Saturday, March 22, 2008

Top Ten Musical Oddities of the Week

10. I’m out of town and likely doing some karaoke while I’m at, but other items on this list will certainly be on my mind while I’m at it.

9. I finally saw the drum set of my friend Hannah Meyers — who recently created the amusing New Wave-parodying song “Emoticons Turn Me Off” (which you can find on her webpage) — but saw it under about the worst possible circumstances, with her family and friends gathering to mourn her brother Isaac, who passed away this week in a car accident — young, Yale-educated, conservative, and possessed of a sizable comic book collection, as I saw with my own eyes (glimpsing the classic, funereal graphic novel The Death of Captain Marvel in the heap in his room).

8. I had just been thinking the day before about the death and short life of deranged and out-of-control punk rocker GG Allin — wondering whether his life would have been better had he lived longer or whether it had a certain completeness and narrative arc to it the way it was, like that of Jesus, after whom he was named and to whom he’s sure to be paralleled in any future movie about his strange, disturbing life (not quite an Easter story, as you’ll see if you read the Wikpedia entry about him — and, to put it mildly, not quite as easily reconciled with the conservative sensibility as some other aspects of punk that I care about more).

7. I’d been thinking of Allin because his name appears on the short list of examples-of-things-we-play on perfect online music station — which also lists Patsy Cline as an example, another reminder that the station, whose creators I feel like befriending, seems somehow to have tapped directly into my and my friends’ brains and read our preferences, from New Wave to blues — but then, all the dive bars that play both Johnny Cash and the Pixies seem to have our number, too, so we’re not alone, much as we might like to be. And DevilsNight seemed to know I needed a bit more New Wave and obliged me with Epoxies — and then with my favorite non-Top-40 INXS song, the eerily beautiful “Johnson’s Aeroplane.”

6. Daniel Radosh, whose book Rapture Ready! about Christian pop culture will be my April Book Selection (when the book is released, on April Fool’s Day), mailed me and others a promotional CD of Christian rock mentioned in his book –the kind of stuff he’ll bravely defend in his April 2 Debate at Lolita Bar (hosted by me) on the question “Does Christian Rock Suck?” with God-believer and rocker Brian McCarter, cast against type, arguing yes.

5. Irwin Chusid informs me that the odd cover we heard of one of my favorite songs, “Burning Down the House,” was by none other than Tom Jones and the Cardigans.

4. Not to be outdone by Wales, Scotland’s Grant Morrison — my favorite comic book writer, as you’ll be reminded when I make issue #1 of his impending series Final Crisis my May Book Selection — also rocks, and not half badly, at least not twenty years ago, when he sang “Tortured Soul” with his band the Fauves (not the later Australian band of the same art-movement-inspired name), as noted this week by the comic industry’s premier gossip columnist, Rich Johnston. The Fauves reportedly broke up after the drummer left, complaining that Morrison’s “poovy” songs were too Morrissey-influenced, not hard to believe considering that I recall Smiths-song references even making it into Morrison’s comic books back then, as in the Doom Patrol story (one of the first things by him I read) in which the old DC Comics villains Mallah and the Brain, a talking French gorilla and a brain in a vat on tank treads, confess their gay love just before being blown up, leaving us with the lyrical narration “Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body? I don’t know.”

3. On a vaguely similar note, I have to confess I only just learned that Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus are in fact the same person.

2. On another body-vs.-spirit note, there’s apparently a movie in the works about the Christian lead singer of Alice in Chains, who died of a heroin overdose — making them just one of numerous major 90s alternative rock bands felled by heroin, without much corresponding generalized outcry against the habit at the time, from what I recall.

1. My friend Paul Taylor just mailed me DVDs of our old home movies from childhood, such as a mock-ad for a line of action figures based on every embarrassing detail we could think of from our friend John Hersh’s life, climaxed (to the tune of the G.I. Joe theme song) by the martial lyrics “Yo, John Hersh in the Chicken Palace — a real American lame-o.” I know it sounds very wrong, and yet I’m going to have to set aside about a day to fully enjoy these. By contrast, I may skip next year’s actual live-action G.I. Joe movie, to protest them turning “G.I. JOE” into an acronym for an international anti-terrorism taskforce headquartered in — I almost can’t type it without vomiting — Belgium.

But for more on geopolitics and the Cold War worldview, come back tomorrow for my Book Selections of the Month, with a dash of Pope John Paul II just in time for Easter, as Buckley would have wanted it.


kc said...

Where the heck did you get the notion that Alice-in-Chains’ Lane Staley was a Christian? The Google says nothing about this. I’m calling bullshit. I dare you to prove me wrong.

dave said...

GG Allin! When I used to work for the Rutherford NJ paper, I ran into some guys at a bar who knew his brother and told me all about him. I had never heard of him before, and only one acquantence was also familiar with the guy. There was supposed to be a tribute at Connections in Clifton that was cancelled. I’m just surprised to hear his name surface again.

And I’m putting my vote in for Christian Rock not sucking if Layne Stanley was a part of it.

Todd Seavey said...

The Google search kc mentions might go better if the subject were spelled “Layne Staley,” but I claim no expertise here.

Staley was raised Christan Scientist, and I’d heard that he thought his body could survive the ravages of drugs if he kept the proper attitude. I know that some Christian rock fans — perhaps too eargerly — took the Christian lines in songs like “Man in a Box,” “God Smack,” and “Get Born Again” rather seriously. Staley may have just worshipped drugs by the time he died, though. I don’t know — guess we’ll have to see the movie.

Here’s one Googled item mentioning his Christian Science upbringing, though:

jenny said...

and it was very good karaoke indeed.

Sarah said...

Todd brought the house down with his impassioned performance of “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

Todd Seavey said...

Thank you, thank you.

Red Stapler said...

Grant Morrison — my favorite comic book writer, as you’ll be reminded when I make issue #1 of his impending series Final Crisis my May Book Selection

Further proof that comic books are a harder habit to kick that heroin (sorry, Layne Stanley!) and cigarettes.

How’s that “giving up comic books” thing going? ;)

Todd Seavey said...

One-time return to the habit to get the very-unusual Morrison _Final Crisis_ miniseries, in part because it’s “final.”

Red Stapler said...

Come on, Todd.

You know better than to believe DC when they say something is “Final.” ESPECIALLY when the word “Crisis” is involved.

Todd Seavey said...

Well, it’s final for me — they can’t unite Morrison, Kirby, and Crises for the first time _again_. This is the sum of all my comics hopes and dreams at last — and without much spin-off or crossover material, they’ve repeatedly promised, so I can just read Morrison.

Irwin Chusid said...

Regarding your admission about discovering that Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus are the same person, face it, Todd, you’re just old.