Saturday, March 27, 1993

Looking backwards

I’m a writer and a cartoonist. IMHO, I’m damned good at both. But I’d rather be musician. As Zappa once said, music is the best. Nothing gets into the soul like music, cuts right straight through, right past the traffic cop/censor at the center of your head.

I remember, around 1970 or so, hearing this profound, new, weird, deep, honest, clean sound. Think it was at some trip to USF with Jeff Scarbrough to see “Easy Rider.” In that Brutalist concrete building, I heard a fragment of a Crosby Stills and Nash tune on somebody’s radio. File-not-found as to title, but a weird, trippy, flowing thing. (Heard it again on a cassette tape that got mobius-stripped –- it sounded just as good backwards.)
Later on, got more tastes of that new sound.

Graham Nash’s “Please Come to Chicago.” 

That bizarre backwards guitar riff Hendrix plays on “Are You Experienced.”

Santana shredding into "Black Magic Woman," not the chorus, but the bubbling, noodling improv parts that the Stones seemed to copy in “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

And Clapton. “Sunshine of Your Love.” “White Room.” As the graffito said, “Eric Clapton is God.” That’s taking it a bit too far. But not that far. Goddamn, this was something new! Hey, the music was a revolution! Hearing that music, it was easy to believe there’d be a revolution. This music was going to CREATE a revolution. Rock would save our fucking souls.

A few years later, it was all Disco Duck and fucking John Travolta.
Two years from now, I'll be 40. Ain't that a laff?
Now, with the objectivity and equanimity of incipient decrepitude, I can see that de gustibus non disputandum est, and that so many hopping, bopping young folk had a jolly time to the metronomic, robotic, cocaine-inflected shiny, plastic disco beat.

But I hated the 70s like Napoleon hated Elba. There I was, exiled at the University of Virginity where the spirit of the 60s had fled, at least from where I stood. Feeling cheated, like the snotnose punk I was. The party was over, dude. You missed it, by just a few years. Now we’re all clean-cut preppies wearing Izod Lacoste polo shirts and Sperry Topsider shoes and we talk for hours about the joys of onion soup and THINGS, all the nice stuff we’re going to buy when we move into positions of power in the Beltway just like our parents. If you took a shot of tequila every time one of these fuckers mentioned a brand name, you’d be puking blood in 15 minutes.

But punk was a rearguard action. Punk gave me hope.

By the mid-1980s, there were glimmers of light in the hairband darkness. The early 90s has been pretty fucking cool.

Goddamnit, I love grunge.

Ain't no revolution yet. Not much chance of that. I know that now.

But at least there's some cool tunes.