music / Columns

Music’s 3Rs 2.25.13: This Party Took a Turn for the Wrong

February 25, 2013 | Posted by Sean Comer


Vandelay Industries and present this week’s Music’s 3 Rs with limited suckitude, brought to you by the Southern & Longmore Starbucks in scenic Mesa, AZ, as well as the following.

Bob Marley, “Three Little Birds”

The Supernaturals, “Smile”

Juliana Hatfield, “Fireflies”

Liz Phair, “Divorce Song”

FamilyJules7X, “Leaving Earth/An End Once and For All (Mass Effect 3 guitar cover)

Welcome back, one and all. I’m Sean. You’re not. If you’ve never had food poisoning, then you’re better for the latter being truth. Remember, fellow Babies: I didn’t break the news. It was that way when I got here.

“Maybe I’m wrong, but just maybe, maybe you’re Right…”

Frank Ocean’s unreleased “Eyes Like Sky”
Permit me a fairly safe assumption: the world will never, ever be filled with a surplus of undesired Frank Ocean songs.
No, “Eyes Like Sky” reportedly isn’t a herald of the delicate-voiced crooner’s forthcoming follow-up to 2012’s acclaimed Channel ORANGE. It is downright sublime, though.

It would leave me gobsmacked to meet the reasonable listener who hears Ocean’s music – especially this apparently shelved cut about the sight beyond the eyes’ threshold of the blind untouched by the world’s sometimes wicked, seductive, cynical sights – and make an argument that Ocean is anything except one of music’s purest voices. The spare drum loop and floating acoustic guitar combine with Ocean’s gentle timbre and introspection to craft a song that’s like a soft, fleeting breeze: tantalizing, refreshing, stimulating, but gone as swiftly as it introduced itself.

Johnny Marr: Move along, Smiths-reunion hopefuls, nothing to see here
Good on former The Smiths guitarist and co-songwriter Johnny Marr for saying so succinctly to fans of the English 80s alternative icons of disillusioned navel-gazing – and, more to the point, forefathers of emo – what an entire 2003 novel by Marc Spitz didn’t quite get across.

In speaking recently with NPR, Marr laid down the law in as gentlemanly-yet-blunt fashion as he could probably manage after hearing this one request one million times that there will be no foreseeable-future Smiths reunion. Marr has often been a focal point of speculators’ dissections of the band’s 1987 split, thanks to a cadre of cock-ups. For one thing, Marr did cite exhaustion and being upon alcoholism’s doorstep when he took a June 1987 sabbatical from the band. In July 1987, he quit for good because he erroneously believed that lead singer Morrissey had fed the scathing NME article titled “Smiths to Split” claiming that Marr was a band cancer that he no longer wished to deal with.

Marr would personally contact NME later and clarify that he had no beef with Morrissey or anyone else in The Smiths, but actually just had other music he would rather be making.

Through the years following the band’s eventual breakup later that year, Morrissey and Marr would later find themselves backed against a wall over division of royalties with both drummer Mike Joyce and bassist Andrew Rourke.

Marr has heard ceaseless rumors and ceaseless pleas surrounding whether or not the foursome would ever play together again. It sounds like he could do with never broaching the subject again.

“(Fans) hope there will be some big happy ending,” Marr said. “The fact is, there is a happy ending — I’m happy. It’s all cool. It’s slightly difficult when people assume that your life will be complete, or everybody’s life will be complete, if this band from 25 years ago reforms.

“Life doesn’t need that to happen for things to be okay” he continued, suggesting too that if the band’s followers so need positive direction in their lives, they should maybe “go see the Dalai Lama or something that’ll make you feel better.”
I don’t love that last pithy suggestion purely for snark’s sake. I respect it because after more than 20 years hearing the pleading, there could be not much more an emphatic punctuation on this discussion than that.

This past summer, I read the aforementioned novel by Spitz, titled “How Soon Is Never?”, after nearly a decade letting it collect dust upon my bookshelf until I could “get around to it.” Finishing it took me a solid two weeks, even with little else to do while awaiting my Mesa apartment’s move-in date except hike the foothills surrounding Kingman, AZ, and write.

It didn’t take me two weeks because it’s a particularly dense read. Oh, no. It took me two weeks because this tale of a bitter substance-addicted music writer who embarks on a quest to reunite The Smiths to reignite some dying ember of his life’s joy is a depressing portrait of misplaced expectation and a staggering, disturbing inability to understand that this band owes the world nothing.

The incredibly unlikable main character spends some 300-plus pages tracking down all four Smiths, only to be finally confronted with the novel notion that while the four don’t hate one another and in fact wouldn’t necessarily oppose a reunion, they don’t feel some obligation to the greater good to play together again.

Yet, I muddled through. I’m a finish-what-I-start guy.

Art, of all kinds, is personal. Even the most commercially-oriented, pandering creations are born of a personal desire: make money making music, painting, acting, singing, sculpting, etc. Others make music that is singularly driven by an internal compass that won’t be denied in direction nor insistence. No matter how much I may abhor every Incubus album post-Morning View, who exactly would I be to tell Brandon Boyd and Friends that they owe millions of strangers more albums such as Fungus Amongus or S.C.I.E.N.C.E..

The Smiths were born of a likewise singularly personal place and time in four men’s lives. As uniquely artistic creatures, they know that no music any of them could make would be worth creating if they made it wholly or even largely for anyone’s satisfaction but their own. They’re happy with where they are musically. Embrace that. Embrace what comes of it, because while it may not be Meat is Murder, it’s still an open window to four men’s souls. These men made choices to be lifelong creators, not so much for commercial viability’s sake, but because, to quote John Lee Hooker, “It’s in ‘em, and it got to come out.”

If we’d rather not look, I’m sure they can all accept that. We’ve no right, though, to be so spoiled as to be offered intimate songs out of their own varying levels of openness, then demand something more.

“I don’t wanna fight, Jack, but you ain’t ever right, you know you wRong…”

Bill Wyman deserved better from The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones couldn’t have thrown Bill Wyman a bit more of a bone than this? Really?

The founding Stones bassist told The Times (via NME) in no uncertain terms that he felt his 50th Anniversary cameo appearances with his old band-mates cheated him after over a year spent building up his hopes for a longer, more involved reunion.

Wyman played with the band from its 1962 inception until 1993, after leaving the 1989/1990 “Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle” tour citing a fear of flying. The Stones have since recorded often with bassist Darryl Jones, while Wyman has often collaborated with another from stone, ex-rhythm guitarist Mick Taylor.

For the Stones’ 50th Anniversary concerts at London’s O2 Arena, Wyman jammed with his old friends only on “Honky Tonk Women” and “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)”.

“In December 2011 Keith Richards called and said, ‘Come on mate, why don’t you have a jam with us?’ Then they asked if I’d be interested in getting involved in the band for a special occasion,” Wyman explained. “I thought I would get quite heavily involved, so when they said they only wanted me to do two songs I was a bit disappointed. I only had one rehearsal and no sound-check so I just winged it. It was great, but I didn’t want to go to America for two songs. I think they understood. Well, Charlie Watts did.”

I really can’t blame him.

Two songs? Really? For nearly 30 years, Wyman was the backbone along with drummer Watts of the inimitable Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Think of how many legendary songs have been emblazoned with him, Taylor, late founding rhythm guitarist Brian Jones and Watts, if you’ll forgive the pun, keeping the songs solid, steady as a freight train.

That’s quite the unceremonious gesture.
Taylor Swift OK with breakup songs about her
Good for her?

The Grammy-nominated bint recently told InStyle U.K. that she’s copasetic if her various publicly denigrated exes feel like dragging her pasty mug through the muck. Fair’s fair, she admitted, if Joe Jonas, John Mayer and Harry Styles want to let her have it.

“If I’m gonna write songs about my exes they can write songs about me,” she said. “That’s how it works. I’m not gonna complain about it. I’m not gonna sit there and say, ‘I’m the only one who can write songs about this relationship.’ It’s fair game.”

No, you dunce. You still don’t get it.

They’re taking what’s called “The High Road.” They’re behaving with what’s commonly recognized as “dignity.” We like to use that term sparingly when applying it to Mayer, but keep in mind, scope has been limited to his songwriting.

Against all assessments of what you truly deserve, you’re being treated with at least a small measure of respect when you really have the Justin Timberlake/”What Goes Around…” treatment coming to you, by most estimations.

They’re being gentlemanly. You’re being bitchy and opportunistic.

“Now, how could I possibly be inconspicuous when my flow is f***in’ Ridiculous?”

 photo RIDICULOUS_zps450711f3.jpg

Pitbull wins Lindsay Lohan lawsuit
When I read stories like this, I sometimes feel like someone out there knows the number of times I’ve inexplicably sat through Deadliest Warriot and wondered, “There could be no adversarial premise more stupid than this.”

I shudder to imagine who in every deep-fat-frying Hell wondered “Who would win in a battle of deficient wits: Pitbull or Lindsay Lohan?” Still, we now have an answer to a question I’d weep at someone actually asking. TMZ reported that a New York federal judge, who probably has re-examined his significance in the judicial system for hearing this case, has ruled that the actress addled by all of the drugs at once cannot collect damages from the Miami rapper for dropping her name his 2011 song “Give Me Everything”.

Two years ago, Pitbull rapped that he “got locked up like Lindsay Lohan.” It’s a fair point, since Dingus has indeed been incarcerated, even if only for less time than it takes most people to receive an Amazon order. Lohan alleged that Pitbull should have sought her permission before using her name.

Please, stop laughing. She actually thought rap worked this way.

The judge decreed that as a work of art, the song is First-Amendment protected.

I just wonder sometimes: do these celebrities really believe the world works the way they think it does? That the justice system amounts to not much more than a hall monitor to whom they can, and will, bitch with impunity anytime someone deigns to claim that their tightly coiled fecal piles smell like anything less than dewy rose petals?

Seriously, that this judge didn’t just say “Yeah, I quit” the moment this case darkened the docket speaks volumes for apparent dedication and patience that I will never possess.

The sun’s comin’ up…I’m ridin’ with Lady Luck
It was a wild, wild week in a wild, wild world. Still, I can’t help but feel like this biscuit o’ bizarre needs some gravy. Here it is, fellow Babies everywhere – the moment you realize what a wonderful world this can be. Your one, only, weekly MOMENT OF GWAR…

Keep your stick on the ice. I’m Sean. You’re not. Never dull your colors for someone else’s canvas.

Oh, one more thing…


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Sean Comer
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