. Doc Souchon is a New Orleans music star known for his impressive jazz guitar and songwriting skills. Lost Songs of Doc Souchon featured tracks such as “Animule Ball” and “Train on Fire.”

Squirrel Nut Zippers’ Accolades and Legacy

Squirrel Nut Zippers is among the bands that played a significant role in the neo-swing revival scene. Of course, this was among the mystifying hallmark of the ‘90s mainstream, an era when alternative rock/grunge flourished, putting an end to many local scenes. Squirrel Nut Zippers is a darling for lovers of the blend of jazz and swing music. Here we take a look at the top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers songs of all time.

#10- Anything but Love

Introducing us to the top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers songs list is the dazzling hit “Anything but Love.” The song is featured on the band’s debut studio album The Inevitable. “Anything but Love” is an infectious pick that showcases the band’s ability to deliver atmospheric jazz-swing blended songs. The song finds the band exploring the difficulties of romantic relationships presenting love as a troublesome feeling. “Anything but Love” was featured in one of the episodes of the teen drama TV series The O.C.

#9- My Drag

“My Drag” is by far one of the most successful tracks of all time by the band. The song is featured on Squirrel Nut Zippers’ third studio album Perennial Favorites. “My Drag” is a masterpiece whose instrumentation feels a tad bit nostalgic. The song is catapulted to greatness by its powerful and infectious instrumentation. “My Drag” is among Squirrel Nut Zippers’ songs that perfectly capture Squirrel Nut Zippers’ swing influences as inspired by artists such as Cab Calloway.

#8- Bedbugs

Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers songs list is the charming hit “Bedbugs.” The song was issued as the album-opening track of Squirrel Nut Zippers’ five studio album Bedlam Ballroom. “Bedbugs” perfectly captures Squirrel Nut Zippers’ signature mix of swing music and jazz influences.

The song screams for attention thanks to its infectious rhythm and catchy melody. As the title suggests, “Bedbug” alludes to a story about the annoyance of dealing with these pests. You ought to love the fascinating vocal delivery in this track—Jimbo Mathus takes the lead vocals in this track

#7- St. Louis Cemetery Blues

Sold Out is by far one of the most underrated Squirrel Nut Zippers records of the mid- ’90s. The extended play was quite successful in the mainstream rising to position one hundred and sixty-five on the Billboard 200. Sold Out’s opening track “St. Louis Cemetery Blues” is quite a delightful pick that has proven worth listing in our top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers songs list.

The song has one of the most cohesive sounds—trumpet sounds from the song complement the song’s clarinet, bass, and drums yielding a catchy rhythm. Unfortunately, the song didn’t feature in any other record by Squirrel Nut Zippers.

#6- Blue Angel

Coming in at number six on our top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers songs list is the amazing hit “Blue Angel.” The song is featured on the band’s most successful sophomore studio album Hot. “Blue Angel” was penned by vocalist Mathus in conjunction with guitarist/saxophonist Ken Mosher.

The song remains one of the band’s most sought-after tracks thanks to the dreamy vocal delivery by Kathrine Whalen. “Blue Angel” went ahead to be featured in the 1997 film Dream with the Fishes. Other artists whose songs were featured in this film include The Waterboys, Jeremy Toback, Leroy & the Drivers, and Nick Drake.

#5- Plenty More

We return to the band’s debut studio album, The Inevitable, home to our fifth pick “Plenty More.” Like most of the songs featured on this list, “Plenty More” delivers a compelling jazz-swing experience. The precise instrumentation and arrangement add charm to the band’s compelling delivery of this track. “Plenty More” finds the band members giving us a piece of their thoughts about losing the one you care about.

The band’s perspective is that when you lose the one you love, you ought to let go since there’s “Plenty More” who might complement you. Through such lyrics, “Plenty More” encourages the band’s fans to embrace and persevere problems in the world, trying to look at the bigger and positive part of the picture!

#4- Suits Are Picking Up the Bill

“Suits Are Picking Up the Bill” is one of the concert favorite tracks by Squirrel Nut Zippers. The song was issued as the album-opening track to Squirrel Nut Zippers’ third studio album Perennial Favorites. With “Suits Are Picking Up the Bill,” we find the singer painting imagery of an opulent lifestyle as the persona enjoys the successful reaps. This infectious track is featured on the twelfth spot on the band’s 2002 compilation album The Best of Squirrel Nut Zippers as Chronicled by Shorty Brown.

#3- Put A Lid on It

Ranking third on our top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers songs list is the hit “Put A Lid on It.” The song is featured on the band’s most successful album Hot. “Put A Lid on It” is among the few songs by Squirrel Nut Zippers where we get to explore the vocal dexterity of both Katharine Whalen and Jimbo Mathus. The song is among the releases by Squirrel Nut Zippers that made it to several alternative radio stations.

“Put A Lid on It” features a music video directed by Norwood Cheek. Other artists who have worked with Norwood Cheek include She & Him, Superchunk, and The Connells. The song “Put A Lid on It” is among the songs that made it to the soundtrack of the 1997 romantic black comedy A Life Less Ordinary. Other artists whose songs made it to the soundtrack album of this 1997 film include Beck, Sneaker Pimps, and Luscious Jackson.

#2- Ghost of Stephen Foster

“Ghost of Stephen Foster” is by far one of the most impressive songs by Squirrel Nut Zippers of all time. This concert favorite is featured on the band’s album Perennial Favorites. “Ghost of Stephen Foster” references American composer Stephen Foster who is often dubbed by many the “father of American music.” Back in the nineteenth century, Stephen Foster penned over two hundred songs, most of which have been covered by multiple artists.

“Ghost of Stephen Foster” featured a music video co-directed by Raymond S. Persi and Matthew Nastuk. The music video to the song “Ghost of Stephen Foster” went ahead to win the 1999 Vancouver Animation Festival Best Animated Music Video accolade.

#1- Hell

Coming in at number one on our top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers songs list is the impressive hit “Hell.” The song is featured on the band’s sophomore studio album, Hot. “Hell” is an energetic pick emblematic of Squirrel Nut Zippers’ ability to deliver spirited performances. The song features an infectious and catchy melody— “Hell” also features impressive vocal delivery by vocalist Jimbo Mathus.

The song is the only hit by Squirrel Nut Zippers to have climbed into the mainstream charts. “Hell” made it to the thirteenth spot on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart. The song also made it to position seventy-two on the Billboard Radio Songs Chart.

Feature Photo: Roberta, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Squirrel Nut Zippers Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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