Sunday, August 29, 2010

Amoral Rock and Roll

I'm always hesitant to delcare something the "best" of its breed, but I've been under the impression for over fifteen years now that the greatest rock and roll album ever is The Stooges' Funhouse

Whenever I have been asked to list ten records I consider the "best," I have a basic criteria for any record to make the list.  Basically, a great rock and roll album cannot be more than 45 minutes long.  It has to be loaded with songs that you can listen to a hundred times without getting sick of.  The order has to make sense, meaning, you never get the urge to skip a track when you're listening to it.  Most importantly, as soon as the record is over, you should want to play it again, right away.  Some records that always make my list include Funkadelic's Maggot Brain, David Bowie's Low (and sometimes Diamond Dogs,) Velvet Underground's Loaded (purists cry foul here, but other VU albums have songs I skip when I listen to them,) and of course there is always a Beatles record (the older I get, the more I prefer Abby Road to all the others,) and, among others, Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (even though I personally prefer just about everything Floyd did right up to that point;  The brilliance of Dark Side, however, can't be ignored.)  Again, someone might cry foul-- What about The Clash's London Calling?  What about The Wall?  Those albums are indeed great, but they exceed my 45 minute rule.  That rule exists because rock and roll should be quick, like a knife to the kidneys.  Fittingly, the record that always makes the top of the list is Funhouse.

Funhouse is rock and roll.  It is a record that demands to be turned up as loud as possible.  As soon as the guitar drops it's vicious first notes of "Down on the Street," the listener instantly feels alive.  When I was in my late twenties I was basically a glorified delivery driver for Markey's Audio/Video in Indianapolis.  It was a shitty job.  It wore me out, physically, but it didn't tax my mind at all.  When I got home at night, I'd blast Funhouse (the uptight woman who lived in the apartment below mine always complained when I played that record) and it got me in the mood to sit down and write for three hours before going to sleep.  After the debacle that was my film "career," I realized those days of flying across Naptown highways and backroads with a scratchy cassette copy of Funhouse growling out of the speakers of the company vans and box trucks I drove and writing at night were, in fact, the best days of my life.  Better than when I was partying in my late teens and early twenties and better than when I was sowing my wild oates with the wild women of Los Angeles in my early and mid-thirties.  The entire record expressed my mood at the time.  I was living out the stupid dream of blue collar glory and putting it down on paper.  One jackass editor sent me a rejection letter in 1998 that read, 'Great writing.  Let me know when Holden Caulfield grows up and I'll publish it.'  What a piece of shit!  I wanted to grab the fucker by his throat and throttle him until his neck broke.  So many people like that turd assume there's a point where an angry man "grows up."  Well, if that happens, he wasn't ever really angry to begin with, which means he's been and always will be a fucking fake!

There's nothing fake about Funhouse.  I still listen to it when I need to remind myself that my time on Earth is to be dedicated to scorching the universe with my pissed off allergy to all things bullshit and fake.  And if I ever "grow out of it," someone put a fucking bullet in my head, because it means I'm already dead.

May Iggy Pop and the Stooges forever be blessed by the powers of chaos that make this universe explode with possibility.

2 comments:

  1. I totally agree with your criteria for what defines a "best" record, if not all your choices. Funhouse absolutely makes my list as well. And this paragraph:

    "There's nothing fake about Funhouse. I still listen to it when I need to remind myself that my time on Earth is to be dedicated to scorching the universe with my pissed off allergy to all things bullshit and fake. And if I ever "grow out of it," someone put a fucking bullet in my head, because it means I'm already dead."

    Totally punched me in the gut. I can't imagine it being said better than that. I'm listening to the record tonight. Thanks for reminding me!

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  2. Yeah, a list of ten best records is never a good idea. I listen to such a wide variety of music that at any given moment the list could be totally different. The only consistent record is Funhouse.

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