Monday, February 4, 2008

The Positive Choice

I can be brutal. When it comes to music, this characteristic is actually heightened. And, unlike most people who merely like what they like and let it go, I am something of a missionary. My fervor can only really be measured if I have converts. I will show you why you are WRONG.

Of course, I am also prone to abruptly changing my mind and embracing an artist or song that I'd shunned. So I can be maddening in that regard.

Perfect example.

Counting Crows. I literally have a special furnace in my soul that burns with hatred and scorn for this band 24/7 365. From the bullshit ends of his hair extension corn rows to the faux depth of his intentionally coffee stained notebook of trite observations dressed up in bathos and self-pity to resemble searing truths about human nature, I HATE COUNTING CROWS.

To me, they rode the coat tails of my favorite artists and got rich trotting out cheap knock offs of true masterpieces. If you think 'Mr. Jones' is deep, try 'Here Comes a Regular' on for size. 'Mr. Jones'. Sheesh. Give me a fucking break.

Here's what I want to say to Adam Duritz. YOU ARE LYING. This whole song is a lie. It reminds me of acting class, where over and over actors are reminded to PLAY THE SCENE not play the EMOTION. That song asks us to fetishize Adam Duritz' self-pity the same way he does. Well, I ain't gonna do it, Adam. If you think you are so lame that you need fake dreadlocks to appear cool, then I think so too. If 'round here' is so lame and stupid, I'm holding you personally responsible.

Don't get me wrong...I love a great song about despair. It's like the old saw about pornography - I know it when I see it. What is that line in my taste that makes me almost cry with empathy and sympathy when Paul Westerberg draws a picture of disillusionment but I want to poke Adam Duritz in his stupid eye and tell him to get over it? I don't know, but I know it when I see it.

Wait, you say, this post is titled 'The Positive Choice'...what's going on? Well, here's the rub. I still can heave up oceans of derision for Counting Crows. But a side story will shed some further light...

In the fall of 2000 I did a show in Stamford, CT called 'Side Man'. It tells the story of the child of a disastrous marriage between an alcoholic and a jazz musician. The child grows up terrorized by the disfunction. I was the narrator, i.e. the child as adult. Needless to say, the show is dark. As the narrator I had to bounce back and forth from child to adult, from immediate impact to lifelong scar.

My strategy in preparing to go onstage was to get myself into as good a mood as possible while simultaneously listening to music that tore at my heartstrings. This sort of primed the pump but kept it bottled up at the same time. Then when I needed to explode it was ready to go. My pre-show prep was especially important because once I stepped on stage, I never came off until intermission and curtain.

My girlfriend had sent me a mix CD that I'd been listening to a good deal and since it was a meaningful personal gift, it began to be the primary CD. There was a song on the second side that she had included by, you guessed it, Counting Crows. It was called 'A Murder of One'.

This song KILLED me. In writing this post I couldn't remember the title of the song so I had to go look at their website and figure it out and look it up and read the lyrics and all that. As I read them I got a lump in my throat.

Now, how do I reconcile my harsh words about a band that has moved me to tears? I don't know. I can't.

Here are the truths.

I hate Counting Crows. The whole aesthetic of the music makes me cringe and feel embarassed.

Their song 'A Murder of One' is perfect and makes me cry.

That's as positve a choice as I can make.

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