Apart from buying a lot of records, I also read a lot of artist biographies. These books used to be revelatory and interesting reading, with tales of excess, mismanagement, hits, and misses. Even moving beyond artist bios and reading about the history of a particular record label yields the same results. Read enough of them though, and you start to realize that’s pretty much all there is. Music is very time-and-fashion based, and, when styles evolve, music must evolve with it. Today’s hitmakers become tomorrow’s has-beens, destroyed by ego, excess, and the trappings of fame. Not to mention that, for most, music is something that speaks more loudly when you’re young. As you get older, you no longer have the time or inclination to seek out new bands and new ideas in music (well, most don’t). So, few artists are able to sustain interest amongst multiple generation or even decades. We’re always going to have the U2’s of the world, unfortunately, but I imagine even they serve a purpose. Maybe Jim Morrison had it right when he said “no one here gets out alive”.
Despite knowing what I’m going to end up reading, I’ve been reading Adam Ant’s biography Stand and Deliver. It’s not the most compelling artist bio I’ve ever read, and I know the reason. When he strays from speaking about the music and delves into his (in my opinion, unhealthy) preoccupation with sex, the book starts to meander. I understand that sex, like music, probably helps anchor him (he’s bipolar), but honestly, it’s not that compelling. It is, however, a lot easier to understand where his song lyrics come from now! It is nice to read his take on punk, given that he was one of the original, first-run punks on the scene, even if his musical output took a few years to materialize. I have quite a few of his early, independent label singles and his original Do-It Records label version of Dirk Wears White Sox. I also have the remastered 2014 edition on white vinyl. It’s a good record, strange, more art-punk and somewhat avant-garde than the trumpet and guitar stomp with the ultra-repetitive lyrics he would find success with. His more well-known early to mid-80’s style (with period appropriate videos to accompany it) wasn’t necessarily my preferred cup of tea, although a sip now and then isn’t bad.
One last thing – a friend of mine sent over an album cover today, and expected a response. My reply was “this is the precursor to the Blue Man Group, it’s…the Blue Man Man.” Here’s the image, so you understand the context of our conversation:
And they say the kids today are weird!