Racist dads are a bigger part of the problem then they will ever know (well, obviously). Racist mums too. Racism ain’t ever a good time – but racist jokes can sometimes still seem funny. This is one of the great paradoxes of the world. Well, not great in the sense that it’s any sort of achievement or accomplishment. More vexing, if anything. Many websites and some news organisations – and plenty of publishers of books – now employ sensitivity readers. People that check to make sure the right things are being said, the wrong things will not be triggered. This is a fucking nonsense, an affront, an embarrassment, on so many levels. And yet we’ve been hurtling towards it for centuries. We’ve arrived. And it’s not a cool thing to hear about. Unless you’ve been able to hook up a cushy gig, a job as a sensitivity reader. If you haven’t – it’s one more job you haven’t got. But a chance, finally, to bond with your racist dad.
Sad to hear, just now, of the passing of one of the all-time great behind-the-scenes players, perhaps the greatest arranger and producer to ever work in country music, Billy Sherrill. Best known for his work with Tammy Wynette and George Jones Sherrill had a hand in so many hit records – working also with the likes of Elvis Costello, Ray Charles, Bobby Vinton, Andy Williams, Johnny Cash and David Allan Coe (and that’s just a very short list) – and often he was the producer, arranger and co-writer.
So many huge highlights in a career that saw him work closely with Charlie Rich and the smooth, countrypolitan sound that dominated across the 1970s and 1980s, with roots in the 1960s productions, is Sherrill’s lasting legacy.
But if he had just had a hand in Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man and George Jones’ He Stopped Loving Her Today that would have been enough; two of the all-time greats from two of the all-time greats.
Billy Sherrill knew how to make a sound that sold heartbreak. Billy Sherrill had so many
huge hits to his name. He was a very important part of country music. You can’t imagine not having those signature songs in the cannon. Not now. They’re there forever. Thanks – in part, an important part too, to Billy.
R.I.P. Billy Sherrill
This coming Friday, September 19, I’ll be playing some records down at the San Fran for a late show directly following Jeremy Elwood’s Election Special comedy show. Since it’ s the eve of the election the theme will continue and it’ll be a set of my favourite New Zealand music.
Late last year I did the Great Kiwi BBQ soundtrack – I won’t be repeating that line-up, though one or two of those same songs will surely make an appearance.
Starting after 10pm and rolling through until the wee smalls it’s going to be Dance Exponents and Spines, DD Smash and Shihad, Lawrence Arabia and Phoenix Foundation, Prince Tui Teka and Tall Dwarfs, Chris Knox and The Chills, The Clean and The Bats, David Kilgour and The Mutton Birds. Anything – and everything – that’s good.
So come on down for a beer and an after-party if you’re going to see Neil Finn’s gig that night. Or stay on after the comedy show. Tell your friends and celebrate election eve with some of my favourite (and your favourite?) Kiwi tunes.
Okay, look, I’m no longer a fan of The Black Keys – but some of you are. So you might like to know that they’re coming back to New Zealand, April of next year. Two shows – Auckland and Christchurch and they’re bringing Band of Skulls with them as the opening act.
I loathed the latest album from The Black Keys but some of you probably loved it.
There’s a chance they’ll put on a great show – even with material from the new album.
They’ll play Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena, Saturday, April 18, 2015
and Auckland’s Vector Arena, Sunday, April 19.
Pre-sale tickets will be available from Tuesday, September 16 midday until Wednesday, September 17 midday.
For any more information head to Much More Music.
Perhaps you had – or still have – comic book heroes. I didn’t. Not really. Not unless you count pro-wrestlers. They were my comic-book heroes. There were rock stars too, sure. And pro-wrestlers were rock-stars too. For a while at least. I probably started discovering them around the same time.
That’s why – even though I’ll probably never watch any wrestling ever again – it kinda means something to me to hear that The Ultimate Warrior has died. He was the Ultimate! When I was 12 years old he was it. There was Macho Man and Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan and Jake “The Snake” and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake and they all – rather sickeningly, perhaps – meant something to me. But Warrior was the ultimate.
I had the best part of two decades away from wrestling – then returned to it with some strange, vaguely journalistic curiosity. I wanted to write a feature article about how pro-wrestling was a lot like pornography – both were fantasy-versions of the real thing, the extreme end point, unobtainable and absurd. Fetishist/bullshit: guilty pleasures for many. There were strange parallels and contrasts – as the budgets got bigger for wrestling it got more absurd, pornography lost a lot of its drama and “storyline”/angles and the budgets, erm, drooped.
Anyway, I never got around to writing that article – possibly because I was the only person on the planet who thought they might like to read something like that. I did, however, revisit my childhood, rekindle a passion of sorts and start collecting up experiences, renting out old VHS tapes and new DVDs, I even interviewed a bunch of wrestlers when they came to NZ, I got a gig writing for a pro-wrestling website – I did phoners with other childhood wrestling heroes, Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Ric Flair. I always wanted to interview The Ultimate Warrior.
That never happened.
A request or two was made. Ignored at first. Later declined.
But you see I’d always followed – vaguely at least – what this Warrior character was up to. Even when I wasn’t at all interested in wrestling. He was fascinating to me, because clearly the character had disappeared long ago, absorbed into Jim Hellwig’s bloodstream along with all sorts of monkey-juice.
I even received a Christmas Card from him once. True. I’ve still got it.
He had changed his name to Warrior, legally. In fact he was called Warrior Warrior: first name, then surname. And he was mostly involved with his own website and speaking engagements. You could watch his “lectures” on YouTube. He talked giant loads of horseshit. As if steroid residue was crawling out of his mouth convinced it was dressed up preppy and looking pretty and ready for college.
He seemed a sad case. That made him absolutely fascinating.
There was the documentary about him - a hatchet job, because he was not on speaking terms with his former employees; they set out to make him look bad. They had so much to work with. Somehow, that documentary, as grinning and gurning as it was, seemed to tell the truth, or at least a truth. You could picture this nut-job through all of that.
But hey, that’s all irrelevant. Because when I was 12 years old this guy was it. I watch those tapes back now – or rather, watched them back a decade or so ago – and see the full absurdity, he’s like a Chippendale-as-Clydesdale, you could all but imagine he downed several ounces of horse jizz before he jerked the curtain and shook up them ring ropes.
Where the other wrestlers talked in broad clichés this guy had these off-the-hook promos about taking “the little warriors” with him on a spaceship and blasting through stratospheres and he was like some crazy, religious guy. And it was fucking wonderful. Or he just stomped and snorted. Sometimes it was hard to tell which he had settled on – the promos and interviews made no sense most of the time anyway. You could see these other big baby-type wrestlers actually looking a bit scared when they had to work with him, and the interviewers too. He could have popped at any point.
I kinda liked knowing this guy was around though.
I have that Xmas Card he sent me. What happened was: a mate bought me an Ultimate Warrior beanie as a Christmas gift a few years ago, back in 2006 it was. When I emailed him and told him thanks for the gift; good joke…he wrote back going, “did you get the card?” And I said that nah, no card from him was in there. “Not from me” he goes on to tell me. “From Warrior…”
He sends me his correspondence with Warrior. He had emailed him and chased him up. Warrior had explained that the cards had all gone out with a personal note but they had been sent separately and though there might be a delay the card would still arrive and he hoped that the recipient would still appreciate the thought that went into the message.
I did receive the card shortly after that.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! I’m not one to “wish” or “hope”, but my affirmation for you is that you will enlarge your belief in the potential your life holds. We are all Created to do something unique in our lives! The most powerful thing you can do is BELIEVE this every single moment. I will be thinking positively for you that you do!!
2006 – X-mas.
The Ultimate Warrior was inducted into the WWE’s Hall of Fame this past weekend. I’m not up with the play, I’m just learning this from glancing past a couple of obituaries. But he had not been on speaking terms with the company for some time – there was legal action going on and he had fought to keep his character available so that he could wrestle again, pitifully no doubt. But anyway…
He appeared at the recent Wrestlemania 30 and the following night’s TV show – this, by the way, is all just a couple of days ago as I write this.
And now he’s dead. The curse of wrestling, the sickness, the attachment to the lifestyle, the pennilessness of it, the drugs, the painkillers – the worst drugs of all, it seems – the dependency on all of it, the fame that’s so fleeting, so pointless, so superficial, the rush that’s needed, the joke of it all – how you’ll get fans, wide-eyed in wonder, so quick to justify it, but to anyone else your career and life is just a joke.
Something got him in the end. His heart probably gave out. Because his heart was more in it than just about anyone else I ever watched play that mad, daft, wonderful, stupid “sport”
We had a blast at the San Fran Bath House with the Loving The Alien David Bowie DJ set. People were there to dance. People were there to sit back and enjoy the tunes. It was a good crowd – nice people. They made it easy. I played the hits. And a few album tracks in and around the obvious stuff. So many good songs. And they’re all here in this handy playlist. So if you were there and want to relive these songs – or you missed it and want a great Bowie compilation click on that link – enjoy!