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"The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" is a single by XTC from their 1992 album Nonsuch. The song was covered and released as a single by Crash Test Dummies in 1995 for the soundtrack to the film Dumb and Dumber. The Crash Test Dummies version differs slightly to the XTC version, omitting the second verse.

The song follows the story of Peter Pumpkinhead, a man who comes to an unspecified town, "spreading wisdom and cash around". He is extremely popular with the people of the town, but extremely unpopular with government figures. In the end, Peter Pumpkinhead is killed by those he made enemies of, "nailed to a chunk of wood" (probably a reference to being crucified, like Jesus, possibly even comparing the two men).

Many believe "Peter Pumpkinhead" is a pseudonym for and refers to one of various historic figures such as John F. Kennedy, Jesus Christ or John Lennon. However, the writer of the song, Andy Partridge, stated that he was not referring to any one being, but to such characters and their lives as a whole; namely that their mission to do good resulted in their death brought about by "government" figures.

The name Peter Pumpkinhead in fact came about by Partridge having carved out a Halloween pumpkin and, following the October festival, sticking it on one of the fence posts in his garden. Partridge walked past the pumpkin each day on the way to his composing shed and, feeling sorry for the increasingly decaying fruit head, decided to write a song about him.

The demo appeared on the limited edition French Gribouillage EP.

The home demo appeared on the 2002 Coat of Many Cupboards box set.

Single tracklistingEdit

USA CS singleEdit

  1. A-side: "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead"
  2. B-side: "The Smartest Monkeys" (Colin Moulding)

7" singleEdit

  1. A-side: "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead"
  2. B-side: "War Dance" (Moulding)

UK, Australia CD-5, Australia CS singleEdit

  1. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead (no intro)" 4:53
  2. "Wardance" 3:24
  3. "Down a Peg (demo)" 2:34 (Moulding)
  4. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead (demo)" 4:40

USA CD-5 promo singleEdit

  1. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead (short edit)" 3:32
  2. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" 5:00

USA CD-5 promo, paperboard sleeveEdit

  1. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead (long edit)" 4:34
  2. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead (short edit)" 3:32
  3. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" 5:00

UK CD-5, digipakEdit

  1. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead (no intro)"
  2. "Wardance"
  3. "My Bird Performs (demo)" (Moulding)
  4. "Always Winter Never Christmas (demo)"

USA CD-5 promo, stampedEdit

  1. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" 5:00
  2. "The Smartest Monkeys" 4:18
  3. "My Bird Performs (home demo)" 3:32
  4. "Always Winter Never Christmas (home demo)" 3:16

QuotesEdit

Andy: “He's every hero, every politician, every religious leader who's far too good to be true and by telling the truth becomes a martyr. Is Peter Pumpkinhead Jesus or JFK or Buddha? Actually the name's from a jack-o-lantern I carved. After Halloween, I stuck it on a fence post in my garden and every day I'd go past it on my way to my composing shed. And every day it would decay a bit more. I felt so sorry for it, I thought I'd make it a hero in a song.”

Andy (on the promo video): “This one's about a pumpkin I carved for my kids one Halloween. Started as a Dylan/harmonica sort-of song.” Dave: “I play a Gretsch Country Club that was a gift from a fan in New York.”

LyricsEdit

Peter Pumpkinhead came to town

Spreading wisdom and cash around

Fed the starving and housed the poor

Showed the vatican what gold's for


But he made too many enemies

Of the people who would keep us on our knees

Hooray for Peter Pumpkin

Who'll pray for Peter Pumpkinhead?


Oh my!


Peter Pumpkinhead pulled them all

Emptied churches and shopping malls

Where he spoke, it would raise the roof

Peter Pumpkinhead told the truth


But he made too many enemies

Of the people who would keep us on our knees

Hooray for Peter Pumpkin

Who'll pray for Peter Pumpkinhead?


Oh my!


Peter Pumpkinhead put to shame

Governments who would slur his name

Plots and sex scandals failed outright

Peter merely said

Any kind of love is alright


But he made too many enemies

Of the people who would keep us on our knees

Hooray for Peter Pumpkin

Who'll pray for Peter Pumpkinhead?


Oh my!


Peter Pumpkinhead was too good

Had him nailed to a chunk of wood

He died grinning on live TV

Hanging there he looked a lot like you

And an awful lot like me!


But he made too many enemies

Of the people who would keep us on our knees

Hooray for Peter Pumpkin

Who'll pray for Peter Pumpkinhead?

Hooray for Peter Pumpkin

Who'll pray for Peter Pumpkin

Hooray for Peter Pumpkinhead

Oh my oh my oh!

Doesn't it make you want to cry oh?

VideosEdit

There are two different versions of the XTC music video, both of which feature a scenario very similar to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, although one is heavily edited for US TV broadcast and removes much of the more controversial material. They also briefly feature an actress dressed like Marilyn Monroe during the 3rd verse. In addition, the uncensored video makes brief reference to Jesus Christ by flashing the words "three nails" and showing a crown of thorns. The lyrics "Peter Pumpkinhead was too good; Had him nailed to a chunk of wood" reinforce this crucifixion reference. It also cross references all three stories by strongly implying that the death of all three were caused by some sort of government conspiracy.

Promo (UK)Edit

UK promo video of "Peter Pumpkinhead." Uploaded by YouTube user "cowsill2x2."

ChartsEdit

Chart (1992) Peak
Position
Canadian Singles Chart 48
UK Singles Chart 71

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