Conan O’Brien’s “Polk Salad Annie” is bullshit! Umm…that’s not us, that’s from the man himself. Never mind that original songwriter Tony Joe White got the name wrong — it’s actually poke salet, as in pokeweed and the 14th century English spelling of salad. But who cares; Southerners sure don’t. Nevertheless, Conan’s live version actually rocks (with tongue firmly in cheek).
Recorded this summer, the cut from Conan’s upcoming album (I can’t tell you how strange that was to write — did Carson or Letterman ever release an album?) features the returning latenight talk show host fronting Jack White’s band at his Third Man studio in Nashville in a frenetic version of the classic rocker that Elvis famously covered in the ’70s.
Conan excitedly introduces the song with a background about his parents’ struggles in Brookline, MA, an upscale suburb of Boston. His frenetic intro tells of a mother who was a mere tax attorney making only six figures, and a poor father who was a microbiologist for the World Health Organization, his mother parking her Ford LTD by the side of the road to pick pokeweed while alligators snapped away.
Midway through the song Conan admits, “By now you’ve figured out this song is bullshit … it has noting to do with my life at all. We didn’t have alligators in Brookline!”
What else would you expect?
Conan also does a nearly over-the-top version of the Eddie Cochran rockabilly classic “Twenty Flight Rock.” Recorded before a select crowd of 300 fans, Conan does surprisingly well with the songs.
Hear both songs at Rolling Stone’s Hear It Now page.
Also, enjoy this video from the same performance, courtesy of 365Out.