This week George Jones, by consensus one of the greatest of country singers, passed away. Have to admire his ability to tell a story (as in the wonderfully rich Southern California, a duet with Tammy Wynette) but also his ability to make a story:
…make no mistake, he could be menacing, a word that came to be
associated with Jones for much of his life. To sugarcoat his worst
impulses is to ignore the truth: When Jones was drunk, coked up or
otherwise out of his mind, he turned bad. In "I Lived to Tell It All,"
Jones' astonishingly honest 1996 autobiography, he tells of being drunk
on his tour bus and shooting five bullets from a .38 near a teetotaling
manager who wouldn't join him in finishing a bottle of vodka.
Jones once drove a lawn mower to a liquor store after his wife hid
his car keys, and then sang about it in a ditty called "Honky Tonk
Song": "I saw those blue lights flashing over my left shoulder / He
walked right up and said 'Get off that riding mower.'" Jones was one of a
kind — in both the best and worst use of the term.
"Toward the end of their touring behind Pleased to Meet Me, the
Replacements gigged in Portland, Oregon with the Young Fresh Fellows
opening. And in the history of notorious Replacements shows, this one
ranks high. Though it’s difficult to nail down the exact story behind
the fabled night, the following anecdotes show up repeatedly: the ‘Mats
pelting the Young Fresh Fellows with various objects during their set;
the band breaking into a room (the show was held at the now-defunct Pine
Street Theatre) purloining costumes (of which they then wore ontstage);
the band being far too drunk to play effectively; clothes being taken
off and thrown into the audience — and the audience, in some cases,
returning the favor. This last part is my personal favorite as
apparently Tommy Stinson remembered, after throwing his clothes into the
crowd, that he had left ten dollars in his pocket. After raging at the
crowd to throw his pants back, he instead rifled through the clothes
thrown on stage, located twenty dollars in a pocket, and danced around
the stage in victory. Another account just reported that they stumbled
through a set of less than 45 minutes, played a cover of Bryan Adams’
“Summer of ’69″ and then split. Either way, a typical ‘Mats show."
Is it possible that the desire to tell a story is part of a desire to be dramatic? To be a diva, an acter-out, a drama queen? And that genre is less important than that desire to live in drama?
Regardless, you have to love the Replacements for writing a song about the city they dissed — and at the end apologizing for their antics. "Portland, I'm sorry." To apologize to an entire city! Reckless charm.
Like the lyrics:
Shared a cigarette for breakfast
Shared an airplane ride for lunch
Sitting in between a ghost
And a walking bowl of punch
Can you play a little hunch?
Predicting a delay on landing
Well I predict we'll have a drink
Lost my money on the first hand
Got burned on a big fat king
And your ears are gonna ring
And your eyes just wanna close
Nothing changing I suppose