The Day Pandora Gave Me a Bean Burrito
You have probably never heard “Bean Burrito,” guitarist Hiram Bullock’s nasal, six-minute long smooth jazz tribute to, well, a bean burrito, because it was only ever released in Japan, where the sheer annoyance of this ditty might have been lost in translation. (While not a Japanese national, Bullock was an army brat born in Osaka, which might have something to do with it). This song probably would never have shown up on my radar if Pandora Radio hadn’t erroneously slipped it into my friend Suzy’s Sarah McLachlan-themed station. “Bean Burrito” is proof that using algorithms to predict musical preferences is a highly dubious venture.
The fact that this song has probably never received any airplay in the U.S. shouldn’t stop you from looking it up on YouTube. It rivals Komar & Melamid’s “Most Unwanted Song” (a 20 minute-plus opus that includes operatic rapping paired with tuba) as the sort of grating earworm that is so irritating that it’s kind of irresistible.
I’ve forced most of my loved ones to listen to it on multiple occasions (frequently against their will), and it even became an office favorite at the PR firm where my best friend works. It’s unclear whether the track was intended as a novelty song — it’s sort of funny, but also kind of pathetic, like Insane Clown Posse’s “Miracles.” “Bean Burrito” probably wouldn’t get played on Dr. Demento — it’s too lengthy, not manic enough.
It’s not that Hiram Bullock is a terrible musician. He’s been non-ironically compared to Jimi Hendrix, worked as a session guitarist for Paul Simon and Steely Dan, and was a member of Paul Shaffer’s CBS Orchestra on the David Letterman show (though he had “attendance issues,” allegedly due to a crack addiction). It’s just that, when left to his own devices, he comes up with lyrics about eating “European specialties like soufflé de tangerine” and barbecued hog maws — none of which, in the Bullock’s opinion, compares to the transcendental “bean burrito, with black beans and rice.” And he warns listeners: “Don’t talk to me ‘bout tacos/really no need to discuss nachos.”
The song opens with a smooth bossa nova riff before launching into this long winded, whiny contemplation of everything he’s ever eaten, and why no food on earth can rival a bean burrito, performed in a nasal growl by a man who has the appearance of an obese, aging Lil’ Wayne in a tied dyed tee shirt with fewer tattoos. Sitting through all six minutes is akin to listening to stoned friend suffering from a serious case of the munchies whine about how they’d go to Taco Bell if they weren’t just so goddamn high.
Hiram Bullock’s illustrious career was cut tragically short two years ago when he passed away at the age of 52 due to cancer and substance abuse issues. Hopefully, he is gorging himself on bean burritos — with black beans and rice — all day long in the afterlife.