Hey hey! Merry Christmas (or whatever godless pagan ritual you celebrate in your backwards belief system) everyone! Sorry the wires have been silent over here, but I’ve been traveling through the hills and valleys of rural Missouri with my family in tow, wiping my ass with corn cobs and eating possum sloppy joes. In short, it’s been a magical yuletide. It’s been so magical, in fact, that I almost forgot to give y’all your Christmas present. Okay, ready? Here goes:
This is the link to a stream of my new song “A Man With The Passion Of Tennessee Williams” hosted by our buddies over at AP. This song will stream today and then tomorrow, you’ll be able to legally (ha!) download it as part of a three song EP, which also features an acoustic demo of the song “Suffer the Children, Come Unto Me” (which is a [probably highly bastardized] quote from our favorite birthday boy/hippy with a god complex, Jesus). The EP will also feature the demo/only version in existence of “I’d Rather Die than Live Forever,” which is generally a bit more aggressive and traditional in terms of what you may expect from my output. Those three songs will be available via iTunes and Red Scare tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec 27, so start saving your pennies now.
“Suffer the Children” will appear in a very different form on the Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds full length, which will come out in March via Red Scare and be available digitally, on vinyl and on cd (if you’re some kind of fucking caveman or something). All of this is very exciting, so I’ll just give you guys a second and let you go listen to the new song.
Okay, you back? Pretty amazing, eh? Totally. I wrote this song about two years ago and finally recorded it in the pantry of my friend Noelle’s parents’ kitchen last summer where I played everything but the beat. After it was all done, I was so stoked on how it turned out that I decided to push forward and do a whole record. This is that same version of that song that I recorded in that pantry, and it’s about as indicative of the sound of the record as anything (which isn’t saying much. The record is pretty all over the place in terms of style and sound).
Anyway, this song is about the “everyone’s a brilliant genius who can do absolutely anything spectacularly” mindset that exists in our country and specifically in any and all countercultures. The direct inspiration for this song was the terrible movie Garden State, specifically the scene where Natalie Portman writhes and squeals and pops like a cat with a lithium bubble in its brain and then points out that her little tard-spasm was cosmically great because no one has ever done that before. This is a microcosm of the mindset that seems to go into almost all art these days. “If I do it, and it’s unique (which it isn’t, more often than not), it’s gonna be brilliant, because just by using my own Unique and Important brain I am destined to make brilliant movies and play brilliant music and I’m a Very Important Voice In Youth Culture! You know why? Simply because I’m doing it at all!
The truth, of course is that most people absolutely suck at things and nowhere is that more apparent than when a misguided soul (almost anyone who ever attempts to create anything) decides to remove the collaborative process and set out as the sole visionary of an ambitious undertaking. Collaboration is an important tool used by all your favorite artists for a reason, because even two idiots, while bouncing ideas off each other, can come to remarkable conclusions that would otherwise be unattainable by any single human mind. Without fail, all the most interesting and dynamic bits or changes that have ever happened in any Lawrence Arms song (not to be totally myopic, but simply because it’s the process I have the most experience with) were the results of someone messing up and the resulting sound being cooler than what was already there. That stuff was literally not written by anyone, but discovered by accident. That’s the brilliance of collaboration.
One of the ultimate manifestations of visionary hubris gone awry is, of course, the failed-experiment-turned-highly-successful-cultural-punchline-for-the-very-same-talentless-self-important-visionary-hipster-dipshits-it-unwittingly-lampoons, the cult classic film the Room by New Orleans native (really?) and veiny assed hardbody, Tommy Wiseau.
I’ve written about this movie before, but suffice it to say, if you’ve never seen it, it’s so terrible that it’s fascinating. It’s the singular vision of this weird eastern European guy (that looks like he could have played Keyboards for Winger or something) who wrote, starred in, directed and tirelessly promoted this film which is amazing particularly because it seems that at every single point where he had to make any decision, from a word choice in the script, to a plot point, to casting, to costuming, to directing style, to shot choice, to the motivation of his or any character…. In every single choice along the endlessly windy road of doing a feature film by yourself, he made the wrong one.
Interestingly, the world of disaffected and untalented hipsterdom embraced this as an ironic tour de force, probably not getting the greater irony which is that Wiseau is doing something that brings hipsters out in droves, which is the ultimate unattainable goal of every single last dingus that enjoys the Room from an ironic distance. If ONLY your shitty band/bike collective/book of poems/shitty film/crappy novel had the same temporary and pointless impact of the Room and Tommy Wiseau, you’d be hailed as a genius by idiots! What accolades!
Anyway, that’s enough of that. Tommy Wiseau marketed the Room as “a film with the passion of Tennessee Williams” which I find to be fascinating for a few reasons. Firstly, no one’s gonna give a fuck about the Room in about five minutes. Secondly, it seems like an incredibly arbitrary choice for Wiseau to make (though I guess the theme of love triangulation runs through both men’s most famous work [AND Wiseau does somehow claim to be from New Orleans, despite the fact he’s obviously Belarusian or something]) and finally, because my grandparents and my uncle are buried right beside Tennessee Williams, so I feel a strange familial connection to him, despite the fact that it’s almost certainly just coincidence, and therefore Wiseau’s correlation bugs me even more than it should.
SO!!! I wrote this song about a mindframe that seeks to validate all the unvetted, unearned accolades it’s collected throughout its young life through singularly imagined works of crappy art, and I did this on an ambitious record I conceived and shaped all by myself and I actually really enjoy the Room for the very reasons I oh-so-shittily put forth above, and the volatility of the whole thing is not lost on me. The fact that Wiseau and the Room seem to be past their expiration date and the title of this song is now as dated and pointless a reference as saying “that’s a thing that’ll make ya go hmmmmmm” in a conversation is actually an unforeseen testament to the whole idea of this stupid song and a pointed reminder that I’m no smarter than any of the rest of these turds out here changing the world with their profoundly stupid art.
Anyway, enjoy. See you shits in January.