'The Simpsons' and Tom Waits -- why did this perfect, heavenly mash-up take so long? You have the longest-running comedy in TV history and one of the coolest musicians around and it took over 20 years to get them together.
Last night, Waits made his big Springfield debut in the first episode of 2013, 'Homer Goes to Prep School,' as one of the leaders of the Springfield Preppers, a hardcore survivalist group living outside town and prepping for Armageddon.
Waits' sandpaper-on-cement voice is perfect for an animated character. Maybe it would scare fans of a kids show like 'Dora the Explorer,' but as an off-the-grid survivalist hanging with Homer? It works.
In honor of Waits' big 'Simpsons' debut, we're taking a look back at our 10 favorite musician cameos. Some sing, some don't, some simply wander incognito into Homer's universe.
1. Paul McCartney in 'Lisa the Vegetarian'
McCartney didn't sing, but he convinces Lisa that's it's OK to become a vegetarian, even though she's being ridiculed by everyone in Springfield. Supposedly McCartney said he'd do the show as long as Lisa remained a vegetarian for the entire series, and she has. You don't mess with a Beatle.
2. Michael Jackson in 'Stark Raving Dad'
Jackson was a fan of the show, and he played Leon Kompowsky, Homer's roommate in a mental institution. Homer went nuts after Bart turned his white shirts pink in the wash -- typical father/son stuff. The producers weren't allowed to credit Jackson at the time, so he used the name John Jay Smith, even though everyone pretty much knew it was MJ.
3. Spinal Tap in 'The Auto Show'
Bart sees a Spinal Tap show and is inspired to become a rock star (who wouldn't be?). Marge and Homer buy him a guitar; Otto plays it and gets suspended from work for making the kids late. This episode was Otto’s big break.
4. The Ramones in 'Rosebud'
In a parody of 'Citizen Kane,' Mr. Burns pines for his missing childhood toy Bobo. The Ramones are summoned to play his birthday party to try and put a smile on his smarmy mug. Smithers also tries to soothe Mr. Burns by saying, “Look at all the wonderful things you have, Mr. Burns: King Arthur's Excalibur, the only existing nude photo of Mark Twain, and that rare first draft of the Constitution, with the word ‘suckers’ in it.”
5. Sonic Youth, Cypress Hill and Smashing Pumpkins in 'Homerpalooza'
Homer's midlife crisis and fear of aging inspire him to join the Hullabalooza music festival as a carnival freak -- since being a carnival freak is so cool. Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Peter Frampton and Cypress Hill all took the stage.
6. Johnny Cash in 'El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer'
OK, next to Tom Waits this one is also pretty epic. Johnny Cash gives voice to a Space Coyote that Homer sees when he's tripping on “Guatemalan insanity peppers.” Enough said.
7. Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Lenny Kravitz and Brian Setzer in 'How I Spent My Strummer Vacation'
Marge and the kids take Homer to Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp, run by the Rolling Stones. He steals the show from the other musicians and they retaliate by trying to run him off the stage with a mobile fire-breathing dragon's head. Sounds like an old-school Motley Crue move.
8. David Byrne in 'Dude, Where's My Ranch'
Homer sings his song 'Everybody Hates Ned Flanders' at Moe's one night when David Byrne walks in. Since he loves discovering unknown musicians he turns Homer's tune into a gigantic hit. When the song gets more overplayed than 'Gangnam Style' (please let 2013 be the end of Gangnam Style) the Simpson family flee to a dude ranch to escape the attention.
9. Metallica in 'The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer'
The title of this one is a riff on a bizarro 1989 flick 'The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover' so just that alone is enough reason to check it out. Plus, Metallica.
10. Lady Gaga in 'Lisa Goes Gaga'
If you're going to get Mama Monster to give you the time of day you better make it worthwhile, right? In last season's finale, Lady Gaga helps Lisa with her low self-esteem by orchestrating a personalized flash mob. It works.
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