Mojo Nixon has left us. He has shed his mortal coil and slipped away to become one with the Parliament of Weird Uncles. Somewhere, Don Henley is having a good laugh.
Now a lot of obituaries have appeared for this one-of-a-kind, 100% all-American weirdo, a true neurodivergent king, if ever there was one. If you want the basic facts of the Mojo story, you can go look those up, because that’s not what you’re going to get here. No, sir, this is a different kind of tribute to Mojo, and one I hope that crazy son of a bitch would’ve appreciated.
You may be asking, “Mark, what is this Parliament of Weird Uncles you’re talking about? I’ve never heard of it.” And I’d say, “Of course you haven’t heard of it, because we’ve been operating in secret, hidden amongst you, for all of human history.” I’m going to let you in on a secret: you don’t have to be a man to be a Weird Uncle. Hell, you don’t even have to have nieces or nephews. For, you see, one does not become a Weird Uncle, rather, one must be born a Weird Uncle.
Watch the official music video for “Elvis Is Everywhere” by Mojo Nixon on YouTube:
Mojo Nixon was definitely a Weird Uncle, and now he’s hanging out with Uncle Harlan, Uncle Andy, all those guys. He was profane, absurd, sometimes juvenile, often political, and he rocked hard. Sadly, I never got to see him do it, because he retired from music in 2004 and reinvented himself as a talk radio host in, of all places, Cincinnati. (At least they have good chili.) He still made special apparances, like the Outlaw Country Cruise — where he played the final show of his life then passed in his sleep.
Since he passed not long ago, all kinds of people have been remembering Mojo and telling stories. Many of them are quite colorful, and they reinforce the notion that he truly was a singular figure. A man who sang about impregnating teen sensation Debbie Gibson with his two-headed lovechild, who demanded the head of David Geffen, and who also appeared on CNN to debate Pat Buchanan on the subject of requiring albums to carry warning labels. He was genuinely off the rails, but he was also much loved by his peers in the music business, from David Lowery of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker to Steve Poltz, who helped early in his career, and even Robbie Fulks, who at one time had been on Mojo’s bad side. (A place you definitely didn’t want to be!) I once heard Hayes Carll tell a story about how Mojo just made up, one day on his talk show, some nonsense about how Hayes been admitted to a mental institution. Only Mojo!
As a Weird Uncle, I felt Mojo Nixon on a deep level. I have a story I’m trying to sell called “The Neverending Pimple” I’m trying to sell, and I feel like Mojo would’ve found it hilarious. I’m a truly strange guy — I’m so far left, I’m not even on the dial, I’m on a whole different band — and seeing someone out there loud and proud at being a total weirdo, it helped me become a little more confident in and okay with myself. I wish I could’ve met the man and thanked him, but I’m not sure the world is ready for the level of insanity and chaos that would have ensued had Mojo and I ever met outside of a highly controlled, possibly padded and child-proofed setting.
I’ll see you on the other side, Mojo.