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Monday, August 1, 2011

All you can do is watch the shells......

Life, as they say, is what you make of so many of us, being successful in the music business would be the ultimate. Of course, we know that many a great artist is "tortured", rarely is it, in my case at least, that the art of someone who never suffered a moment of their life is something that is going to have a real lasting effect upon me.....but of course, there are those among us, and we ALL know them, for whom life is just TOO difficult.....just to inventory the names that I have known for whom life was too difficult and too sad would take me quite a few minutes. Most memorable among them was a friend fo mine named Jon....he was a classmate of mine, Class of 1979. I ran into Jon in 1980 at a used record store, locally, called "Warehouse Records" (a local legend of a vinyl smorgasbord that was with us for far, far too short a time), we were both regulars there who would get our pay, and go in and stock up on a stack of one or two dollar LP's....Jon was a rock n roller like myself, maybe a little more mainstream, I remember on that evening in 1980 one of the albums he was buying was a Kiss album, something I never would have been doing.....likely I gave him a "shot" about it, likely he retalliated about some Buzzcocks or something that I was buying and we shared a laugh......our final one...because two or three days later, I read Jon's obituary in the local was a suicide, he did the "car in the garage" thing, left a note telling his parents and his girlfriend that he just couldn't go on.......I've never forgotten that last meeting of ours, and I always think about WHY was he buying records days before he planned to end his life? Maybe he didn't "plan" it, he was after all, one of those guys, "the last guy in the WORLD you'd ever expect to take his own life"....anyway, I still think about Jon often, we were NOT especially "close", but we had rock n roll that bonded us, and we taunted each others' tastes the way only teenage boys can do, when the "better" between Kiss and the Buzzcocks seems as important as an economic crisis or an impending alien this post is for Kiss, I'm afraid, but I'd like to pay tribute to three individuals who, like Jon, just found life too difficult a task.....I hope that all of them (especially Jon) are at peace with whatever demons they couldn't overcome. Life is so sad for those of us who remain here, it must be unbearable for those who feel they must check out early.....

First up, I wish to touch on Elliott, Smith was NOT, to my way of understanding, anyway, NOT a typical "you'd never guess HE would do it"-type.....I remember a poll once, "What is the Saddest Song You Know?", and what was bizarre were the volume of DIFFERENT Elliott Smith songs that made the list. Just a small sampling of his work and I think you'd know that this man was tortured and depressed. I post here, for your enjoyment, the very fine "From a Basement on the Hill", his final work, which for me, served as a suicide note, every bit as much as the one that Jon left in the car in the garage that night. The album ends with a song entitled "A Distorted Reallity is Now a Necessity To Be Free", seemingly a fitting ending statement, but I prefer to focus on two other tortured tracks, "Pretty (Ugly Before)", and, especially, "King's Crossing"'s not something I plan to do, in general, printing entire lyrics to the stuff I post here, but in this case I feel it is appropriate. Without further ado, then, Elliott Smith's "Kings Crossing":

"The king's crossing was the main attraction/Dominoes falling in a chain reaction/A scraping subject ruled by fear/Told me whiskey works better than beer..../The judge is on vinyl decisions are final/And nobody gets a reprieve..And every wave is tidal - if you hang around ,You're going to get wet

I can't prepare for death any more than I already have....All you can do now is watch the shells/The game looks easy, that's why it sellsFrustrated fireworks inside your head/Are going to stand and deliver talk instead/The method acting that pays my bills/Keeps a fat man feeding in Beverly Hills/I got a heavy metal mouth that hurls obscenity/And I get my check in from the trash treasury

Because I took my own insides out....It don't matter 'cos I have no sex life/And all I want to do now is inject my ex-wife/I've seen the movie and I know what happens

It's Christmas time, and the needles on the tree/A skinny Santa is bringing something to me/His voice is overwhelming, but his speech is slurred/And I only understand every other word/Open your parachute and grab your gun/Fall down like an omen, a setting sun/Read the part and return at five/It's a hell of a role if you can keep it alive

But I don't care if I fuck up/I'm going on a date with a rich white lady/Ain't life great?

Give me one good reason not to do it..(Because I love you) So do it

This is the place where time reverses/Dead men talk to all the pretty nurses/Instruments shine on a silver tray/Don't let me get carried away/Don't let me get carried awayDon't let me get carried away "

Not exactly "Rock n roll all night and party every day", eh?

Elliott Smith passed away from, so they say, a SELF INFLICTED STAB WOUND on 10/21/03....I cannot think, at this moment of a more physically painful method of termination.

TRACK LISTING (Link in Comments section)

01 Coast to Coast/02 Let's Get Lost/03 Pretty (Ugly Before)/04 Don't Go Down/05 Strung Out Again/06 Fond Farewell/ 07 King's Crossing/08 Ostriches & Chirpping/09 Twilight/10 A Passing Feeling/11 Last Hour/12 Shooting Star/13 Memory Lane/14 Little One/15 A Distorted Reality Is Now a Necessity To Be Free

Now, making Elliott Smith look like Jerry Lewis, we have Ian Curtis....if you were familiar with Joy Division at their peak, you'd likely question how Mr. Curtis, so obviously miserable and tortured, had not ended it as of would be frightening indeed to wander too much into the pained mind behind this music, I will offer up "Closer".....guys, for the uninitiated, this is NOT "good time party music"....."Atrocities Exhibition" is the one that always did it for me, but pretty much any track here can take that smile off of your face and out of your soul. Rather than participate in Joy Division's scheduled tour in 1980, Curtis opted to hang himself prior to its problems (epilepsy) and marital troubles combined with the pressures of the first Joy Division tour of the USA seemingly were more than he could take. His tragic life ended May 18, 1980.

TRACK LISTING (Link In Comment Section)

01 Atrocity Exhibition/02 Isolation/03 Passover/04 Colony/05 A Means to an End/06 Heart and Soul/07 Twenty Four Hours/08 The Eternal/09 Decades

Our third suicide was not such an "obvious", although of course she was just as tortured....Wendy O Williams never SEEMED too depressed while blowing up cars and taking chainsaws to instruments while fronting the Plasmatics. I loved her and thought of her as a taboo sex Goddess, it was with incredible shock that I would read of her termination of life years after her performing career had ended (1998)....of course the Plasmatics cartoonish punk-metal was not all that great at the time AND has aged badly, but nonetheless I offer up "New Hope For the Wretched" as a tribute to Wendy.....It saddens me that her life was as unhappy as it must have been, and I hope that, wherever she may be, it might put a small smile on her face to know that she really did add to the joy of living, for a few brief minutes at least, of one Ohio coming of age "adult".

Seemingly she struggled for years with her decision, her suicide note read, in part, "I don't believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time"......

An odd coincidence: One of Wendy's best known recordings was a duet with Motorhead's Lemmy on the Tammy Wynette country standard "Stand By Your Man" (I can't find it right now, maybe I'll post it if I find it and there is interest).....anyway, Wendy's life ended from a self-inflicted gunshot on April 6, 1998....Tammy Wynette's own death (from natural causes) occurred on the same day, April 6, 1998.

TRACK LISTING (Link in comment section)

01 Tight Black Pants/02 Monkey Suit/03 Living Dead/04 Test Tube Babies/05 Won't You/06 Concrete Shoes/07 Squirm (Live)/08 Want You Baby/09 Dream Lover/10 Sometimes /11 Corruption 12/Butcher Baby

1 comment:

  1. Here are the links for the albums listed above...and I post them in tribute and memory to the departed, I, too, have been sad and depressed and lonely, I hate to think of the pain these people went through.....enjoy the music and if you have a minute leave a comment about one or all of the albums....God Bless you all....