Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Sunday I was driving early enough to catch a bit of Breakfast with the Beatles, the morning show hosted by Terry Hemmert on WXRT. Usually Hemmert’s drooling devotion to the fab four is enough to make even this fan roll the eyes, but when she had the audacity to play “Ebony and Ivory” in celebration of whatever Paul related shit is going down, well that was too much.

There is no reason to play “Ebony and Ivory”—never, not for gen-ex irony, not for an easy laugh, not while high, drunk or depressed. It isn’t even advisable to play the cover version by Murphy’s Law featuring the singer from Fishbone. Leave the god-awful thing alone and let’s forget Paul’s regrettable ‘80s persona. Granted, had Hemmert trotted out “The Dog Gone Girl is Mine” it might have been worse, but there is something uniquely offensive to “Ebony and Ivory” that no duet with the king of pop can capture. Maybe one can rationalize things by saying that Michael Jackson, inherently odd and quite possibly an alien, infected Paul with the suck virus somewhere between the Thriller album and the “Say Say Say” single. But Stevie Wonder is regarded as being a musical genius, as is Paul. Logistically, they ought to have made magic. They should have, in theory, but they were both past their prime. Stick two revered icons of a vanished musical era in the same room, add some bland production, more than a dash of lazy, simplistic sociopolitical pondering and a really obnoxious metaphor, and the result is one of the biggest pieces of crap ever to be pressed in vinyl. The ‘80s gave us The Police, The Melvins, The Pogues, The Butthole Surfers, Bongwater, Slayer, Metallica (when they were good), Husker Du, My Bloody Valentine, Devo, The Jam, Joy Division, Tom Waits at his prime, R.E.M., The Descendents, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Big Black, Naked Raygun… so much of my favorite music came from this decade, though what is clear is that the ‘80s were not good to previous generations of tired rockers. Paul sucked, Stevie sucked, even the Who were pretty useless (though they had been for sometime). Only the Kinks managed a worthwhile single in this decade with “Come Dancing.”

Hearing this horrible track by Paul and Stevie, a song I was sure I would never have to again endure, made me see just how slavishly devoted Beatles goons can be. Terry Hemmert is a fucking sheep. If she had any real love for the Beatles she would have never allowed that song to air; she would have burned any copy she found in the colon of the studio. And come to think of it, what the fuck is “Ebony and Ivory” doing in the XRT studio? This is the station that has long coasted on its hip credibility, the station that has the ability to draw new “alternative” listeners by highlighting the laughably bad songs from the last three White Stripes records and promoting the bloated excess that is the Smashing Pumpkins reunion while also retaining their older fans with the occasional John Prine cut. Why do they own one of the worst songs of not only the ‘80s but all music history? I could see if they played “Muskrat Love” once in a blue moon just for a larf, but there is nothing good that can come from kicking back and listening to “side by side on my on my piano keyboard, oh lord, why don’t we?”

I love my music। God knows I defend a lot of it. How many friends have had to tolerate my endless lectures on the importance of Japanese Noise? How many have thought me strange for owning Thomas Dolby CDs? Yeah, I can defend any CD I own—you want to know why? Because I don’t own any Paul McCartney CDs released during or after the ‘80s and I don’t listen to crap, especially crap that comes from a once great artist. Once R.E.M. sang “Shinny Happy People” I got the fuck out of there. Once Shane got booted (or quit, depending on which interview you read) from the Pogues, I dismissed not only the band but also the solo efforts of their former front man. Once Sting went solo, he was dead to me. I know when to let go. Terry Hemmert and all the other idol worshipers ought to do likewise. Jesus, let your heroes die with a little dignity.

PS: Though the song “Ebony and Ivory” is one of the biggest piles of crap ever, it did give birth to two of the better TV parodies, the infamous SNL Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra duet and, even better, Gob and Franklin’s immortal song from Arrested Development. “It ain’t easy being white/ it ain’t easy being brown. All this pressure to be bright/ I’ve got children all over town.” Yeah, you’re my bro and my brother.