Y'know, it's a wacky, kooky world we're livin' in. Youth culture, as insidious as it has come to be, is really only about 50 years old. All the distinctions that those of us who consume art and music make that revolve around what's cynical and what's genuine are, in this context, relatively new things. Sure, we've been saying this sharpened stick rocks and this one sucks since the cave days. This chariot shreds ass, this one is a lemon. This continent is full of asshole indians and this one has these short l'il folks what we can conquer easy.
The illustrious Mrs. Packer has drawn my attention to a few things that are interesting about these distinctions.
When I finish the laundry I shall speak of them.
O.K., laundry's all done and i got some caffee. You know I like th' caffee. I like all that kind of stuff that makes your head bad. Unless Monsanto or Glaxo-Smith-Blowme makes it. Then it's just a tool of The Man to Keep A Brother Down. Juan Valdez? Cuervo Gold? Hippy Johnny From Vermont? Purveyors all of fine, fine products.
Let's think about a couple two three things. I'm angry that the lousy crappy shitemeisters at Coca Cola Records have perverted modern music so that we can pretty much assume that anything that a lot of people like is bad. Hey, it's true. We all know that. What on earth was it like before? I don't know. It wasn't as neat. Kids and parents sat next to the radio together and dug Ol' Blue Eyes. Must've been a trip. I can't imagine. We all know god damn well that the main use of pop music now is to piss off your parents. It's been that way since 1965. Thing is, in 1965 it was really good.
I love the Beatles. But I love Lothar and The Hand People just as much. I love The Police. But I love Wild Man Fischer just as much. I love Roxy Music. But I love The Ware River Club. Roxy Music/King Radio. Jack Kerouac/Ken Nordeen. Dickens/Bukowski.
I think that all the people on the right side of the column have Universal Appeal. Universal Appeal will get you six people smilin' big in a empty club.
When I was getting up night after night and facing indifferent people with my own songs I started to really worry that I wasn't connecting with them. And I wasn't. I fucking hated them. And they hated me. I'd have sooner cut a swath through them with my swinging bass guitar than sing to them. The size of my agenda was simply too huge for us to have a good time together. I used to think it was something like my eyes were too deepset and I'd wear eyeliner. I used to think all kinds of weird shit. It couldn't have been the music. The music was great. I still know that. Trust me- I have a pact of honesty with myself.
Nowadays, I get up and do "In The Midnight Hour" and let my wang fall outta my pants and we're one big happy family. I do "Take Me To The River" and I trip over my feet and fall over the drumkit and everybody's happy. I'm so connected with the audience. I could lean out and kiss them. I could tell them secrets. They like me. I like them a lot. It has finally fucking dawned on me at age 40 what Entertainment is. It's about being brave and open and stupid and human. At least that's what it is for me. You don't want to be too sincere. It's uncomfortable. And one must check one's agenda at the door. It doesn't mix with beer.
It's such a relief to know I can Entertain. It's kind of a revelation. Don't get me wrong- I've seen audiences really eat shit up, but for me it was always the wrong shit. It wasn't my Creative Brilliance they were eating up. It was th' fucking drum solo.
I can't speak for these dudes that get the Big Break and they do what they do and never much think about it. All I've done is play my shit for people, make people with money like it, put me in their company and put my shit out, like that. I never got the Big Break. I just wanted to build it up a few at a time, a show at a time, 300-400 miles a day.
But see, my shit is weird. It's not Flaming Lips weird either. It's not Nirvana weird or Pink Floyd weird. It's way too accomplished- it makes people suspicious. it's real polished. And people think that's a play for commercialism but it sure as hell isn't. It's just how it comes out. I'm just very, very skilled. And I won't act like I'm not. Christ, if I wanted to be commercial I'd get some turntables and some Funkadelic samples and shoot somebody. That's Commercial. Making Elton John sound like a garage band is not Commercial.
And that is really, really weird. And The Thing That I'm Reaching For is WEIRD, yo. We're talking Gershwin/Stravinski/Pucchini/Cole Porter/Beethoven weird. That's just the way it is.
I don't think these teenie bopper cuntfaces today have any Universal Appeal at all. One year and they're like old magazines. Gross. I don't think there's much in our culture that has much Universal Appeal. Seagram's says "like it, god damn it" and Brad Pitt says "it's hip" and hey, you've got a phenomenon. I don't think many of these people on the radio could actually entertain and transform a group of people with the barest essentials. Gotta have lights. Gotta have backup tapes. Gotta have all this expensive shite.
These children would be FUCKED without all that crap. Oh, they're bad. Bad. Ryan Cabrera and Assleigh Simpleton and Avril and all these constructions. Bad.
But man, look at the charts in 1967. Where are the Beatles? Where are the Stones? Where is anybody except a buncha noname one-hitters?
Universal Appeal is a funny, funny thing. For me it's as far removed from the modern concept of Commercially Viability as can be. It has to do with transcending time and place; a lot of these people don't register a tiny uptick in their own time and place.
My highest goal in this life is to be a musician and to be afforded a place in the Big Wheel. Because I feel like I've earned it. I've chosen the Right thing over the Easy thing for 20 odd years and I'm scoffed at for it. We don't measure anything anymore except by how much money it makes.
Money gives me the god damn yawns. I swear to fucking Christ. that is some seriously boring shit in the large scheme. Listen to the 'Footmeister on that there shit.
I'm in it to rearrange brain chemistry like Bach does in "the Saint Matthew Passion". Dude, that shit will turn your crap around, right there. Martians could dig that shit.
It all comes back to the kid in The Tin Drum. Possessing the facility with your medium, whatever it is, to transform. And the more reduced and reductive the medium, the more beautiful it is. I'm always in awe of that.
I'm aiming for that. I'm reaching for That Thing. And I must remind myself how fortunate I am to even be in the position to do that. That is truly a blessing tenfold. An immeasurable luxury. If I didn't have that I don't know what I'd do.
When I was back in The Best God Damned Four Years Of Your Life And Don't You Forget It I took a class in Spanish Lit at Mount Holyoke. I thought it'd be an easy A because it was taught in Spanish and I gotta handle on that shit. Boy, is Spanish Literature bad. They can't even use quotation marks good. Anyway, there was this crappy story about some loser Catholic Priest losing his faith and all that crappy Spanish shit and he realizes at the end the the only important thing is to live as if there is a god even if there isn't.
And that's where I am. I'm understanding that The Thing maybe doesn't exist.
But oh, my fucking christ if I stop reaching for it I am so going to shoot myself to death. Bing bang boom. Or actually just bing. Actually, I reckon if you cap yourself you probably never even hear the shot. I've done all the math, y'know? I've put it all on the scales.
Because everything else is a ripoff. It's all a carefully contrived plot to keep people making new people. And I'm not interested in making new people. I'm not hardwired. They handed that shit out and I wasn't in line for some reason. I don't see the need. Might as well go to Washington and construct whores. Might as well go to Newcastle and construct coal.
I'm pretty convinced that this is what I'm supposed to do. That's about the only thing I know for reasonably sure. I think trudging around in this 6-foot case of hamburger and shit and transforming the molecules around me into beauty is what I'm for.
When I finally realized that things got a lot easier. And harder.
Don't get me wrong- go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Tower Records or whatever. I'm there. I made it there. Look for "fiction
". My band was called fiction
. I made it there. I guess we're "90's Rock
" as if the humiliation wasn't already great enough. It was the biggest detour between me and Universal Appeal I could have possibly made
. Took god damn forever. Took a million fucking tears. One day I got smart and fucked off. Ooohhh...the sheer embarrassment. The inhumanity. The grief. All those breaths taken in vain. All those fucking drives to god damn Palos Verdes and Bel Air and Santa god damn Monica. Oh, god damn it. All the lost hair. All the lost fucks. All the lost years.
And don't be tempted to buy that record, O.K.? All these really shitty people get all the money. Fucking brazen, disgusting LA types with SUVs. What on Christ's Red Fucking Ass do these people know about art or appeal or value or anything except Getting Stuff? Getting Lots Of Stuff.
Oh, thank fucking Christ I'm not that old yet. I can Still Make It Right. I'm like fucking Scrooge on god damn Christmas morning. I can still take the Cratchits the fucking goose. I can still keep my wizened tallywhacker out of Tiny Tim's crippled ass. It's not too late. Thank you, ghost of Music Past. Thank you, ghost of Music Future.
I can still be Reaching For This Thing. Oh, thank you. Thank you Festus. Glack.