Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Elvis Costello? Yes.

A reader asked me whether Elvis Costello is advanced. I believe that he is. He started out on the punk scene, though he never really thought of himself as a punk. As I remember, he was a computer programmer in the early '70s, which just shows you how ahead of his time he was. I think he was also in a country band around that time as well. I love the fact that he chose Elvis as his stage name--and got away with it. I can't think of anything more audacious than taking the King of Rock'n'Roll's name. He didn't choose Jerry Lee Costello or Ringo Costello (and Lou was obviously out), he chose Elvis. "My Aim Is True" is indisputably (and overtly) great. What I love is that his backup band was the same one that backed up Huey Lewis as The News ("Sports" is an all-time advanced album title), and that band could have kicked the Clash's asses any day. Some early evidence of his advancement was his lifting an Abba piano riff for "Oliver's Army" and admitting it openly. He made a country record with a bigtime Nashville producer. He wrote songs with Paul McCartney. Things took a very advanced turn when Costello recorded with the Brodsky Quartet, creating a genuine "song cycle." His collaboration with Burt Bacharach was also a good advanced move. He appeared in an Austin Powers movie, as well as an episode of the Simpsons. One one tour, according to All Music, "he began singing the last song with a microphone, forcing the audience to sit in complete silence as he usually performed 'Couldn't Call It Unexpected #4' with nothing but his dulcet baritone filling the auditorium." Forcing an audience to do anything is advanced, but it's especially advanced if they do it. He did a pop standards album. He grew a long beard and started wearing sunglasses (changing the traditional formula from dark sunglasses, long hair in the back, to dark sunglasses, long hair in the front). Advanced British artists do not wear black leather jackets for some reason. Apparently he also had a residency at UCLA. Recently there was an article about how he has destroyed his wife's music and she his. That's the kind of criticism one would expect of an advanced artist.

So Elvis Costello is a perfect example of an advanced artist. He started out in the Punk scene and wound up singing to Austin Powers, mystifying just about everyone along the way.

I'll probably say more about him as the days go by.

Slowhand? No.

I just finished reading the NY Times review of Eric Clapton's concert. In case you were wondering, Eric Clapton is not advanced. He's just boring. But I do appreciate his choice of shoes for the stage.

We Are Now Experiencing a Lull

Busy day today, but hopefully I'll be able to post some good stuff later this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Amazon Tells It Like It Is

Customers who bought titles by Lou Reed also bought titles by these artists:

Velvet Underground
Neil Young
David Bowie
Bob Dylan
Warren Zevon

Rediscovering Your Favorite Artists

The real joy of the advanced theory is that it gives you back your favorite artists. You don't have to succumb to the belief that everybody declines and that eventually you have to say goodbye to your heroes. So here's what you do: Put on one of the "bad" records by one of your favorite artists or bands. But listen to it with the idea that everything that once made you cringe is actually good. Embrace all the things you hated. When I relearned how to listen to "Mistrial," I began by laughing at the fact that Lou Reed would make music like "Don't Hurt a Woman." I had to keep a bit of a distance because I hadn't fully understood its glory. Now I love "Don't Hurt a Woman" as much as "Pale Blue Eyes." True, I don't have the same emotional attachment, but that is because "Pale Blue Eyes" was a big part of my life as a younger man, when I was much more emotional. But that doesn't mean "Don't Hurt a Woman" is worse than "Pale Blue Eyes." So put on the record and laugh if you have to. But if you listen to it enough and the music is truly advanced (as opposed to bad), you'll find yourself loving music that you have deprived yourself of unnecessarily.

Promising Meat Puppet News


Former Meat Puppets frontman Curt Kirkwood plans to release his first solo album early next year. The currently untitled work features the singer/guitarist backed by the Texas version of the Puppets (guitarist Kyle Ellison, drummer Shandon Sahm, and bassist Andrew DuPlantis) assembled for 2000's Golden Lies, and many of the tracks began as outtakes of that record.

"I went back and listened to [the tracks] and liked them more than the last Meat Puppets record," Kirkwood says. "I didn't want to continue calling it 'Meat Puppets.' It's kind of a hodgepodge of different recordings -- some that I did in my living room -- so I figured I'd better just call it a 'solo record.'"

Among the tracks slated for the record are "Enemy Love Song," "Nursery Rhyme," "I'm Not You" and Golden Lies' aborted title track. "It actually sounds a little more like the old Meat Puppets," Kirkwood says. "[This lineup] likes to play the more straightforward rock."

As you all know, going solo is an advanced thing to do. But what excites me most about this news it that last quote.

Is It Really So Strange?

Some background:

When the advanced theory was first created, it was much more about "weirdness" than genius. When you're in high school, you want to show how unique you are by dressing in funny clothes or having a haircut that pisses off your parents. But as you get older, you realize that running shoes are much more comfortable than Doc Martens (in my day) and that interesting hair is exhausting to maintain and stupid besides.

Nothing profound here, but I thought y'all might like to know where all this came from.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Joe Perry's Hot Sauce


AEROSMITH guitartist JOE PERRY will make an appearance on the Food Network's Emeril Live on June 27th promoting his hot sauce, "Joe Perry's Rock Your World Boneyard Brew."

Joe Perry doesn't quite meet the standards for being advanced, but I'm always for musicians branching out. Lou Reed should have his own line of cosmetics. He could call the cologne Blue Musk.

Overt Equals "Bad"?

After reading a bit about the advanced theory, one might ask, "What about those artists who start out overt and stay that way?" Well, just because someone doesn't become advanced doesn't mean they aren't good. "Overt" is not a synonym for "bad." But there is a particular type of genius that takes a path that leads to the state of being that we call advanced. These geniuses are those that have been seen with (at some point) long hair in the back, dark sunglasses, and a black leather jacket. They talk a lot about rock'n'roll and make career moves that few people understand. They embrace technology, world music and new artists. They feature their own image on the covers of their albums. They release lots of live records. All others are overt.


Advanced in Name Only

I read a little article about the Cure. While Robert Smith would be a good advanced name, the Cure frontman is not advanced. The evidence? He hates Queen.

Friday, June 25, 2004

What About U2?

U2 has been flirting with advancement since "Rattle and Hum." But there is an implied wink in a lot of the seemingly advanced things they've done that has held them back from being full-on advanced. I thought the videos for "One" was about Bono's struggle with becoming advanced. As you probably remember, at the time he started to wear a lot of leather and those sunglasses. I believe the first video for the song was a buffalo running in slow motion, which is pretty overt. But there was also a version of them playing in a studio. The version that dealt with advancement was the one with Bono sitting at a table, drinking a beer. He appears to be struggling with his imminent advancement, and in the end he gives in and puts on his dark sunglasses. But he hasn't truly given himself over to advancement. I do like that he talks about taking back the title of greatest rock'n'roll band in the world (celebrating rock'n'roll is very important to an advanced artist). But I'm not sure if he isn't joking just a bit. I *love* that he wears his sunglasses while meeting politicians. It's especially great that he is wearing expensive sunglasses while talking about relieving third-world debt.

When I saw U2 during the Zoo TV tour (advanced), B.A.D. II and Public Enemy opened (advanced combo), there were many signs of advancement. The last song played on the PA before they started was "Rock'n'Roll" by Led Zeppelin and, after they were done, an Elvis (advanced) song played. Best of all, they played "satellite of Love" and Lou Reed appeared onscreen to sing along. That was in the early days of the theory, and it blew my mind. Still, though, there was the whiff of irony, which is for the overt. Another thing I appreciated in their career was when they visited Graceland in "Rattle and Hum." It was a scene straight out of "This Is Spinal Tap."

I'll be curious to see how they progress. Playing the Super Bowl halftime show was a really great move, that's for sure.

Folds School


Ben Folds is pushing back the release date of his next solo album to early 2005 in order to give "Star Trek" veteran William Shatner's upcoming collection, "Has Been," his full attention. The set is being targeted for a September release by Shout! Factory.

"It is a great record and it is really worth going out and doing some shows in major cities," Folds told "(Shatner) is not a musician at all -- he's not rapping or singing -- but he is still part of the music. I've never heard a record quite like it." Shatner previously guested on Folds'1998 solo album "Fear of Pop, Vol.1"

Shatner's album was produced and written mostly by Folds and includes cameos by Henry Rollins, Aimee Mann and Joe Jackson, who duets with Shatner on Pulp's "Common People." Author Nick Hornby ("High Fidelity") also co-wrote a song with Folds for the project.

I don't think this really qualifies as advanced, though I applaud the inclusion of Henry Rollins, who just may be advanced. Also, it's sort of interesting that William Shatner and Joe Jackson are doing a Pulp song. I also think that Ben Folds seriously likes the music he has made with Shatner. Still, Ben Folds just doesn't have the stature. It's no Loretta Lynn/Jack White collaboration, that's for sure.

p.s. Ever notice that Aimee Mann and Michael Penn are the man and woman version of each other? I'm glad they got married.

The Queen Is Dead and Appearing in Las Vegas

The Queen musical We Will Rock You will make its American debut at the Paris in Las Vegas, with previews on August 16th and an official premiere in September. The show, which launched in London's West End in 2002, features twenty of the band's hits including "We Are the Champions," "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
"Movin' Out," Billy Joel's musical, is not advanced because his early work doesn't quite cut it. (He's tried to be advanced for a long time, especially the "We Didn't Start the Fire" phase. He always wore sunglasses in interviews. Still, no dice.) But "We Will Rock You" is certainly advanced. It's always nice when a band continues after their frontman dies. I believe that INXS are finding someone to sing for them through a reality show. That sounds pretty advanced, but INXS wasn't good enough to qualify. Good try, though.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Feed Burner

I've syndicated my blog. I'm not sure what that means, but I think it's good. Go to


Advanced Sports Quotes

From Randy Moss, the wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings:

"The Minnesota Vikings stunned the Denver Broncos with another Randy Moss original on the final play of the first half. The miracle touchdown -- a 44-yard Moss reception followed by an over-the-shoulder, no-look lateral to running back Moe Williams, who took it 15 yards for the score -- didn't just stand as the difference in the Vikings' 28-20 victory; it may end up standing as one of the defining masterpieces of Moss' never-know-what's-next career.

Randy Moss, explaining the play: "It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing that only happens every so often."

(thanks to reader Cubby K)

Madonna at the Garden

I went to the Madonna concert last night at Madison Square Garden. The future Mrs. Wexr has been a fan forever, and her enthusiasm added to my enjoyment. I'll get to the concert review in a moment, but first, a few words about Madonna: She is the only advanced woman artist that I'm familiar with, which isn't to say that aren't more. Actually, Cher is advanced now that I think about it. Highlights would be the blasphemous Pepsi commercial, "Truth or Dare" (advanced artists like movies about tours or themselves in general, Bob Dylan especially--Must talk more about that), and her cover of "American Pie." She has transformed herself many times, which is a hallmark of the advanced artist (Lou Reed, David Bowie, Bob Dylan). She also acts. And she embraces younger artists (Britney Spears) and incorporates "what's happening now" (like the vocoder she uses in so much of the new stuff) in her music. But let's talk about the concert.

Before the show began, men in tuxedos sold champagne with a slice of strawberry in it, a nice advanced touch. The show started with Madonna offstage, but some music that her fans seemed to recognize was played while elements of the stage revolved, and two dancers were lowered from near the ceiling on rope swings. Then Madonna was elevated from below the stage to great fanfare. She opened with "Vogue," which sounded great. The band, which, from what I could tell from my limited-viewing seat on the side of the stage, consisted of a drummer (who was fantastic), a guy playing keyboards and bass, a lead guitarist with a mohawk, and a couple of backup signers. Having a guy with a mohawk in your band is advanced if you are Madonna. It is not advanced if you are in Green Day or No Doubt. The backup singers were African American women, a must for the advanced artist. My only complaint about "Vogue" was that she seemed not very excited about singing it. She delivered the necessary performance, but lacked enthusiasm. "Vogue" was good, but not advanced, other than the band.

Things got advanced a little later when the dancers all emerged in fatigues (the "don't ask, don't tell" dancers, I wittily thought to myself) and acted like they were in the army. There were cages in which dancers would bang up against the bars and people would come and beat them. I can only assume this was a political statement about the recent torture scandals. Or perhaps it was just good luck? Things got really advanced when, during what I believe was "American Life," a bunch of dancers came out dressed as nuns, Hasidic Jews, Muslims, and just about every kind of person with international flavor you could think of. There was a theme of unity throughout the night--Madonna is a uniter, not a diva--and this was the most explicit example of that. The song rocked with unbelievable authority. It almost had a Ministry-type sound, and she seemed finally to be getting into it.

Another noteworthy moment was when she played "Burning Up" (or "Burning Up for Your Love," not sure of the name). It was noteworthy because she played the guitar. She is a novice at guitar (you can tell because she constantly looks down at the fret board and holds the pick in a very certain way, as if were the pick to shift in her fingers, she would be lost), but she clearly loved playing. People might scoff at this attempt, but I think it's rather brave to be a beginner and play in front of all those people. Plus, if you've been making music as long as she has, you have to make it fresh. I think that goes to the heart of the advanced theory (for me, anyway). A genius requires challenges. In the beginning of their careers, the challenges come from other people, whereas when they advance, the challenges are completely personal. So I love that she plays the guitar.

An advanced moment was when she covered "Imagine." Every critic I have read mentions this as being unfortunate or the low-point of the evening. I was ready to feel the same way, at least through an advanced lens. But everyone was moved and singing along. It was a moment that I think most critics couldn't enjoy because that song has become a cliché. But at one point, I'll bet even those critics loved the original version of that song, but that moment has been long forgotten. Now if, say, Britney Spears covered "Imagine," it would be awful (even though I love her). But Madonna is one of the few people who has had an impact as close to John Lennon's as anyone, so I say she has the right to cover it if she wants to. Plus, the audience, including me, all sang together, and it was a very nice moment. So good for her!

Let's finish up: She sang a lovely version of "Crazy for You," which she dedicated to her fans who have "stuck with her for 20 years." There was a sequence that included a guy playing bagpipes and a drum corps banged along. At one point the stage revolved to reveal a half-pipe, on which a skater did some minimal tricks. It almost goes without saying that he had a mohawk. There three truly amazing acrobats doing things on rope swings that were twenty feet in the air (without a net, of course). The dancers were also great. (Side note: I was a ballet/modern dancer for about 10 years. I went to the American Dance Festival, and so did Madonna!) Everything was done to perfection, except for a little problem Madonna had with a monitor and some lyrics, which she joked about good-naturedly. Her voice was great, and she sang the whole time. No lip-synching at all.

I think the most advanced part of the whole thing was the name of the tour: "The Re-Invention Tour." I have no idea what that refers to.


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

No Comment

Now I know how it feels to be a early morning DJ at a forgotten radio station. Just call me Johnny Sunshine!


p.s. This post originally said "late-night DJ," which was a mistake. Johnny was the morning guy at WKRP.

Sweet Karaoke Hangover

I'm a bit tired today because I hosted my karaoke show last night. I haven't seen anything in the news today that is interesting from the advanced point of view, so I'll just invite you to look at how many times Tom Waits starts songs with "well." I'll try to get back to explaining the theory later this afternoon.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

At Right End: Lou Reed

Britt sent me these lyrics to illustrate the advanced/sports connection.

from coney island baby:

You know, man, when I was a young man in high school
you believe it or not I wanted to play football for
the coach
And all those older guys
they said he was mean and cruel, but you know
wanted to play football for the coach
They said I was to little too lightweight to play linebacker
so I say I'm playing right-end
wanted to play football for the coach
'Cause, you know some day, man
you gotta stand up straight unless you're gonna fall
then you're gone to die
And the straightest dude
I ever knew was standing right for me all the time
So I had to play football for the coach
and I wanted to play football for the coach

That is advanced, everybody.


about the theory pt. 1

Okay, now that I have a moment, I'll try to explain the advanced theory. It is easier to explain within a conversation, but that's why somebody invented the blog. So here goes: A lot of people feel like geniuses—I'll stick to musical geniuses—have a period where they are great but then inevitably decline. The classic advanced-theory example is Lou Reed. Most people feel that he was great in the Velvet Underground, had a couple great solo records, but then became lazy and released of lot of self-indulgent, mediocre music. The advanced theory says that Lou Reed did not decline at all. In fact, he keeps getting better or at the very least is every bit the genius he was as a young man. The problem is, we don't understand him now any better than people understood him then. If he was ahead of his time when he was in VU, then he is ahead of his time now.

But let's go back. What made VU great? They wrote great songs, offered an alternative to the hippie peppermint-lollipop stuff, and were just generally cool. However, it was their unique sound and Reed's lyrics that set them apart from most other bands at the time. Being innovative was a central motivation, and they wore that motivation on their sleeves. They were, in advanced terminology, "overt weirdos." Overt weirdness is easy to achieve: get a green mohawk, were two different color shoes, don't wash your hair, and you will generally be considered weird. It's obvious, and that is the problem from the advanced point of view.

Lou Reed left VU, which was his first step to being an "advanced weirdo." Advanced artist almost always go solo because even their bandmates can't understand what they are doing. This gives them a reputation of being difficult, but few geniuses aren't. After Reed got out of VU, he continued to be overt. He got mixed up with David Bowie (a topic for later), which gave us "Take a Walk on the Wild Side." (For years, every time he played a talk show, he would play that song, cementing the public perception of him as a one-hit wonder. That was very advanced.) He put out albums that were totally depressing ("Berlin") or unlistenable ("Metal Machine Music") or mystifying ("Rock and Roll Animal"). Some of his solo stuff was successful and well-reviewed, most not. But in the eighties, I think he took a turn form being an overt weirdo to being an advanced weirdo.

If you've heard "White Light/White Heat" and "Mistrial," you know that his music changed to an astonishing degree. But I think that any cut on Mistrial is as good as "Sister Ray" and much weirder as well. Anyone can make a lot of noise and sing obscure lyrics, but it takes someone truly weird to make a song like "Original Wrapper," where he sings about watching TV, waffles, and, yes, pitchers and batters. He also perfected the advanced artist's uniform: black leather jacket, dark sunglasses, and long hair in the back. By the way, most people like to call it a mullet, but I think that is too overt a description. When Lou Reed's hair was short on top and long in the back, there were no mullet.coms or anywhere near the ironic attention paid to that hairstyle (irony has no place in advancement). His appearance was much weirder than the look he cultivated in VU because almost no one would appreciate it. In VU he at least had the transvestites and pushers on his side. But who would endorse the look he had during "Mistrial"? Certainly not the overt weirdo.

I'm going to wind up for now. Lou Reed's career has been long and has taken some pretty advanced turns.


the good ship lollapalooza

just saw this:

Faced with several million dollars of losses, Lollapalooza organizers have decided to pull the plug on all dates. The tour's co-founder, Marc Geiger, stated, "I am in utter disbelief that a concert of this stature, with the most exciting line-up I've seen in years, did not galvanize ticket sales. I'm surprised that given the great bands and the reduced ticket prices that we didn't have enough sales to sustain the tour." The 13-year-old tour was set to begin in three weeks, and included the star-studded line-up of Morrissey, PJ Harvey, The Pixies, The Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, among others.

The phrase "13-year-old tour" could be read in another way: Lollapalooza is a tour for 13-year-olds. I'd love to see those bands, but I'm 33, and there is no way I'm going to an outdoor concert that lasts all day. So I'm not exactly shocked that the concert would fail to create interest. Now, if Lollapalooza were a series of 30-minute concerts (say, Thursday night, 9 P.M.) featuring those same bands, I'd be there. Well, I'd be there as long as the concerts were near my apartment and there was plenty of seating and good beer. Oh, and no smoking either.


Looks like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are on the cover of Spin. They are overt, overt, overt.

Advanced Artists Like Sports

A friend recently shared this with me:


The BOB DYLAN Show will kick off on August 6th in Cooperstown, New York, the birthplace of baseball. Following the show at Doubleday Field, Dylan will go on to perform at twenty-one minor league baseball parks across the country. Dylan, who once immortalized Hall of Fame pitcher "Catfish" Hunter in song, will be joined by country legend WILLIE NELSON and country swing troupe HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN. "What we aim to do with this tour," Dylan said, "is to hit the ball out of the park, touch all the bases and get home safely."

There is a connection between sports and advanced artists, but I haven't quite figured it out yet. Off the top of my head, I remember that Lou Reed mentions the football team at the high school where the Velvet Underground recorded one of their live albums. He wasn't advanced then, but I remember when I heard that as a younger man that it sounded rather strange coming from the man who wrote "Venus in Furs." Also, Elton John wore the sequined Dodgers uniform when he played that huge concert in L.A. in the seventies. But his most advanced outfit had to be the Donald Duck costume (more on that later). The U2 video that centered around the kicker for a football team and had John Madden in it strikes me as particularly advanced. Now Bob Dylan is touring minor league baseball stadiums. The last quote I find particularly advanced, especially from someone considered the "voice of his generation." It's also great that he once sang about Catfish Hunter.

I guess what I have to say is that people who try to be overtly weird would not admit to liking sports. They might say that they enjoy "football," meaning soccer, because that is not typical of an American. I would assume that European overt weirdos pretend to love anything but soccer. Now, I'm sure that some people only like soccer or don't like sports at all. Those people can still be advanced. But if they don't like sports because they don't think they fit in to their perception of what it is to be weird, then they are overt.

In the News

Check out Chuck Klosterman's article about the advanced theory here

He did an amazing job of explaining the theory. (I'm still working out the links kinks.)

welcome, take two

I tried this before, but I'm not sure if it worked. But as I was saying, the most important things you need to know are: black leather jacket, sunglasses, and long hair in the back.

More to follow...