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Thursday, June 10, 2004

Yes, when musicians die, it means something

As I'm sure you know, Ray Charles died today. BlondeSense deals with it simply and well.
One of the commentors said something that hurt me, about how the media types just sort of summarized his accomplishments and it made it seem so small. He was a mountain of a man and a positive force and we can imagine our lives without what he brought to them, but we don't want to.
I can relate. I figured Ray Charles was coming, and while I like him, he isn't the closest to my heart or anything. But I can relate to how something can be so profound to you and yet just pass the mass media by.
I remember the day Dee Dee Ramone died. The Ramones are hands down, without a doubt, my favorite band. When Joey died, it was upsetting, but not a surprise, since he had been sick. But Dee Dee was okay, he just overdosed on a drug that he had supposedly kicked.
I was in the car, trying to drive home. They announced his death and all the air sucked out of the car. I rolled down the window, so I could breath. The DJ was sad, but in that breezy, media way. She said, "Aw, he was a great bassist." Yeah, fair enough.
And then the other DJ said something like, "The Ramones were a band from the 70's, blah blah, you can hear their influence on bands like Green Day and Offspring."
FUCK!
How could he say that? He made it seem like they were nothing, an anomaly, a strange little band with one hit that happened to be an influence on retro-punk bands THAT I HATE. The Ramones were not a random happenstance of a band, they were a revolution. There are alot of bands that snotty people prefer to point to as the beginning of the revolution that was punk, all good bands, bands like the Stooges, the MC5, the Velvet Underground. But the Ramones are another beast entirely. They did two very unique things--they made the whole thing about pop and they made the punk revolution real and accessible.
The Ramones are one of those bands that's sort of everywhere and yet not so it's hard to get a chance to listen to them. Alot of friends of mine have poo-poo'd my obsession, and then after I pelt them with the Ramones they suddenly see the light. They are one of those few bands whose appeal is hard to pin down, they truly have a certain je nais se qui. And yet once the penny drops, they wind into your mind and there they stay. One friend asked for a copy of the song "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg". Another drunkenly confessed that he had been listening to them endlessly on the sly. My boyfriend learned all their great riffs. An ex-boyfriend wrote me a letter, thanking me for showing him how great the Ramones are.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Why not have the bass player play the same line as the guitarist? It seems simple now, but once it was very, very weird.
What does this have to do with Ray Charles? Nothing, except that his death, coupled with Reagan's, and coupled (tripled?) with something Elayne Riggs tossed in as almost an aside, I've been thinking alot about how much the death of a celebrity means to an individual.
More thoughts to come.

7 Comments:

Blogger Elayne said...

Thanks for the plug, and for acknoweledging that "almost." Lennon's death was a tremendous personal blow to me, particularly coming so soon after Reagan's election. I don't think I, or the country, have yet to recover from that 1-2 sucker punch to our spiritual and progressive growth. I still think Carter was the best president in my lifetime, and if he hadn't coddled the Shah which led to the Repubs' October Surprise tricks I believe this country might have become a lot fairer to a lot more people and we would never have had the Reagan counter-revolution.

6/11/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

I'm guessing that Carter probably has roughly the same take as you on that.

6/11/2004

 
Blogger BlondeSense Liz said...

I was a huge Ray Charles fan all my life believe it or not. I also loved the Ramones. Their music was simple and to the point yet it conveyed a tremendous amount of energy and joy. It was an explosion.

When Lennon died, it was probably my darkest celebrity death hour and it still hurts me when I think of it. Nothing moved me like his death (except for my mom, dad and brothers death of course).
because I was deeply attached to his music and his ideals.

Music is so much a part of our culture growing up. It defines us as people and as a generation. Who we listened to defined our philosophy! You can tell a lot about a person by who they listen to and who they admire in music. Same with Presidents. But even more so in music. We can become much more involved with musical artists than politicians because real musical artists come without the "spin". (not talking about pop artists here)

I'm a singer songwriter and I guess I come across as a femnist in my music. It wasn't my intention at all, but at the end of my sets, I have women come up to me all the time and thank me! Men do too.. well my songs are funny when I point out how stupid men are when they fuck women over. Women throw tampons at me when I sing Premenstrual Blues. heh.
I do a loungey bossa nova version of "I Wanna Be Sedated" in my act too.

But anyway... music is and will always be what defines generations.

Rock on!

6/11/2004

 
Blogger Steve Westphal said...

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10/22/2005

 
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11/19/2005

 
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