Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year's Tale Of Two Rock Stars

By Manifesto Joe

I'm not a well-traveled person, having been limited by early poverty and then by later responsibility. But I got around as much as I could; and there are two incidents I recall, each involving rock stars, that seem revealing as to the general direction in which Western culture has been drifting.

Many years ago, my wife and I were walking on a summer night in Deep Ellum -- for those unfamiliar, that was the bohemian district of Dallas in those days. We were just trolling around for cheap entertainment and something good to eat. I remembered that Paul McCartney had played a gig in Reunion Arena that night.

We saw a long black limo cruising by slowly. A back-seat window went down, and a man flashed a V "peace" sign at those of us strolling on the sidewalk. We got the briefest glimpse of the face, and it hit us that this was Sir Paul McCartney. His driver had apparently taken him to what was reputed to be the "hip" part of town, and he gave us a small salute.

Then there was this other time I have in mind. We were on the freeway between Dallas and Fort Worth, and a long limo with a sunroof passed my economy car on the left. A long-haired blond man popped through the sunroof, shirtless, waving to everybody around him on the freeway, posturing and appearing to be singing, or at least talking loudly and stridently.

I remembered that Van Halen had played a gig that night at Reunion Arena. I looked again, and saw the mane of windblown blond hair and the brash face. It was David Lee
Roth. He kept waving to his many fans on the freeway, on his way to some party that would surely take him one more small step toward oblivion.

Perhaps one could argue that it's almost obligatory for rock stars to do decadence. But Jim Morrison did that with much more class and style, and he's even regarded as having been a poet of some substance. No one will ever accuse David Lee Roth of that.

Anyway, we recall Sir Paul much more fondly, even though some of his solo music has been cheesy. And yes, David Lee Roth is now struggling for gigs. But there have been many similar "artists" to take his place for short times. It seems like folks could be more discriminating in their pop culture taste. Some of the "idols" clearly don't last.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


harleyblues said...

well what did you say to Macca? and I would never consider Paul chessy. lol

Marc McDonald said...

A lot of people have hated Paul's output during his solo career.
But I think the main problem for Paul has been a lack of quality control.
His albums contain gems if you're willing to sift through the sub-par material.

Another problem is that he (or, more likely, his record company) have often insisted
on releasing the weakest tracks off his albums as singles. And several of his fine songs
never appeared on an album at all (which tends to leave them lost to obscurity
more than if they'd appeared on an album).

I remember when I first heard the Wings album, "London Town." I remember really
enjoying songs like "Deliver Your Children" and "I'm Carrying" (both pop classics).
I recall being surprised when the single released from the album turned
out to be the mediocre "With A Little Luck" (which was so weak, that I
suspect it led a lot of people to not bother buying the album).

Anyway, for anyone who doesn't think Paul's solo career has had moments
of brilliance, here are 10 songs that prove otherwise:

1. "Jet" (from the "Band on the Run" album).
2. "Junior's Farm" (hard-rocking non-album single).
3. "Let Me Roll It" (Paul brilliantly pays tribute to the Plastic Ono Band).
4. "Maybe I'm Amazed" (from the "McCartney" album).
5. "Waterfalls" (from the "McCartney II" album).
6. The entire "Ram" album....a pop masterpiece.
7. "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" (a non-album single banned by the BBC).
8. "Hi Hi Hi" (another non-album single banned by the BBC).
9. "Letting Go" (from the "Venus and Mars" album).
10. "Take It Away" (from the "Tug of War" album).

dr sardonicus said...

Ah, those were the days. Surely you weren't suggesting that David Lee Roth would have been better off if he had died at 27 like Morrison? Roth was a dick, but he was a talented dick. Compare Van Halen's output with Roth to their work with Sammy Hagar for the proof. It took me a long time to admit this.

I can't say too much bad about McCartney. If there's any artist in any genre who's earned the right to rest on his laurels, it's him. Marc's list is excellent.

Happy New Year.

Manifesto Joe said...

Re Paul: Remember that I said "some" of his solo work has been cheesy. He's shown from time to time that he's still got it. But the Beatles seemed to be a symbiotic and holistic phenomenon. Together they seemed greater than the sum of their parts. I don't think Lennon was as great or as consistent from 1970 on, though he could still hit the mark now and then. Rivalry may have ultimately killed the group, but it seemed to fuel creativity.

Re Roth: Some people might argue that he was dead de facto at 27. Naw, just kidding. You have a point that Van Halen was a better band with Roth as the frontman. But the reason he was replaced, I've read, is that the others in the band couldn't stand to work with him.

Anyway, that Morrison succumbed to his vices at 27, and Roth is still more or less with us, demonstrates the capriciousness of human fortunes. But, some have argued that death was a great career move for Morrison. He was already graying and getting fat in the last year of his life.

dr sardonicus said...

But the reason he was replaced, I've read, is that the others in the band couldn't stand to work with him.

Eddie Van Halen on Roth after he left the group: "I can't believe I spent the last 12 years of my life in the same band with that asshole."