Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I just spent the last two hours here at work listening to the fire alarm. Thankfully, for you, they finally turned it off. Otherwise, you wouldn't get your VH1 Classic recaps.

Btw, the two songs I heard off the new Interpol album are more of the same in the most beautiful way possible. If I get around to it, my next Freelance Mentalists piece should be about why the heck I like them so much. Reason #45) Duran Duran never got mad.

Rod Stewart, "Crazy About Her": one of the things I hate in retrospect about MTV Unplugged is how it neutered the careers of pop hacks like Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton, sending them into careers of profitable nostalgia. Instead of Michelob ad obnoxiousness like "Pretending" we get whittlin' blues. Instead of crass Miami Vice insanity like "Crazy About Her" we get supper club shit.

Since I knew him as a decrepit VH1 poodle long before I heard Every Picture Tells A Story, I'm not offended by the blatant commercialism of his work over the last thirty years. It may be the wholly unwarranted cynicism of a close-minded sprat, but great albums are so few and far between that if you knock off two (Every Picture and Never A Dull Moment), you're free to spend the rest of your days dancing around all the Pepsi bottles you like; you've met your quota. Sure, you're nobody's hero, you ain't Neil Young, but I'm not going to waste my breath shrieking "sell-out!" for crimes that any alternative rocker could point out. ESPECIALLY if your knack for solid singles is as enduring as Stewart's was. The guy had top twenty hits for over twenty years, liberally incorporating modern technology and styles while maintaining his magnificent vocal charisma. He stopped making good albums, but his singles comp beats your singles comp.

In blinkered hindsight, "Crazy About Her" seems as bonkers as Greendale and almost as commendable. While women shot in writhe and soak themselves with sponges under ceiling fans and men in white coats blow horns in shades and perms, Stewart cuts a vigorous rug, slapping his jeans and humping his chair with a ferocity previously unknownto the middle-aged, recounting the tale of a working class "coackroach on the floor" who's hungry for a hot, young, beautiful girl who, despite all that stands between them, is destined to be his. The lyrics are tre quirk ("I see her jogging in Central Parkwith one of them WALKMANS on her head!") and his vocals vary from a cutting near-rap to ungodly hollers (he's gonna give her something ALL THOSE RICH GUYS AIN'T GOT!) and gasps for help. The capper is when it turns out that this lady is his boss's girl! OW NOW! On the album this revelation is followed by one of the most unhinged shrieks committed to tape but for the video version they replace it with another run through the chorus (you can still hear his cries in the background of the fade-out).

Why on earth would you want to hate on a guy who's given you both this AND "You Wear It Well" in a single lifetime? As Ian MacKaye says, WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE?

Rod Stewart, "You're In My Heart": Plus he ALSO gave MTV 20+ outrageous video clips right when they started. This one consists of a visibly intoxicated Rod attempting to woo us in a fancy restaurant before getting bored and switching the backdrop to ESPN. I shit you not. This might not seem that absurd if you know that the song is actually about the Celtic United football team and the eventual emergency use of a stomach pump.

Van Halen, "So Is This Love?": How many Van Halen videos feature Tarzan outdoing Elvis in the pelvis department while Eddie and Michael smile and respectively noodle and throb over Alex's diddlybop-diddlybop-diddlybop-diddlybop? And why weren't there more? David Lee Roth isn't the only man on earth who wants to be remembered for doing splits off of a drum riser, but he's the only man who will be.

Billy Joel, "We Didn't Start The Fire": This track seemed real profound back when I was a precocious prepubescent, so much so that I still remember most of the lyrics. CHILDREN OF THALIDOMIDE! I don't think most people realize that it wasn't originally meant as a social studies tool so much as an anthem for defensive, guilt-ridden baby boomers. DYLAN, BERLIN, BAY OF PIGS INVASION! It's not their fault the world sucks, and that some of them elected Reagan, look at all the crazy shit they dealt with as children! EDSEL WAS A NO-GO! JFK, BLOWN AWAY, WHAT ELSE DOES HE HAVE TO SAY?! Nonetheless, I find it interesting that its Rock'n'Roller Cola Wars that inspire him to announce that he can't take it anymore. I hope the Gen-X version in a dozen years will be called "I Learned It From Watching You, Dad."

Billy Joel, "Uptown Girl": Joel is such a hateful little man that the high point of his life (not to mention his musical career) was when he bagged a model and decided to do a victory lap. Underneath the cheerful Frankie Vallisms that make this my favorite Joel track (excepting "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," of course) is some serious grudge-fuck, oh-you-want-some-backstreet-guy-you-rich-bitch-with-your-toys-I-bet-yo-mamma-never-told-you-why-ha-ha-take-that-you-high-class-assholes-I'm-fucking-Christie-Brinkley anger. It's hard for me to hate the guy when he's dancing, though, and he was doing that a LOT back in 1983.

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