Grandaddy: The Common Core Of American Ethics (For Sale! Cheep!)

What is it about the American culture that we receive great gifts from our citizenry (for these purposes, let’s focus on the Creative American) and celebrate them, hail them throughout the land…for about 12 minutes. Not even the 15 that Warhol promised us. Hippie.

 

And then we pack their bag and send them to Europe to import some circa 00’s American awesomeness. And watch these well attended Euro shows via YouTube.

 

It ain’t right. I don’t blame the musicians. I don’t blame myself. I hold you a little responsible, but you know…we have that thing, you and me.

 

Today’s example is one of my fave bands, Grandaddy. Cause seriously, you couldn’t find a more American band. They came to me through a phrase I have never forgotten. Grandaddy was described as ‘Stoned Landscapers with an ELO obsession.’ I mean…come on. That’s JpK bait right there. They were much more than this, of course. That description sounds almost like a suburban punk band, versus the best excuse for progressive rock since ‘Close To The Edge’.

 

So let’s start there. Grandaddy is an American Rock Band. You cannot find their roots in the places you find American Roots Music. There is no blues, no country. It is Rock Music. Forged from Rock Music and raised up on Rock Music.

 

What nails the nationality of this group of weirdoes’ is their values. Good American Values. Based on self loathing, slacking and technology addictions. Songs about Sad Datsuns and androids achieving A.I. and celebrating with a drink…which fries their circuits in a visible flash or about riding their bike to their step sister’s wedding (which sounds as depressing as it reads).

 

They are singing our song about our peccadilloes as Americans and they are forced to play them for Swedes or some such horror. That’s not America. (I mean Sweden. It’s not. Look it up.)

 

So, to do my part, my due diligence as it weren’t, I implore you to find these next 5 songs on YouTube and taste American greatness as its most pure. Stoned Landscapers with an ELO obsession.

 

‘The Group Who Couldn’t Say’ – ‘Sumday’: First off,you can’t go wrong with a good hook’y ‘Doo Do Doo Do Dooo’ repeated refrain.  The first time I heard this song, it owned me. That was even before I understood the lyric. Which is about a band who gets some industry heat and the big record company machine takes over. And all the band wants is to return to Nature. Which means it is about Grandaddy. Lines like ‘ They had won some kinda prize, For selling way more stuff than the other guys, They were the shrewdest unit-movers, So their bosses got ’em tours of the countryside’ and the common Record Company schlub who needs deal with ‘ And at the desktop there’s crying sounds For all the projects due, And no one else is around And the sprinklers that come on at 3am, Sound like crowds of people asking “Are you happy what you’re doing?”

‘Jed’s Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)’ – The Sophmore Slump’: Starts with one of my favorite lines about getting drunk with a robot You said I’d wake up Dead drunk, alone in the park I called you a liar But how right you were…’ This is the continuing saga of the beloved Jed The Android and how success first infects his creators and ultimately, his self. There is a true and odd sadness in this song, desperation. It comes through the set up, through the lyrics and sits on your chest like bad thoughts do. Despite what they sing about, what he is saying is far more human evolution, versus technological innovation.

‘Everything Beautiful Is Far Away’ – Under The Western Freeway – The idea….the words are simple. Though cynical. Beauty is distance. Is the idea that nothing viewed up close is beautiful? Or beauty is an idea we will never approach the shore of?  Nope. In this case, it is about a space explorer abandoned with Earth in view. His family, his life, his very oxygen is an impossible distance. And he looks across ‘the great white expanse’ and sees swans (equally impossible) and he is ready to go. He knew he was as good as gone, But gone was somewhere he really didn’t mind going to…’. It is science fiction. It is being human too.

‘F**k The Valley Fudge’ – Excerpts From The Diary of Todd Zilla:  We have all come from somewhere. Unless you are reading this in the ether, then you need to stop reading and get born already. Damn! The rest of us, we came from someplace. Does that place look like it did? It it maybe a bit more mini-mally than you recall? Un-drivable on a weekend? Have all your child hood spots turned into parking lots? Have your parking lots turned into Subways? We all come from somewhere and the geography erodes. We remember things far past the point of memory. So fuck remembering anything. Let’s go and start some shit.:

We’ll start with that new future superstore and steal all their decorative rocks, and fight all their rent-a-cops And for the freeway maintainers who assist our escape, We’ve got sandwiches, chips, and cold Gatorade We’ll expose all the bicyclists who really are DUI students who can’t drive their cars. And we’ll take stucco dust and wet drywall sludge, combine it just right to make Fuck the Valley Fudge.’

‘The Warming Sun’ – Sumday:  One of my favorites and really as decent an update (including present day contemporary hang ups) on a Beach Boys song that has been attempted. It’s big and beautiful and heartbreaking and swells with strings and voice.  It is the story of a man who lost a girl, and he knows how and he knows why. It is a song I wish I had written based on the simple science of it. I miss you. I fucked up. You’re better off. I’ll never forget you.

In a dream
You were sitting there waiting by the door for me
And I got the opportunity
To experience the experience once again
How it could have maybe been

But in real life
You’re in another world
You’re with another guy
Who doesn’t have to cheat
And never has to lie
And all that stuff I didn’t get
Comes so easy to him
He doesn’t even have to try

But do you ever ask yourself
How it could have maybe been

I haven’t been that bad
But I haven’t been that good
Overmisunderstood
Oh I wish I really could
Enjoy the warming sun
Enjoy a warm someone
And end the need to hide
Away alone inside

No I haven’t been that bad
But I haven’t been that good
Overmisunderstood
Oh I wish I really could
Enjoy the warming sun
Enjoy a warm someone
And end the need to hide
Away alone inside

In a dream
You were sitting there waiting by the door for me

Songwriters: J LYTLE

grandaddy

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Grandaddy: The Common Core Of American Ethics (For Sale! Cheep!)

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