Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Positive Obsessions

Last night at gayraoke (gay karaoke) I was stunned as two women and three men sang every word, every note, did the drum parts and the spoken parts to the dreadful 1987 abomination "Naughty Girls Need Love, Too". My stun turned to nausea when I realized I was one of the women. I am only able to write this because just one of us had the mic and blessedly it was not yours truly.

Your Honor, I plead guilty by reason of obsessive teen behavior to the charges of creating a public nuisance, curse and abuse (at Samantha Fox and Full Force for unleashing that demon hymn into the world), and impersonating a pouty British accent. My defense is that my co-defendants and I were teenagers when the song was released and thus had no immunity to what Billy Collins calls "a mad fan belt of a tune".

I think it is a decent defense. But I have my own bail bondsman and lawyer just in case I'm wrong.

I have a brain full of Nick Hornby which leads me to believe that obsessions are a necessary part of life. Unfortunately, I happen to know that when he wrote his most famous odes to obsession: High Fidelity, Fever Pitch, and About a Boy, Hornby was a functioning madman. I've read all three of these works in the past month as part of my grief abatement program, so as a somewhat functioning obsessive, I know of which I speak.

But let's go back to songs that grab you this time focusing on the better aspects of that phenomenon. When I hear Paul Simon I can remember the sound of my mother's record spinning in our living room. I remember rapping along with my classmates to "La-di-da-di, we like to party. We don't cause trouble; we don't bother nobody." I remember stopping what I was doing in Germany to find out who Lisa Stansfield was in 1990. I remember the first time I heard the voice of Roger Carroll, a talented local singer and saxman.

And I remember when emusic offered me a free song that they thought I might like based on previous downloads. Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of these things knows that they are hit or mostly miss. If you followed the four hyperlinks of the previous paragraph you can imagine what the iTunes genius and programs of its ilk are up against when they have to guess what I am going to like. I downloaded warily.

The song was "Crazy" by Whitey Morgan and the 78's. After a few weeks of listening to that song more and more, I downloaded three more songs by this band. Within a month I had downloaded the whole album in this day and age when whole album commitment is either a sign of abundant wealth or maniacal obsession. For me it was the latter.

Since I had become fanatical about this Flint, Michigan Honky Tonk band I decided to take the next step: I wrote a fan letter. I asked them when they thought they would get this way. That probably would have been the end of it except soon after I sent the letter I found out that they had been this way and had performed at a small place with no promotion. I sent a quick PS saying "XXXXX?!? You played at XXXXX? That's like booking George Jones at the Krispy Kreme. Look, if we can lure you back to Richmond, my friends and I will come out to party with you and we'll feed you a big ole' Southern meal at my place before the gig."

18 months later Whitey Morgan and the 78's will be playing this Saturday at the Playing Field at 7801 West Broad St. right here in river city. It didn't hurt that the booking guru at the Playing Field also contacted them. Also helpful was that the pedal steel player for Richmond's own The Chiggers, another band I love, contacted them and asked (and were subsequently invited) to open. And then their record company was nice enough to send them out on tour - it was all meant to be.

Some think that my over-the-top enthusiasm for music is a sign of a stunted maturity. I say that if maturity is keeping your ass on a comfortable couch and watching whatever pathetic pablum American TV broadcasting has coughed up this week instead of kicking up your heels on a dance floor with people who are talented and drove 667 miles to party with you... then you are damn skippy I am immature. I also think being able to gush and effuse about a band I've never met, never heard live, and yet am as excited as if those four bowl haircuts just stepped off the plane at Kennedy in 1964; well, that just makes me damn lucky in this life. I think it could be worse. I could obsessively hyperlink. Oh, wait...

Speaking of obsessions, I am embarking on my 5th trip to the Gulf Coast to rebuild houses. Between working in the ninth ward on construction, eating gumbo, and listening to live music I doubt I will have time to be blogging. That's a shame because I am doing my annual pilgrimage to the National Funeral Directors Association Convention at the end of the trip and I know how y'all love my blogging from that event. You can wish me a bon voyage Saturday night because as soon as Whitey says "Thank you, Richmond!" and turns off the amp, my driving buddy and I hit the road to NOLA.

Thanks for reading when you could have been web surfing for bands. Word to your mama.

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