Released : 1992
Genre : Pop rock
Length : 5:02
Label : Virgin Records
Producer : Gus Dudgeon
The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead is a single by XTC from their 1992 album Nonsuch. It was the band's second #1 hit on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song was covered and released as a single by Crash Test Dummies in 1995 for the soundtrack to the film Dumb and Dumber. Crash Test Dummies' version is notable in the fact that it was their first of two singles to feature Ellen Reid on lead vocals. 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.
1. The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead (LP Version)
2. The Smartest Monkey (LP Version)
3. My Bird Performs (Home Demo)
4. Always Winter Never Christmas (Home Demo)