Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where Is Holden Caulfield When We Need Him?

An airport. Somewhere. Leafing through an April 29 copy of Rolling Stone, which is bleating about “40 Reasons to be Excited About Music.” “The future is here and it rocks.” Spare me. The present is here and it limps. Their reason #9 was the only cool one: “You can still see Chuck Berry play once a month.” This is all we have left for a music mag, whilst England, with 1/6th the population of the U.S., swings with about ten major and well writ music publications; plus the BBC programming of shows designed to seek out the wide history and world fronts of great music: rock, jazz, classical, blues, folk, world… what have you. But wait, next time I pick up a "Rolling Stone" they’re featuring the 500 best rock songs ever written. Desperate now. The lists roll out with there’s nothing else to write about. I might agree with some of their song choices…here’s the kicker. Over 90% of their 500 best songs ever written were written before 1970. The summation is there ain’t been much to be excited about in the last forty years - with all our bleating, digital gadgetry, conferences, alliances, SXSW, “how to write songs” cartoon books, posturing circus rap, and lack of human artistic character. The chaos has led us, with our little IPOD head phones on, into the death throes of popular song. We’ve pulled the carpet out from under the original voice. We’ve lost our ability to speak in passionate musical tongue. Mostly. Sorta. Is it waxing nostalgic to go back and re- dig “Exile on Main Street,” or “Highway 61 Revisited?” It’s raw necessity. Nostalgia you say? Is there anything nostalgic about digging some of those Van Gogh paintings? They look like they were painted this morning. They drip blood. Like Highway 61 and Exile. We are a bloodless nation now. Where are the painters, writers, songwriters, novelists and good plumbers? Why don’t dentists use laughing gas anymore? Huh? My job is to shut up and write a song. I know that. I shall try, amigos. Every morning. Meanwhile “Rolling Stone,” struggling for something to write about, centers less on real music and more on throwing spitballs, sliders, curves and head dusters at the current president, whom they helped elect - and the were the first to turn against. We’ve got “freelance” journalists sucker punching American Generals over free drinks in Paris whiskey bars in the name of cheap shot, rummy journalism and sensationalism. And, aw, those interminable lists they throw out. Ah, hell. Where is Holden Caulfield when we need him? Old Holden would tell us what’s phony and what ain’t. It’s Barnum and Bailey time. There’s a paper moon hanging over a cardboard sea. But its happy hour, friends. I promise to write that song in the morning. I’ll open up and vein and see what drips down on paper then I’ll go paint something while blasting “Exile on Main Street (the re-issue) from my ghetto blaster.