BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – If you’re a fan of “The Addams Family” spinoff “Wednesday,” you’re probably familiar with one particular catchy tune. But did you know it has a Bakersfield connection?
The song is called “Goo Goo Muck“ and since it was included in the show’s Nov. 23 episode in a dance segment featuring the title character, it has taken off.
In the week after it aired on “Wednesday,” the Netflix horror-comedy program – a reboot of the 1960s black-and-white sitcom – the song was streamed on-demand 2 million times.
Now it’s even a hit on Tik Tok, where users are posting their own “Goo Goo Muck” dance moves.
The version of the song from the show is the one recorded in 1981 by the psychobilly punk band The Cramps, but it was written and recorded in 1962 by a Bakersfield band, The Gaylads, featuring Ronnie Cook, infamous proprietor of the once-infamous private club, Fort Cook.
Cook, now deceased, served prison time for strangling his girlfriend, but long before that sordid affair, he was a fledgling rock-and-roller.
Here’s where the story gets interesting. The man who held publishing rights, former Bakersfield police officer David Bell, gifted his part ownership of the song – as an informal sort of loan repayment – to his friend Jim Shaw, Buck Owens’ right-hand-man and longtime Buckaroo keyboardist.
Shaw, who serves as financial caretaker of Buck’s vast country music catalog of hits, took on that much less time consuming role for “Goo Goo Muck.” That meant mailing a share of the small but regular royalty payments to the families of the song’s now deceased writers, Ronnie Cook and Ed James. But then …
“Last year I got approached by Netflix on a licensing deal,” Shaw said. “They wanted to use the song in one of their series. I didn’t know anything about ‘Wednesday.’ It was a brand new deal. So I made a standard licensing deal with them and didn’t think that much more about it.
Then the Nov. 23 episode aired and things went crazy. Someone is about to be paid; how much exactly won’t be known for many months. Problem is, Shaw doesn’t know who to pay anymore. For a couple of years now, those letters have been returned by the post office. Shaw can’t find their next-of-kin, so he’s been putting the money in an escrow account, hoping to find a relative to give the money to before it’s forfeited to the state. Suddenly those meager checks might start amounting to something.
“Maybe the heirs of the writers will say, ‘Oh, hey, look, there’s my dad’s song, there’s my grandpa’s song,’ and come forward so they can get paid on this.”
Ever since Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 classic “Pulp Fiction” made obscure 1960s rock ‘n roll cool again, this kind of windfall has been a possibility. Now it has happened to “Goo Goo Muck” — a silly horror ditty along the lines of the Gary S. Paxton-penned “Monster Mash.” But the identity of potential benefactors is a mystery.
Could “Goo Goo Muck” become a Halloween staple in the same way “Monster Mash” is – which, by the way, also has a Bakersfield connection? We’ll just have to wait and see this next October.