Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll stories are overrated. By which I probably mean – sex stories: fine. Drugs stories: fine. Rock’n’roll stories: fine. But put them all together and there’s a desperation and a soullessness, some spiritually bankrupt loser trying to trade (forever) in a currency that allegedly makes them seem hip, cool, untouchable
I’d rather read or hear about the music.
I remember being not that fussed with that Lemmy documentary that everyone seemed to love. Look, I’ve enjoyed a lot of Motorhead’s music. But Lemmy, always seemed a sad old man, a casualty. I’m not sure why we ever celebrated his survival as if it was something legendary. More a fluke of endurance than anything, right?
You’ll know I’m a fan of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. I still consider it a must-listen. But the split episode with Richard Thompson and Lemmy was a tough listen. Maron’s never that great when interviewing musicians anyway. He struggles. He’s either all fanboy and slobbering, or he’s just way-off – sometimes both. And though he got there with Thompson, just, the Lemmy interview was excruciating. It was tough because Lemmy, 70, sounded 150. And then, when you got over how hard he was to hear and the nonsense he was talking he just sounded sad. Silly. It must have been one of Lemmy’s very last interviews.
By all accounts the last Motorhead album is yet another Motorhead album. Some say it’s their best in years. Some can’t be bothered, haven’t been bothered since the early 1980s. But it’s Lemmy – the man, the person – that puts me off. Not the music. I’d give that a go anytime. But his hero-stories and half-formed thoughts never did anything for me.
Keith Richards had a new solo album to sell recently – and was making headlines for calling out rap music as rubbish. I love Keith – love his music, his contribution to it all, but his opinion on rap is rockist, white, detached, ill-informed and embarrassing. His album would always sell to whoever was buying it. People celebrating him as a hero for this shortcut in thinking are buying right into the myth. Not the music. Many of those same people were so sure the even more recent Rolling Stones album was pure blues! No. (I did like Keith’s solo album though).
On holiday last year – and we were stuck in the air for a wasted day (including two hours on the tarmac in a country we had never planned to visit) – the only thing to do was read So I finished a couple of books, including Mick Wall’s memoir.
Wall was a good writer once upon a time. Now he’s just hacking it out to top up the retirement fund. And though I can’t begrudge him that, he has the stories to tell after all, the memoir is particularly tragic. As paragraph after paragraph involves taking a line or two of blow off a hooker’s thigh, you realise this guy would have been content listening to anything that might dull the noises in his head. Or nothing at all. It could have been anything else – it just happened to be Iron Maiden and Guns N’ Roses and Metallica and metal/hard-rock. But it was never about the music for him. It was about the lifestyle. Rubbing up against fame and blaming no one – certainly not himself – for any indulgence.
I find it odd that these sorts of lifestyles, stories and opinions, part of what allegedly makes rock “rock” are still celebrated, excused, revered. It’s sad and insulting. And it has very little to do with the (actual) music.