Today’s word is hypocrisy.
Taylor Swift is a hypocrite, it says here, because she decried Apple’s attempt to not pay artists while maniacally smashing cameras at her shows. Neil Young is a hypocrite for asking Donald Trump for money, then condemning the next President of the United States for using Rocking in the Free World without first asking. And we’re all hypocrites for hailing Kurt Cobain as a god while derogating Amy Winehouse as “a mess.”
Where to begin?
Ms. Swift is a performer who has dared to stand up to Spotify. More recently, she went after the biggest game of all: Apple. She’s a regular Peggy Lee for the 21st Century — standing up for artists’ rights and all. What’s not to like? Moreover, her stance is a wise longterm career move, in that she certainly was not placed on this earth to sing on-key.
And hey, word is she now credits photographers when she reuses their images. So no harm done, eh? All it took, as Apple learned this week, was a high-profile squeaky wheel. Well done, Ms. Swift, to a degree. Well played, photographers.
As for Neil Young, lord knows his ill-fated Pono streaming service needs all the help it can get — even if it must come from Donald Trump. But that doesn’t mean he wants one of his defining songs to be attached to some yahoo running for president. I mean, there is a limit.
(Prediction: Taylor Swift will use Young’s song when she declares her candidacy for the 2020 presidential campaign.)
As for Kurt and Amy, there’s no denying women are routinely subjected to harsher treatment in the press. (See Taylor Swift, above.) And you can’t expect a Pitchfork millennial to remember how many times Cobain was referred to as a mess during his final months. ‘Cause, you know, he was a mess. As was Amy Winehouse. Talented, influential messes. But still…
So we’re all hypocrites, in our way. And for the rich and powerful, it kind of goes with the territory. Ask Ice-T. Ask Kathleen Hanna. Ask Kathleen Hanna about Katy Perry. Ask, um, a president who campaigned on closing Guantanamo or a prime minister who campaigned on Senate reform. Or, I don’t know, a blogger who professes to hate John Cougar but regularly rocks out to R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.
(That blogger, for the record, is not me. But I’m sure he or she exists. I mean, that song was huge. Me, I can’t stand the guy.)
In fact, ask yourself how well you really know your favourite rock star. Or, better, I’ll ask. We all might learn something. And besides, who doesn’t love a quiz?
Are we ready? Then let’s begin.
- Who broke up The Beatles?
- How many Elvis fans can’t be wrong?
- According to David Coverdale, how many times has the Whitesnake frontman gone, unaccompanied, down the only road he’s ever known?
- What’s the best way to get The Kinks’ Ray Davies to stop talking?
- Rank the following, in order of likelihood: Chumbawamba will get up again; Mariah Carey will be there; iNi Kamoze still has money to burn; Foreigner’s Lou Gramm knows what love is.
- Who became lizard king (or possibly queen) when Jim Morrison died?
- Why did Steve Perry leave Journey?
- The Grateful Dead is poised to release 12 CDs’ worth of material from the band’s upcoming “farewell” concerts. If you were to listen to every existing Grateful Dead live recording, how long would it take?
- What is the best record Huey Lewis never played on?
- What keeps people coming to Bob Dylan’s live shows?
1. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and to a lesser extent Ringo Starr.
2. The most recent official count dates to 1959, when the number was set at 50 million. Sadly, a stream of embarrassing movies, half-assed studio recordings and sleepy live performances proved many of those admirers wrong. Today, it’s impossible to ascertain the number of Elvis fans who can’t be wrong. It’s likely, however, that it’s in the thousands rather than millions. (The determining factor may be one’s opinion of Moody Blue.)
3. At least 12 times, based on his confessional lyric. Coverdale acknowledges 11 of those journeys in song, but concedes even on first mention that he has been down that road before. (After all, how else would he know it so well?)
4. Praise Jimmy Page’s guitar-work on You Really Got Me.
5. Tough one, that. But let’s face it, we’ll never be rid of Mariah Carey. And a 2009 Christian-rock album suggests that Lou Gramm found love in Jesus Christ (or a new agent). As for iNi Kamoze, his most recent release is a remix of Here Comes the Hotstepper, so we’ll assume money is rather tight. And Chumbawamba… What did they do again?
6. There appears to have been no line of succession established. Pretenders to the throne since King Jim’s passing have included Burton Cummings, Patti Smith, Ian Astbury and that guy from The Tea Party. (Not the American political movement; the far more despicable Canadian rock band.) But it appears Morrison may have been the last of the lizard monarchs. Similarly, no acknowledged king has been crowned since the 1999 death of Al Hirt. This may be in part because it was never clear precisely of what Al Hirt was the king. (On the other hand, there have almost certainly been several Kings and Queens of Kensington since the loss of Al Waxman 14 years ago.)
7. He stopped believing. (But seriously, folks…)
8. Please tell me no one will ever know.
9. There have been so many. But we’ll go with Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True; Huey came dangerously close to appearing on the first Elvis record. (Elvis, incidentally, has also claimed to be “king” of some unspecified domain. Presumably, he still holds that title.)
10. Stumps me, that one. Sorry. The same reason they continue to give Van Morrison a chance, I suppose.
How did you do? If you scored, oh I don’t know, better than 5 out of 10, you are a rock and roll scholar. If, however, you got only the Ray Davies question correct, that’s good enough. You, too, are a schollar.
Congratulations and thank you for playing.
Regular blogging will resume shortly.