Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Soul Check

I'm in the car with Miss Dolly, listening to Hank Williams "Lovesick Blues": "I'm so lo-ooh-o-ooh-onesome, I've got the lovesick blues." Dolly's kind of nodding her head, and she says, "You know who this sounds like?"

"Who, sweetheart?"

"Spongebob."

And you know, she's right. Spongebob takes a lot of his mournful stylings on "I Ripped My Pants" from Hank Sr. With a healthy dash of the less obnoxious Beach Boys tunes. I know it's a cover, but I have to say I get a little choked up every time I hear "Sloop John B."

So the banner up above me as I write this is for Neighborhoodies, and it keeps going from this girls face to her "jezebel" t-shirt, stretched pleasingly over a really nice set of tits. (I wrote this on MySpace.) And, like Ann Magnusson in the Bongwater song "Nick Cave Dolls," I'm thinking "I want some." (Actually, she says "I want one," referring to the mythical Nick Cave doll, but if I said "I want one," what would that mean? One girl, sure, but since I referred to her breasts, one breast wouldn't make much sense, especially sans girl. Tell you what, though--someone ought to make Nick Cave dolls. You could have different years--like the "From Her to Eternity" Nick could have poofy hair and dirty syringes, and modern Nick could have tailored suits and children.)

Okay, enough of that. I just wanted to check in and let everyone know how much I love Hank. If listening to him doesn't stir your soul and make you feel that eternal lonliness and isolation of being an individual on the lost highway, just moanin' the blues, well--I guess you're dead. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but country is the soul music for the poor peckerwood. It speaks from the heart, and nobody yodels or croons like Hank. (Except maybe Spongebob--but, like Hank, he knows suffering...)

It's really a shame what happened to country music, though the whole Americana get-down holds a ray of hope. It's like country got so fucked over, they had to rename it. However, I still kind of hold to "country" as a name--I mean, they didn't rename Rock and Roll "Granite and Locomotion" after all bands like Korn nailed the coffin....because it rose again! ...and again...it ain't noise pollution and it'll never die...though they really ought to consider renaming Punk. It's been punked out a little too much since Legs McNeil coined that one. I was subjected to a A Simple Plan video while waiting for the Spongebob Movie to begin with Dolly and Kristina the other day. (See--everything comes full circle.) My lord, what an awful load of shit that band is. It's really supposed to be about more than haircuts--I mean, can you put spiked belts and flouncy mohawks on 'N Sync and make a punk band? Is that all there is to it? I guess so: some record executive just did. And to think Good Charlotte went as far as getting tattooed...that million dollar nest egg's going to be eaten away by the laser. The video was all about "I'm young and disaffected and you just don't understand me, man." Which, to be honest, is what 95% of all punk songs are about, but "All the kids wanna sniff some glue, all the kids want something to do" gets across the disaffected youth part a little more vigorously and imaginatively.

Jesus Fuck: 3/4 of the Ramones are DEAD! When Tommy dies, we'll see the four horsemen of the Apocalypse on the horizon and know it's really all over. Then what are you going to say? How are you going to account for yourself when the goats are seperated from the sheep and your name isn't in the Book of Life: "Oh, I'm sorry, I was just too busy that day when I had a perfectly decent chance at blowing up A Simple Plan's tour bus. I had to do my laundry." Yeah--there'll be a reckoning.

Okay, this chick's tits are somewhat enervating at this point. I get the selling point, fellas. "Direct from Brooklyn...Neigborhoodies Spread the Love." Well, what fucking good does that do me here and now, jack? The camera pan in your banner is making me Blair Witch dizzy, and those beauteous breasts are on the wrong side of the country. Digital tits...what good are they?

Anyhow, this mullet-headed Achy Breaky shit is to country what A Simple Plan is to The Ramones, or what the "baby-ooh-ooh-ooh, you look so fine but you broke my heart, ooh-ooh baby, let's drink Remy and get romantic" shit that's called R&B nowadays is to a guy like Otis Redding. I'll tell you what--it might be a good thing Otis died young, because he was a big man, and he'd be knocking some goddamned sense into some of these young weepy-eyed brothers. "I've been loving you, far too long, to stop now..." Otis was a loving motherfucker, but he was nobody's "baby ooh-ooh-ooh" bitch, he was a fucking man. To quote Chuck D: "Your general subject love is minimal--it's sex for profit." You got the rhythm but you go no soul.

Self-reflexive moment: Man, it sure feels good for a whitey college boy to quote Chuck D, even at this late a date.

I know it's a fart in a hurricane, but what the fuck good is it when a song that's all about love, about the deepest part of the heart, is just a fabrication to sell product? When Hank said "I went down to the river, so lonesome I wanted to die" do you think he didn't feel it? Was he thinking about a possible cross-polination with the fast food market on the new Burger King compilation CD? Listen to a song like the Vibrators "Baby Baby" or the Ramones "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" or The Saints "Messin' With the Kid" and you can feel the desire and yearing and heartache. Tell me whitey ain't got no soul, motherfucker.

Oh fuck, who am I kidding? I'm banging my head against a wall trying to figure out how to get the young, artful nonconformist to drink Red Stripe. Really--it's like, such a free-thinking beer. My boss is all about being true to the "everyday hero" and the common man, but he wouldn't know the comman man if a common man bit him on the ass.

Soul check: Hank, Brian Wilson (at times), Ann Magnusson, Nick Cave, Otis, Chuck, Vibrators, Saints, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, Tommy, and Spongebob. Me (at times).

Gas Face: Korn, A Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, 'N Sync, Billy Ray, Brian Wilson (at times), me (at times), Billy Ray's mullet, the whole fucking retro glam-rock 80's electroclash, ironic post-modern rehash flounce-mullet, 21 year-old ├╝ber cool cocaine scene. I saw the art director of a supposedly very cool lowbrow art rag wearing motherfucking acid wash jeans at Social Distortion. Are you fucking kidding me? Sweetie, you can't polish a turd, you'll just get your hands dirty. Recontextualizing only goes so far: wearing the same retarded pants and slouch boots the cheerleader cunts wore in high school twenty years down the line does not make you a forward-thinking cultural iconoclast. It makes you a victim. What next, the return of those godawful VISION STREET WEAR shirts? (I know--slow moving cows with a shotgun.)

And Nike owns Converse--even Chuck Taylor's are fucked now. To think there was a time when Hank Williams was popular culture. And Otis, and Sly Stone, and Al Green. There are still good things out there--it can't be bad that Social D sold out the Warfield two nights in a row. But the shit is starting to come over the top of my waders.

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