Monday, July 27, 2009

Smarmy Post #637

One of the unfortunate things a person realizes after we have put a few miles on our treads is that being a celebrity does not mean you are necessarily either a smart or a nice person.

It is a good bet that the musician that you are tapping your feet to in the car was the same band dweeb with the bad acne and the braces in high school that everyone generally detested. Having chops doesn't necessarily mean that you have wisdom or emotional breadth.

We worship celebrity in our culture; witness the inordinate amount of attention paid to Michael Jackson's doctor or Madonna's adoption drama. Even the authorities regularly get caught up in the hero worship. You think they provide the same amount of investigation when something happens to a poor nameless schmuck?

The sixties troubadours were given almost mythical, mystical status, and the genuflection was even more potent, because they were pedaling some hackneyed version of Aquarius. Didn't quite work out too well, did it? But these guys could deliver some of that sweet couldn't they?

I have always maintained that the worst thing that can happen to you is to meet your heroes. I have met some of my artistic influences and the experiences, with one exception, were largely deflating. People get to be real expert at presenting a shiny public face. But you get up close and it often turns out to be paper thin.

I was listening to an interview with Steven Stills on Sirius Radio this morning and here's a case in point. Now Stills is a legendary f*ck up, his freebase struggles, his crawling around hotel lobbies naked chasing invisible cockroaches, his general wackiness are all well documented. But an amazing, gifted, singular stylist who had one of the most iconic styles and voices of his generation. Read Robert Greenfield's Bill Graham biography and the whole band are pretty much painted as petulant, self righteous assholes. Great players though, I will give you that.

The question I always have to ask myself about drunkards and addicts is "are they screwed up because the are using and drinking" or "are they using and drinking because they are screwed up?" It's a chicken and the egg conundrum but I tend to favor the latter explanation.

Anyway I guess the band is doing covers now and Stills is doing a version of North Country Fair, the song Dylan made famous. (Pete Townshend does a great version as well.) The interviewer made reference to Johnny Cash's singing of the song with Dylan and Stills said that he purposefully never listened to other people's versions and had never heard it. But in this case, Cash was singing with Dylan on the original track on Nashville Skyline. Could he really be so thick as to have never heard the song on my favorite Dylan album aside from Blood on the Tracks?

To think this guy almost copped Mike Nesmith's spot in the Monkees.

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