I know many musicians. Good ones, not so good ones, absolute great ones, and famous ones who are some of the aforementioned but not necessarily among the great. They all have one thing in common though: they find their way during their busy rock and roll lifestyles to find me.
You’d think, after all the years I’ve known these people, they’d know better by now. I mean, janitors find their way around me after meeting me a time or two. But these people? I’ve known many of them for years but they keep coming back. I’m not saying they’re stupid. No, that would be rude to my friends. I like to say that hearing loss has caught up with them so they lose some of the nuances of my vocal pattern.
I find that not only kind but generous.
I’m talking to this guy who you may have had plastered on your wall, alphabetized in CD cabinet, or prone in a tour bus some years ago (depending on your age and proximity to their show locations). But the years since his big time have been bumpy. He’s never stopped playing but the thrill of hearing new songs on the radio has ebbed some.
We’re discussing how he can revive his career. He’s done some ‘reunion’ shows with the band but they’ve hated each other for longer than any of them can remember. That doesn’t mean they don’t dust off the fabric enhanced spandex from time to time if the money is good but sustaining a tour brings out the worst in all of them.
No, he’s looking for something different. Something that will keep his creative juices bubbling second but make codpiece loads of cash first. We’ve already gone over session work, advertising work, 9-5 work, but none of that is satisfying to his artistic nature. I, because I am a professional, stifle a giggle at the nature of art comment (as I do each time I hear it) and leap headlong into a solution.
By that I mean, as you know, I try to bruise his artistic nature so quickly he throws a hissy fit and tosses back what’s left of his once long, luxurious locks and storms out of the room. He has his needs, I have mine.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy. But I bore easily. I will help you, if I can, with most things. I’m stupid but can deduce situations while also being able to lift heavy things. A good guy to have in your corner or so I’ve been told. It’s when I hear the same thing over and over while coming up with solutions I get short.
So I tell him he’s looking at it all the wrong way. He knows how to play every friggin’ song since 1967 so why doesn’t he use that?
“There’s some serious cash in kids music.”
Well, you’d have thought I’d suggest he bring the songs of Charles Manson out of mothballs and into your local churches and synagogues. He’s screaming about Raffi and Teletubbies and Wiggles but I remained steadfast in my belief.
“No, kids don’t want that shit anymore. They want to rock out with their binkies out!” I lay out my plan to a skeptical audience (told you musicians weren’t stupid). “Because they don’t have a history of music in their tiny and soft craniums, you can fill it with covers if you change the lyrics slightly.”
I can tell by his expression he has no idea where I’m going. I’m proud to say that made two of us. I do shit like this all the time. I talk ‘concepts’ to the edge without any idea how many rabid gerbils (don’t scoff at rabid gerbils folks!) are waiting for my soft and doughy flesh.
But yet I forge ahead.
“All you have to do is use the classics in your head, fuck with the lyrics some and, tada! You are the next big kid star.”
Still skeptical (this time I’m not saying it’s because he’s smart in any way. This time I’m saying it because he’s fucking lazy. I hate having to do ALL the work) I sally forth.
“Let’s use, ah, Back In Black as an example.”
“I kill Back In Black.”
“Yeah I know. That’s why I mentioned it. Stop doing that stupid air guitar shit. It’s annoying and you look like an ass.”
Hey! If I’m doing all the work I’m allowed to kick a rung or six out from under rock gawds!
“But I don’t get it.”
I said “Uh huh.” to buy some time. I had to think of something and I know my brain hates that. So I went with the first thing I thought of,
I crack the sack
Sharing it wif my chillin’ cub pack
I let loose
‘Cause my homies dig those tracks
He’s my muse
With the stories that I shout about”
I stop there because, well, the government makes me. I look at him, he looks at me and neither one cares. But he’s the first to blink. I’m not sure if it’s neurological but the dude does blink a lot.
“Of course, that’s just free stylin’, as they say. I know the cadence isn’t on but I’m sure you could pull it off if you thought about it.”
I smile a smile that, to me, says, “Now fuck off! Haven’t I signaled enough that I’m done with you?”
I’m not sure what it said to him but he did rise to his feet, offer his hand in friendship and say,
“Why do I talk to you?”
“Because I’m the only person left you don’t owe money to?”
He laughs and we bid each other adieu. As he’s leaving I hear him chuckle and watch him nod his head saying, “Children’s songs. Out his fucking mind!”
As he exits the room I stand there for a few seconds and think,
“I bet that fucker steals my idea!”
So if, at your next children’s party, you see some has been asshole singing classic rock songs with kid friendly lyrics, go up to that guy and say,
“Chris says hi.”
Don’t be concerned if he feigns confusion about the theft or who I am. He’s not trying to erase me from history. He truly doesn’t remember.
Rock stars, ya know.