Ball of Wax 39 Songs: Colin Ernst – Slim Skeleton

“Slim Skeleton” is the third song Colin Ernst has contributed to Ball of Wax in as many volumes. As with his previous contributions, Ernst steeps “Slim Skeleton” in a mix of absurd humor and Kurt Weill-esque cabaret music. The result is pretty distinct, evoking both Frank Zappa and music from the Muppet Show (though, really, what’s the difference between the two? That the Muppet band had the good taste not to write songs in 11/16? BURN!). Anyhoo, it’s an expressive, cartoonish piece that opens with Ernst talking in a grumpy Muppet voice, a truncated line from Hamlet, some ambient noise and a slide whistle before the song even really starts. Once “Slim Skeleton” kicks off, you get a bouncy circus groove contrasted with a first-person testimonial from a skeleton (the aforementioned Slim) about the existential injustice of being dead. While Ernst sings, “how cruel that one can / just disappear, no dignity,” the music sounds like something from a children’s TV show from a bygone era. There’s a Halloween novelty song ending that adds a nice twist to “Slim Skeleton,” showcasing, once again, Ernst as one of Ball of Wax‘s most idiosyncratic songwriters.

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