The 5 Most Overrated Male Musicians, Part Two
Last time around, I started quite a conversation about the merits, or lack thereof, of Pink Floyd and Bob Marley.
Now we're dispatching three additional sacred musical cows to the slaughterhouse:
#3: Stevie Wonder
At the risk of wandering into Elvis Costello territory -- yes, he really did say this -- I'm gonna come right out with it:
If Stevie Wonder wasn't black and blind, there's no way he'd be as highly esteemed as he is.
A white guy who named himself "Wonder" would never hear the end of it. Instead, we never hear the end of Stevie's songs, especially on American Idol.
OK, so that's not his fault, but you know what is?
Besides The Secret Life of Plants and "I Just Called To Say I Love You" and "Ebony and Ivory"?
The song below.
I'm indebted to David Stubbs for putting my incoherent dislike of Songs in the Key of Life into words:
"Isn’t She Lovely" transcribes to vinyl every last icky-cooing dollop of sentimental gloop to which once-sentient adults are reduced when they have babies and, true to the album’s form, lasts longer than purgatory. Several minutes into this, with no light at the end of the tunnel of choruses, King Herod seems like one of the Bible’s more engaging and reasonable characters. "I Wish" contains the most ridiculously misty-eyed and excruciatingly doggerel-ridden reminiscence on childhood.
The Doors are like certain Twilight Zone episodes or The Shawshank Redemption:
Really deep and profound -- if you're 12 years old.
Jim Morrison's lyrics -- sorry, I mean "poetry" -- are, well, let this guy say it:
Jim Morrison wrote a lot of poetry, and most of it was (...) pretentious, regrettable, faux-intellectual diarrhea. Reading Jim Morrison the poet is like watching a shirtless SAE pledge strumming James Blunt on his old acoustic in the university commons during spring break: totally insufferable, uninspiring, and distasteful.
By the way: the dude who wrote that is a fan of The Doors.
I can almost understand old hippies staying fond of The Doors for nostalgic reasons.
What I can't comprehend are the teenagers and college students who love their overblown, empty-calorie noise.
Jim Morrison's "Romantic" affectations were simply a flimsy cover for his interpersonal obnoxiousness.
He got away with a lot of rude, obscene garbage because he presented himself an an "artiste."
And then he died, which, as the old joke goes, was a great career move, because you can see from his mug shot that he was doomed to get really fat in short order.
Who the hell calls himself "the Lizard King," anyhow?
Especially since all his songs and "poems" about snakes sound like they were written by a guy who'd never actually seen one.
Again, I cede the floor to David Stubbs:
He was congratulated for shedding a beam of black light on the sunshine Sixties scene. However, his doggerel visions of what might lie beyond if we were to be really intense enough to break through and find out, was just as drivel-addled as any Aquarian age nonsense, a lyrical world of crystal ships and snakes and reptile kingdoms and snakes and ancient lakes and girls of low morals and snakes – basically, the banal lexicon of the tattoo parlour brought to life.
Oliver Stone is one of their biggest fans.
What more do I need to say?
#1: Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen is a pompous blowhard whose overwrought, arrested-adolescent lyrics make Jim Morrison sound like Philip Larkin.
And like Morrison, he wrote about stuff he knows nothing about -- like having a real job -- and, like both Morrison and Stevie Wonder, he gave himself a ridiculous "penis" nickname: "The Boss."
The only reason "Because the Night" is good is because Patti Smith co-wrote it.
Long ago, I read in a British music magazine that Springsteen used to hire actors as medics and ambulance drivers, to drag him off the stage at the end of one of his "exhausting" three-hour concerts.
If that's not true, it should be.
I'm not alone in my hatred of Bruce Springsteen, which had simply been garden-variety dislike until a) he cheated on his wife and b) he started getting really stupidly and outspokenly political during the Bush years.
This guy's "10 Reasons I Hate Bruce Springsteen" is an instant classic. (And yes, Neil Young's song for Philadelphia was far superior.)
But as usual, it took an Englishman to give Springsteen the thrashing he deserves:
Someone like Tom Waits makes me feel like I understand America a little better. Springsteen makes me feel hopelessly estranged from the place with his hyperventilating soap operas about young lovers riding outta this one-horse town on the back of a hurricane down the highway of dreams. (...)
His lyrics are wrought from overcooked high school poetry ("we ride through mansions of glory on suicide machines"), homespun hokum, and the York Study Notes to John Steinbeck.
Springsteen appeals to the eternal adolescent in every rock fan, but not the fun, irreverent version, rather the inner Holden Caulfield, earnestly searching for ANSWERS and TRUTH, desperate to be a hero in the drama of his own life, utterly incapable of laughing at himself or the world.
Oh, and then there's that "Santa Clause Is Coming to Town" cover.
Unlike a lot of Bruce-haters, I don't object to Springsteen's fans at all. I love rabid fandom.
I just don't think Bruce Springsteen deserves his.
Coming Next Week: The 5 Most Overrated Female Musicians