Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Confession From My Deepest Soul.

I am a music snob, and I make no apologies for this. If you're going to pick up an instrument and bother my ears then you better mean something pal. My music is Lou Reed painting an audio picture of the ugliness of heroin addiction. My music is Iggy Pop shoving a flower up the ass of the happy hippies of the 60's. Rage Against The Machine not taking any shit from the man, now there's some music for you. You play air-headed meaningless pop noise around me and you will be mercilessly mocked. Music when done right is the most valid of art forms and art has meaning goddamn it.

The hair bands were not art. Ratt. Poison. Motley Crue. If you lived through the late 80's you know what I'm sayin'. These poofball pretenders dominated radio and MTV airplay during my youth, and I fought their power with all the weapons an oily faced awkward adolescent could muster. I wrote a column in my high school newspaper whose sole purpose was to attack the Van Halen song "Panama." In the alpha-male pack culture that is life in a freshman college dorm hall, I was probably branded a suspected homosexual for arguing that "Girls Girls Girls" was a bigger waste of audiotape than recording your own flatulence. I never wavered in this struggle, and when Kurt Cobain came in 1992 to liberate small town red state top 40 radio from the clutches of hairspray, it was like the Messiah himself had finally arrived to lift me upward for the rapture. The hair bands have since been relegated to the dustbin of music history, where they belong.

My friends, all the while, the entire time I was fighting this fight so successfully, I had something in my closet:


That is a picture of David Lee Roth, the lead singer of Van Halen during their glory days. I own 1984, the Van Halen album which contains the song I so viciously attacked in that high school newspaper column. I also own Van Halen I and II, and I listen to them, when no one else is around and the curtains are closed. I once saw David Lee Roth perform at the Ohio State Fair after Van Halen had kicked him out of the rock and roll fast lane and into the gutter. I attended the show alone, and there were maybe 50 other people there. It was a terrible performance, and afterwards I went on a corn dog eating bender to try and forget. I secretly cheered when I heard the news that Van Halen is soon to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I am hoping against hope they won't let Sammy Hagar, Roth's pathetic pale imitation of a replacement, into the induction ceremony. Only one person in the real world knows of this part of my life, and I live in constant fear they will use this information against me. I am a hypocrite, and I am not proud. Before you judge me however, I ask only that you listen to the opening drum solo of "Hot For Teacher," not on an iPod, but on a cherry piece of vinyl through a turntable connected to speakers as tall as you are, the way it was meant to be heard. Listen, then throw the first stone if you must.

The human soul has a need to confess, and that need is why I am posting this tonight. Talk to me on the street tomorrow though, and I'll tell you Van Halen sucks, and you'll walk away convinced that I mean it.

Might as well jump.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I can appreciate your confession here. Nothing makes my finger fly to another radio station button faster than the beginning of a Van Halen song.

Of course, I can't say anything about the jumping skeletons in your closet, as among the albums in my collection by NIN, Tool, Lacuna Coil, A Perfect Circle, Slipknot, and their ilk, you'll also find Jewel's complete discography...

Anonymous said...

There are several blogs I read regularly, and from one pharmacist to another, I think you're a terrific writer. Funny you should write about music tonight because as I sit here being simultaneously horrified and thrilled by American Idol, I wonder what the Drugmonkey might think about A.I.

Any thoughts?? Have you been to audition?

BB

Carmen Sandiego said...

Interesting that you chose to mention "Hot for Teacher" as your example. Hmmm....

DrugMonkey said...

BB,

There are some cornerstones of American pop culture of which I am incredibly ignorant. American Idol is one of them, having never seen the show. I most certainly remember Paula Abdul however, as she is from the age of hair. I also think it's a good strategy for the weatherman from the Today show to diversify out into other gigs the way he has.....

DrugMonkey said...

Carmen,

My homework was never quite like this.....

Anonymous said...

We all have our secret shame. Among the Roxy Music, Harry Nilsson and Velvet Underground is waaay too much Duran Duran. Although a big part of that is the flame I still carry, 15 years later, for their bass player. If you're a child of the 80s, you just can't help it...

Pharmacist said...

You mentioned that people should be listening to speakers as tall as themselves. Are you somewhat of an audiophile? What speakers and assorted gear do you currently use?

DrugMonkey said...

pharmacist,

Somewhat of an audiophile, yes, though I don't go bat-shit crazy with it the way some people do. I think that's part of my Van Halen problem, their crap was always well recorded. Same way with the Eagles, shitty music, but man could their people record a good sound.....

I have a Stanton str8-80 turntable and a set of Infinity waist-high speakers. Someday I will upgrade. That is the curse of the audiophile, an eternal yearning for upgrade....

Anonymous said...

My 9 year old daughter saw her first VH video 2 weekends ago. She said "I think I am gonna have bad dreams."

Pharmacist said...

What amplifier are you using? Glad to hear you don't go bat-shit crazy. Not that pharmacists, yes, even pharmacists can afford to go bat-shit crazy. Leave that up to the overpaid CEOs that have really trivial un-important jobs. Anyways...

So, yeah, I'm like you. I'll listen to anything that is recorded very well. I haven't tried country yet, but I imagine if it were recorded well, I could and would listen to it. Its just amazing the crap I listen to because some recording engineer knew what the hell they were doing.

DrugMonkey said...

The Stanton has a built-in amplifier. Makes it great for doing things like hooking it up to the 'puter and making cd's of your vinyl.

If you ever want a textbook example of why some people were turned off early CD's, go find a vinyl copy of Johnny Cash Live at Folsom prison and compare it with the 1st edition CD. It's night and day.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I wanted to "say my piece and get out"
First off, love your site! The blogs are very funny. I'm NOT a Rx or an MD, heck I never even finished college! But I do have quite a good education and enjoyed most of the comments and stories on here.
I am, however, a 28 year veteran PRO guitar player. I'm into music more than anyone you've probably ever met, (unless you know a top musician yourself). Fanatical about music?...yeah, you could say that.
When you trash music, any music (except Rap which is rhyme put to a beat, NOT music) you are only expessing your opinion. ALL music is art and most of it, (even the "hairband" stuff) took quite a lot of thought and time to create. Not to mention the dedication and devotion one has to pour into an instrument to get really good at it.
It's like if your parents spent all their lives trying to make you a good honest decent person, and succeded! But in my opinion, you dress funny and look ugly to me, so I talk bad about you.
Van Halen carved a notch in rock music that few people can match. Yeah, some of the songs are sorta cheesy and the lyrics are sometimes demeaning to women, but, you can't ignore that millions of people like this type of music.
I personally liked the 80s music and still adore it, but certain bands were so cheesy it kinda makes you sick (not naming names, but, The Ramones come to mind) but still, music is music.
In the band I'm currently in we play everything from Sam & Dave to Miranda Lambert! I don't like all the songs we play, but I play them anyway, just as you wait on those @ssholes you have to deal with on your job. One difference, I get paid about $150 a week (that's on the high side) for approx. 15 hours of work.
How much do you make in 15 hours?
Would you play a song you can't stand if I paid you?
Just FYI, I couldn't deal with the kind of people you deal with daily. I'd lose my cool in 5 minutes!
Hats off to you!
Keep up the good work, and don't ever give up your website!
Cheers