Does Humor Belong In Music Writing?
Peaches En Randalia #1: Does Humor Belong In Music Writing?
Opening Act Penguin in Bondage: Finding Nemo On Ice
The kids went completely psychotic as soon as the lights went down. A battalion of skaters in neon colors hit the ice in a scene out of Welcome to Mary Poppins Nightmare. The lasers shot through the air in spasmodic Kuroda imitation with a wee bit of Waful for good measure. Meanwhile, parents throughout the near sell out (?!) arena were ducking swords and popcorn and stuffed fish and overpriced never-to-be-read programs and plastic Nemo cups filled with shaved ice and flavored Kool-Aid Liquid Speed. I hid under my seat and let my two year old son, Conor, stand on top of his adjoining seat while I sucked back a few brews and surfed the net on my laptop. The action on the ice was chaotic, cataclysmic and toxic towards any parent within two miles of the joint. Butheyin the end, the kids loved it and my wife laughed out loud with a very hearty roar as the skaters continued their wild dance around the ice with fake imagery out of a fake ocean that shook the memory cells in the old rotting cranium receptacle back to NYE 1993 when Phish played a show in an aquarium and The Prank acquired new dimensions as a new, expanding generation took a plunge into the beautiful Gamehendge watersnever to surface again into the world as they knew itand, furthermore, this was my sons 10/31/95 as Phish wore their second Halloween musical costume and played The Whos Quadrophenia for the ages: Drowned, again.
I dove back under the seat to continue my hypocritical, second rate anti-Gonzo crusade:
I am not going to be a part of this story. No way. No how. Havent we seen this damn Nemo movie enough at home? Whose idea was this?
Yours, responded my wife hammering the parental death sentence.
Ohyou couldve talked me out of it, I feebly mumbled between nacho dips in a substance that was allegedly cheese but appeared like a gooey substance found in the Jurassic Eradino bird poop. The beer was shockingly imported, tasty and, eventually, the ice imagery seemed to make sense as they continued their wild Nemo jaunt. Cheers.
SETBREAK (_or prolonging the interminable madness_)
Geez, wheres the caped stat man? Wheres that damn JJ with his laptop? Wheres the God? Wheres Benj chasin down some bit of jam trivia? Wheres good ole G bouncin towards grub and a chocolate milk? Wheres the damn bunnies?! Yummy. I shook myself from my Phish daydream imagery from yesteryear and sat back upon my seat.
SET II (_or Huh?!_)
Alas, my wifes massive jocularity shook me out of my Scrooge-like melancholic trance.
What is so funny? I asked. We were being bombarded with show tunes, primary colors, masculine-challenged blokes and young, shapely nubile women with their skin tight outfitsandanderase that randy thoughtandBloody HELL.
Some chap had come out on the ice dressed as Goofy on skates and well
DADDY! my son yelled and pointed to the Dork Meister on the ice. DADDY!
Alright. Alright, I winced. Keep it down. (_Whose kid is this?_)
DADDY! he continued to yelp and point to Dr. Goofinstein on the ice.
I went back under my seat and pondered the Jammyssoonsoonthis Private Little Nemo Vietnam will be over and Ill be hangin with Dweezil Zappa. Stay calm.
What?! MeGoofy?! Indeed. The kid continued to point towards Goof as Dad and my wife chuckled quite loudly while sealing the deal on this fact: JUNIOR EXISTENSIALISTS THROUGHOUT THE ARENA SAW AND HEARD EVERYTHING THE IMAGINATION COULD PROVIDEand, you know something, SO DID WE back in the Days of Jam Past and as we head back onto the unpredictable road deep into the dark unknown of the 2006 live scene, lets sprinkle a little bit of that magic dust on our own grub as a reminder of the Great Musical What If?
Headliner Uncle Meat: Billy Bobs Texas
Frank Zappa will be the first artist to posthumously receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2006 Jammys in April. Ask a musician about their favorite Zappa album and if one gets a blank stare in return, the musical theory homework hasnt been done. Which brings us to Zappas famous quote and album title, Does Humor Belong in Music? Of course, it does. Perhaps, more specifically, the man was referring to his legacy i.e. Phish. The Vermont Fab Four built their Head Legions upon a Zappaesque foundation of intricate masterpieces, sublime improv magic, tight community and a wonderful live wit.
This philosophy should apply to the music writer, as well. This past weekend, the Randy Office Version II was being completed as the pending Ray twins have forced patio enclosure to increase our square footage and reduce our familial claustrophobia. During the anti-Frank Lloyd Wright, Winchester House architectural mayhem, I slapped on a recent live album by Roy Clark, Live at Billy Bobs Texas. Now, most music fans know him from the old televised slice of homegrown embarrassment called Hee Haw. This is incredibly unfortunate. If I ask a serious guitarist what one thinks of Roy Clark, most of the time the response I get is oh, hes really good. One of the best. And thats the hook. You have to funnel as many different influences as possible down the creative gullet to keep the jam scene alive but you also need to know when to draw the line. Humor has its place but so does serious picking. Contrarily, do you want humor in music? Pick up some Live Zappa with the Mothers of Invention from 1968 and have your steely grin and musical goodies all in one awesome display of genius showmanship.
You want humor in music Part II? Listen to Roy Clarks performance on the recent Live at Billy Bobs Texas and see how he expertly balances on a tightrope between wacky cornball jokes and extraordinary guitar heroics. This ancient venue is the home of the worlds original indoor rodeo. Some of the stars that have played there were Caruso, Bob Hope and Elvis Presley (not all in one night, I presume, like some extremely trippy Bonnaroo for the Bingo Heads: Weve got a fine show planned for you, tonight, folks. First, we have the Eyetalyan singer, Karusho; then, weve got Mr. Robert Gosh Darn Hope. Yes! How ya feelin? Lets hear it! Finally, one for the ladies, Elvis Humperdink).
The live Clark goods are the finest kind, indeed. One minute, Clark is laying down the licks and quips with Thank God and Greyhound, the next, ripping through the heavy metal thunder of Riders in The Sky, onto the surreal goosebump country pop of I Never Picked Cotton, further on, hes tossing out jokes to the crowd before rolling through absolutely moving moments like Moscow Nights and Laras Theme (from the David Lean film, Dr. Zhivago) before twisting back through the corn fields of hokum with Salty Dog Blues and, finally, resting in the bedrock brilliance of Yesterday When I Was Young. Put that live magic in your hetty pipe and smoke it, dude.
You want humor in music Part III? What does all of this have to do with Jambands.com, man, Frank Zappa, for crissakes and what criminally insane madman let you write a column?! Trust me (and, bless him, Lord Budnick, NoB.S., Ph.D., J.D., MD, CPA, EMT, TCM, MLB, the Cure for Cancer). I dont know where Im going this year but, somehow, the tripll be exciting and memorable on the Kerouacian music-stained road. I promise to keep an open mind and fresh copies of Zappa, Phish and Clark in the noggin to remember that delicate dance between creativity, humor, spontaneity and twisted cartoon characters floating across the ice in their own little existential daydreams. This eccentric beast will focus upon what makes music loose, funky and intellectual when the heads go psychotic as the lights dim and the new digital delay loops circulate
_Randy Ray stores his work at www.rmrcompany.blogspot.com