There is something particularly intimate in songs b an artist and their industry. People who create music are generally passionate about it, and the evidence of this passion is bearing constant small and large rejections, taking mega doses of Optimism X and smiling as everybody dances around you to terrible music.
I would say its almost romantic the relation tween musician and Industry, but it’s closer to God like worship and Devil fueled fears. It’s like being in love with the most popular, coldest, cruelest bastard that ever sprouted legs and walked. You are always left wanting, every day you are Last Years Model.
And we’re all dating the same chick. And one day you are in her favor. And the next day she denies your name.
So to find people kicking against the pricks in song is tradition, even if ‘song’ is the particular prick.
And of course, I love this type of song deeply. Even if you believe a singer comes off as less authentic while singing about love, when singing a bitter tribute to a record label who screwed them.
This is a big subject, worthy of a book…..but I got work in a few, so a random well loved sampling:
Pavement ‘Cut Your Hair’ – a timely guide to getting played on 120 Minutes in the early 90’s. But as relevant today as ever. And if this entire blog can be summed up in to two syllables, it is Malkmus’s sneering of the word ‘career’. He makes it sound like a joke. Which…it is, innit?
Van Morrison ‘Showbusiness’ – As far as I know, not released on anything except ‘The Philosophers Stone’ compilation, but a long, nasty, genius meditation of The Music Business cut with the perfect tone of Irish cynicism.
The Kinks ‘Rock and Roll Fantasy’ – From the Grand Statesman Hisself. This song gives me pause every time I hear it. Not simply cause its beautiful. And full of hope. But the core belief (so core its the actual title) that to dream this dream is to predict this will end poorly. Even if your the fucking Kinks.
Mott The Hoople ‘The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople’ – Mott The Hoople was on the skids when Bowie offered them ‘All The Young Dudes’. And that changed their fate considerably. After touring incessant, then a big Pop hit and endless touring, dressed like 20 year olds, being 40 year olds, feeling 100 years old. In this, lyrically the pulling apart (and simultaneously recreating) The Mott legend member by member, the real point is Ian’s voice, which sounds as weary as weary gets. It doesn’t make having a big hit record sound like that much fun.
The Replacements ‘Left Of The Dial’ – A fine slice of 1985 birth of Alternative history, but slung with enough real rock and roll and subtle lyrical imagery (Paul speaks like a Dead End Kid and it comes off like a modern James Joyce) and unhinged enthusiasm that clearly proclaims ‘We Mean It. Maaaaaaaaaaan.’
Bob Dylan ‘Positively Fourth Street’ – Which gets special notice due to the opportunity that Dylan uses the Music Industry to attack his fans. On the AM radio, even. After Dylan went electric and created an entire new form of this Rock and Roll, his folky fans turned on him. And being Dylan, it wouldn’t do to let that stand. Its viscous and totally on point.
I missed many here. I count on you, dear reader, to write my wrongs and share good F.U. songs to The Music Business.
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