Till My Head Falls Off 04.26.03: Dixie-Chicked!

For Your Listening Pleasure
The Bad Plus – These Are The Vistas

Last week, I spewed out some thoughts on Nirvana, and mentioned that I would occasionally dedicate college radio shows to Kurt Cobain on the anniversary of his death. My focus for one particular tribute show was covers of Nirvana songs as well as songs that were written for or about Kurt (“Weight of the World” by the Samples, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Tearjerker”, or anything from Neil Young’s Sleeps With Angels, for example), and it’s kind’ve amazing to hear the different, random versions of Nirvana songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (my favorite: Tori Amos’ cover) and “All Apologies” (most notable: the recently retired Sinead O’Connor version). Add The Bad Plus’ hip, jazzy rendition of “Teen Spirit” to the list of tributes to the song that put a stamp on the Nirvana/grunge era.

News to You
Where to begin…

In a week that featured yet another Michael Jackson TV special, the debut of “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson’s CD at NUMBER ONE, and — on a more serious tip — the imminent FCC decision paving the way for further deregulation, THIS juicy piece of news gets thrown my way:

The “Beverly Hills 90210: 10-Year High School Reunion” is set to air on Fox, Sunday, May 11. Can you say “HAPPY FREAKIN’ MOTHER’S DAY”?!

Here’s the best part: Jason Priestley, Luke Perry, Jennie Garth, Gabrielle Carteris and Shannen Doherty are all scheduled to appear. I’m guessing Ian Ziering and that chick that played Claire aren’t too far behind (it’s not like she’s got job offers coming out of her ears after that thrilling job on BOTH episodes of “girls club” last Fall), as well as David Silver and… NAT. But here’s the funny part. Tori Spelling, daughter of series creator Aaron Spelling, has “moved on”, according to Page Six. That’s right. BRENDA — who was barely mentioned in the last retrospective — will be there, but daddy’s little girl has moved on.

Moved on to WHAT? Since “90210” ended in 2000, she’s been in Scary Movie 2, some movie called Sol Goode (starring Jamie Kennedy, Cheri Oteri and JASON BATEMAN), and a TV show called “So Downtown”. Oh wait, that series was never picked up. Neither was another pilot she was working on for Fox. Hmmm…

At least Tiffany Thiessan has a job.

Dixie-Chicked!

Photo credit: New York Post

Why do we care so much about what a few singers and actors think about foreign policy anyway?

I find it incredibly funny how much attention the media has given to Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon and the Dixie Chicks leading up to and during the war in Iraq. On one hand, we’re saying that “they’re just celebrities, they don’t know what they’re talking about”, and on the other hand, we’re dedicating hours upon hours of TV and radio airtime, and pages upon pages of newspaper and magazine space on what they think. This one’s a traitor, that one doesn’t know what he’s talking about… let’s put a microphone in front of them!

I have no problem with ANY one stating his or her opinion about ANY thing at ANY time. In fact, I relish it, and have been known to attend rallies for causes I didn’t necessarily support, just to observe Americans expressing themselves. The real humor, though, comes in the hypocrisy that so many analysts are missing here. If you choose to exercise your freedom of speech, don’t forget that those who disagree with what you say share this freedom with you.

Let me clarify with a few examples:

• If a member of the Dixie Chicks publicly says that she is ashamed that President Bush is from her state, that’s perfectly fine. She’s got every right to believe that and to let the world know. And country music fans have every right to use their freedom of speech to stop purchasing Dixie Chicks albums, call up radio stations to complain, and boycott magazines that feature them on the cover.

• Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have every right to protest the war. Like it or not, they are celebrities, they have access to a wide audience, and they may very well feel a moral obligation to speak out against what they feel is unjust or hasty military action. What I hope they realize, however, is that the reason they are celebrities, and have this wide audience, is because people want to pay to see them. They should know that by speaking their minds, they risk alienating a segment of the public that is partially responsible for their celebrity. Sarandon and Robbins don’t have to shut up, but people who disagree with their views don’t have to watch their movies, invite them to awards shows or include them in, say, a Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony. (And, in turn, by un-inviting them from the ceremony, the Hall of Fame risks backlash from those who agree with Sarandon and Robbins’ views.)

• From The Wedding Singer…

Man: “We’re paying you to sing, not share your thoughts on life!”

Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler): “Well I have a microphone and you don’t… so you will listen to every damn word I have to say!”

My last point: Eddie Vedder does have the microphone, and can indeed make concert goers listen to what he has to say should he decide to comment on the Bush administration or the war in Iraq. But there’s a time and a place for political commentary, and if fans don’t want to hear it, they have every right to walk out before the lights come up.

No sensible person can believe that you lose your right to speak out for or against something that’s in your heart JUST because you’re a celebrity. But being a celebrity doesn’t mean that no one will disagree with you, with just as much passion.

I don’t look to politicians for their opinions on the arts and entertainment, even though they have every right to their feelings. Similarly, when I go to see a movie I do so as an escape, not to hear politics preached at me; and when I go to a concert, as Eddie Vedder said late last year in a very interesting article in The Nation, sometimes I just want to rock out:

“If people want to go for the guns and booze aspect of rock and roll, then it’s there. And it should be. One of the best ways to deal with some problems every once in a while is to dance all over them. At the end of the day, you’ve done all your thinking–maybe you voted that day or you held a sign up, and you’ve talked with your friend and you’ve kind of got as far as you could get with the issues. You’re not going to be able to do anything about it at 1 in the morning. So you’re splitting a twelve-pack with a friend, so what do you do now? You rock out. There’s a time and a place for everything.” — Eddie Vedder

Indeed.

Fun With Spellchecker!
Did you happen to know that if you run the surname of US Senator Rick Santorum through spellchecker, you get… sanitarium? Hmmm…

Festival Update
Field Day is almost sold out! I’m pretty sure I’m going, but I just realized tickets are pretty pricey, so if anyone can comp me two tickets, please email me at moodspins@aol.com, ok?

Latest line-up:

Saturday, June 7
Radiohead
Beck
Underworld
Thievery Corporation
Spiritualized
Interpol
Röyksopp
Dashboard Confessional
Beth Orton
Tortoise
Thursday
Liz Phair
The Raveonettes
Ben Lee
My Morning Jacket
Gemma Hayes
22-20s

Sunday, June 8
Beastie Boys
Sigur Rós
Blur
The Roots
The Streets
Elliott Smith
N.E.R.D.
Bright Eyes
Le Tigre
The Sea and Cake
Luna
Blackalicious
Ben Kweller
Peanut Butter Wold
The Music
The Polyphonic Spree
Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players
Particle
Ours

C’mon, like this isn’t worth it JUST for Liz Phair on day one, and Trachtenburg on day two…

peace. love. moe.

– Matt

Till My Head Falls Off can be found weekly on 411 Music (old columns are archived in the pull-down menu below). Already hit everything on 411? You can find more from Matthew Michaels at moodspins and 1-42.