Call it whatever you will, but the greatest thing about living in what is currently the hipster-mecca of the world is the downright flood of music that comes through this town. Portland is big enough to get all the major acts, small enough to get all the new acts, and cool enough that every band in the country wants to stop through on their runs out West. As any on-the-beat PDXer will tell you, the greatest thing about living 3 hours away from the Sasquatch Music Festival is that every band there will play a much longer, more intimate, and better show in Portland within the same week as the festy. More details to come soon, but in just over a week’s time I saw the greatest up-and-coming band on the scene – Snarky Puppy, the greatest jam-shred legend of our modern age – Trey Anastasio, the greatest living legends of jazz and funk – Medeski, Martin, & Wood, – and the greatest… well, just the fuckin’ greatest – Prince. And Prince was in the largest venue of all 4 bands with a capacity of 1300. If those 4 acts were listed together on any festival lineup this Summer, shit would be popping the hell off. And oh yeah, this week we’ve got Local Natives, Marnie Stern, Dr. Dog, and Dawes. It’s hard to friggin’ keep up. And oh yeah, after I stood 20 feet away from “Purple Rain” last night I walked directly across the street to the greatest Barcade of all time and posted high scores on Mrs. Pac-Man, Burgertime, Dr. Mario, Frogger, and Rampage. Yeah, it was a good night. So sure, nobody has any clue how to drive an automobile out here, and generally the entire citizenry are the most passive-aggressive bastards you’ve ever met, but for an East Coast music nerd like myself Portland certainly has its perks.
In case you haven’t been following this, the musical genius formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince performed on Jimmy Fallon last Friday. He and his new brand-new all-chick band fucking destroyed that little studio… in more ways than one. First off, they sounded incredible. I’m not as much on the “Screwdriver” bandwagon as some of these other folks who think the song is phenomenal, but he did shred the living shit out of it. And then he and the band totally crushed the living hell out of his 1979 shred-attack song, “Bambi”. And then he literally smashed the beautiful 1961 Epiphone Crestwood guitar he was playing – throwing it up in the air and letting it slam down on its neck. Rock star move to say the least. Except the guitar wasn’t his. It was actually The Roots’ Captain Kirk’s beautiful baby, that Prince has asked to borrow for the show after he saw it at rehearsal. And according to Kirk’s twitter feed, Prince didn’t really seem to give a fuck about the destruction, and totally negged Kirk Douglas when the Captain asked him to at least sign the remaining bits of his axe. Total asshole move by Prince, but here’s what’s really interesting…
Douglas seems to be taking this all in stride, and I’ve been trying to figure out the reason why. I suppose that one of the advantages of playing in the band on a nationally syndicated talk show is that perhaps the network has some sort of liability for your instruments. So it’s quite likely that Captain Kirk will at least be compensated for his destroyed guitar. But I think the main reason he doesn’t appear to be flipping the fuck out is that he loves Prince. Douglas himself is a master of the guitar, and the Roots have always walked the line between rock, soul, rap, and R&B – essentially the same model of musical influences that Prince based his career on. As a musician myself, I can thus somewhat understand the significance of having this story for the rest of your life about one of your heroes destroying your shit, and how that may be a better thing to carry through life than the actual object itself. If Dave Brubeck had ever come over to my house, lifted up the back of my piano and just taken a massive old-man shit in there, there’s no doubt that I would be telling that story at least once a week for the rest of my life. But the question remains of whether in the grand social order of reality, did he actually have the right to do that? Is Prince just so much in his own reality that he doesn’t really give a fuck about anything? Or is he so confident of his influence on other black soul guitarists that he thinks it’s totally within his resolve to destroy their shit? Like he just knew that there would be no reciprocation from his act. You know, like he’s just gonna say: “What, I’m fucking Prince – do you really want to abandon all respect you have for me and tell me that I owe you a new guitar?” The question I’m really asking is – has any musician given so much to the world that he actually has the right to do whatever the fuck he wants? And honestly, I’m somewhat torn on the answer. I definitely feel that Prince has more right to brake somebody’s guitar than a Nazi pedophile has a right to be the Pope… so, you know – street cred is a powerful argument. Either way, Prince is definitely an asshole, but maybe that’s OK.
Well, we’re 24 hours past the dawn of the rapture and things seem to be functioning properly. I presume that most of you, like myself, have already paid our $10 registration fee at www.aftertherapturepetcare.com- yep, its’ real. Sine JC hasn’t come and swept me up yet – what, occasional Christmas and Easter visits to the local Protestant church weren’t enough for you big man?!? – well, since that hasn’t happened yet, I decided to post my Top 5 songs about the End of the World. Now I’ve excluded some of the popular hits – R.E.M. just seemed way too obvious, although that is probably one of my favorite songs of theirs. And although I won’t deny my love for the girl, I decided best to not throw in Britney Spears’ hot new club banger – it’s not even really that bad, just not my thing. And sure, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” could probably be considered as well as a lot of others, but I really tried to take this top 5 list a little more literal. The Cure released a tune called “End Of The World” in 2004 but it kinda blows, which tempted me to put “Just Like Heaven” on the list instead…but then I decided I’ll just save that for a future blog about how awesome The Cure are. So without further ado, here’s my Top 5 End of the World tracks starting with #1.
#1 – U2 “Until The End of the World” - Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of Bono and the boys from the Emerald Isle, but this track’s pretty fucking huge. Edge rocks the echo thing perfectly, killer beat, killer lyrics. My top apocalypse croon-along.
#2 – Skeeter Davis “The End of the World” – Now the Carpenters had a much bigger hit with this track 10 years or so after Skeeter put her rather awesomely normal vocals on it. Karen’s voice is probably a touch more soothing, but fuck Karen Carpenter – she doesn’t get spots on my lists. Yeah, that’s right. It’s the end of the world, no holding back.
#3 – Prince “1999″ - I mean c’mon… this puppy’s gotta be on there. Not as literal as the others, but whatevs…Crappy audio here, sorry Prince deletes shit.
#4 – Wilco “You Never Know” – 2009′s Wilco The Album was somewhat of a letdown. Things got a little too beige for my boy Jeff Tweedy on that album, and not too many songs even really stood out. But this one grabbed me from the get-go and the first line is one of my all-time favorites of his.
#5 – Nick Cave (I’ll Love You) Til The End of The World – Shit man, sometimes Cave feels like the most bad-ass dude on the planet, and this tune’s just such a case. It’s hard for a quasi-spoken word song to be something you want to listen to regularly, but this one’s a killer.