Disc 1 Track 10
If I’ve edged into sounding awfully down about the back half of The Bottle Rockets, songs like “Bud Nannery Theme” are a big part of why. A perfectly fine country instrumental, Nannery is inoffensive but inessential. The band chugs along just fine, Henneman plays some decent guitar, and it sounds like it was probably a lot of fun to play in the studio. But it doesn’t add anything to the album, really, except a couple of minutes of running time.
There’s also the question of the name. Who is Bud Nannery? Is he a person, or a nickname for a banana? Why does he get a theme? Bands doing arbitrary theme songs for people or entities who may or may not exist are kind of a tradition, one that can be kind of dire (like the Pixies’ “Tony’s Theme”) to the sublime (R.E.M.’s drunken theme for their favorite barbecue joint, “Walter’s Theme.”). Bluegrass has its own traditions, with Flatt and Scruggs creating a beloved favorite as a theme for a sponsoring flour company.
The Bottle Rockets’ entry into the possibly-faux theme sweepstakes is neither as dire as the Pixies’ or as perfect as R.E.M.’s. It just sits there reminding you that these guys can play, even if they don’t always have something to say.