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Sep 09

The Numerous Problems with 99 Bottles of Beer

I am not sure who the genius was who came up with the song “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” but that person has managed to not only make a song about beer that children enjoy but to also usurp all other beer-drinking songs in the United States of America. Many other countries have countless songs dedicated to drinking yet we in America seem stuck on this one. Seriously – someone tell me some drinking songs that the average American knows? I can come up with “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and “Margaritvaille” by Jimmy Buffett.

In the movie Beerfest, there was a scene early on where groups of drunken sterotypes sang drinking songs of their home countries. The joke to the scene here is that our two sap Americans could only come up with “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”. What American drinking song would you have come up with in the same situation? What non-American drinking song would you have come up with? We don’t even sing British or Irish drinking songs here. The drinking song is a completely dead genre in America.

And as for our lone drinking song (I’m assuming it’s American because it’s far too retarded for other countries with real drinking songs to want to claim), I have some serious, serious issues with it.

For reference, the repetitious song goes like so:

99 bottles of beer on the wall,
99 bottles of beer.
Take one down
Pass it around,
98 bottles of beer on the wall.

Ostensibly, this song is sung until there are no beers left on the wall (i.e. “No more bottles of beer on the wall, no more bottles of beer. Go to the store and buy some more, 99 bottles of beer on the wall.”). No one knows this last verse. Someone on the Internet made it up and I just found it and posted it here.

So why do we pass the beers around instead of drinking them? And what happens to the last guy who has no one to whom he can pass it to? Does he drink it, or does he pass it around back to the first guy? And if you pass that beer around constantly, at some point there will be 99 beers being passed around. To what end? Why the constant passing?

Now, let’s assume that passing around means “take a sip then pass it to the next guy”. Hygienic issues aside, who wants a sipped beer? Pass me a full beer, and I’ll drink it. And what happens if someone passes you a beer and you aren’t ready for it yet. You know, you have to go to the restroom or you’re eating a chip. Do you then pass it on to the next guy or hold on to the beer until you’ve swalloed your chip? And what of the guy at the end? If people don’t take their appropriately sized sip, he could end with a disproportionate amount of beer. WIN, for sure, but doesn’t that seem to somehow violate the sanctity of the activity the song is promoting?

Oh yes, there are cliques in life as well as in beer drinking circles. Some people will have a beer passed around to them more often than others will. Is this fair? Should it be fair? What if you are always at the end. You get the warmest of the beer, not the beer taken down from the wall. That’s assuming, of course, that the wall is refrigerated.

Most people don’t like room temperature beer and there is a good reason for it: Most beer sucks at room temperature. So good luck trying to pass around 99 Budweisers at room temperature. The song will end shortly after it began – unless you go to some stouts or other premium beers. Do you know how much 99 bottles of stout cost? Not to mention: do you appreciate the difficulty in gathering a sizable enough group of beer-passer-arounders who can either appreciate or tolerate a warm stout?

Nay, I’ve always had a problem with this song and you won’t get me to comply with it, at least in it’s current abbreviated form. Rather, I would prefer the song go something along the lines of:

99 bottles of generally tasty lager chilling at 40 degrees on a shelf,


99 bottles of generally tasty lager chilling at 40 degrees on a shelf,

Take one down and pass it to the person closest to your immediate left on the first pass and to the second closest person to your immediate left on the next pass and then to the third closest person on your fourth pass, etc, assuring that all members of the song have both an opportunity to enjoy the coolest beer and the warmest beer being passed and once the last member of the chorus has received his first coolest beer then the next beer will then be passed back to the person who received the first coolest beer (i.e., the person closest to the immediate left of the beer puller (assuming that the assembled choir has not changed position at which point you need to now create a map or lineup of who received which beer in which order and that lineup is then to be followed through to completion of the rondo)),

Take a sip that is in correct proportion to the number of participants and pass it to the next person unless that person is no longer ready at which point you politely wait for them to return unless such a circumstance happens that they will likely not return at which point you pass it to the next closest person to your immediate left who then takes his or her correctly proportionate sip and then passes it to the person to his or her immediate left, etc. noting that in each round each member of the chorus could move to a different location at which point the singing members are to refer to the lineup sheet created by the beer puller to address the shifting lineup situation and finally let’s not forget that the last person who takes the final swig places the bottle into a recycling bin for proper disposal.

98 bottles of generally tasty lager chilling at 40 degrees on a shelf, etc. etc.

1 comment

  1. FlavaDave

    This excellent post has inspired me to invent a new organization in my head. I’m calling it APADS. The Association for the Popularization of American Drinking Songs. I’m the Prez. There’s a space on the board for you if you want it.

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