Friday, September 24, 2010

Outlaws, my eye

Last night at "work", I found myself listening to some soft rock music piped in for atmosphere and the song "Ride Like The Wind" by Christopher Cross came on. It's been a long time since I heard it so I paid attention to the lyrics. And after carefully considering them, all I can say is: Bullshit.
For starters, this is a picture of Christopher Cross:


Try to ignore that he looks like your Aunt Shelly who lives in Boca Raton with her "best friend" Susan (or don't) but do try to focus on him being the guy behind these lyrics:


It is the night. My body's weak.
I'm on the run. No time to sleep.
I've got to ride.

Ride like the wind to be free again.
And I got such a long way to go.
To make it to the border of Mexico.
So I'll ride like the wind.

I was born the son of a lawless man.
Always spoke my mind with a gun in my hand.
Lived nine lives
gunned down ten.
Gonna ride like the wind.

(chorus)

Accused and tried and told to hang
I was no where in sight
when the church bells rang.
Never was the kind to do as I was told.
Gonna ride like the wind before I get old.

That's not Lil' Wayne or TI, that's the guy picture above, the one who looks like he's waiting for his longtime companion to fetch another round of mimosas. The song doesn't mention what the unspeakable crime was (it's that unspeakable!) but I can't even imagine the authorities being that worried about nailing Christopher Cross before he escapes across the border. "Attention all units: Keep an eye out for a doughy white guy...wait, what? He might be with Michael McDonald? This changes everything; TWO doughy white guys, fugitives, believed to be heading for Mexico. Apprehend on sight...but don't, like, put yourself out or anything. Maybe just beef up patrols around the breakfast bar at the Chula Vista Shoney's. That should be fine."
I don't mean to pick on Christopher Cross. Because it seems to me that by and large, rock and roll stars do a pretty shitty job of portraying bad asses and outlaws. Oh sure, there are some legitimate bad asses out there. But for every band that comes across more like a street gang than a rock band, you get four or five skeevy, Kid Rock-like posers. Or worse, for every Toby Keith you get a Toby Keith. That's right, this guy...

Really doesn't want you to know about this guy...

Hey, I don't remember Toby Keith being in DeBarge! Say meow, kitty.
But where the illusion really falls down is in the songs. Here are some truly laughable attempts by some well-known artists to spin tales of rock 'n roll desperado derring-do...

PAUL MCCARTNEY & WINGS: BAND ON THE RUN
Well, the rain exploded with a mighty crash as we fell into the sun
And the first one said to the second one there I hope you're having fun
Band On The Run, Band On The Run.
And the jailer man and Sailor Sam were searching everyone
For the band on the run
Band on the run
Band on the run
Band on the run
And the jailer man and Sailor Sam were searching every one
So Paul and his mates have escaped from jail into the desert where he swears they'll never be found, presumably free to live out their days performing concerts for local indigents and smoking whatever vegetation they come across (which I'm pretty sure would be Paul McCartney's dream come true). This in spite of the local authorities enlisting the help of some naval personnel to apprehend them. Normally, you'd think this kind of thing would fall out of their jurisdiction but if you're stationed at a naval base in the middle of some damn desert, what else do you have to do?

THE STEVE MILLER BAND: TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN
This heres a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothin better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose

They headed down to, ooh, old El Paso
That's where they ran into a great big hassle
Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobbie Sue took the money and run

Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He aint gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin off of the peoples taxes

Bobbie Sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up to her the very next day
They got the money, hey
You know they got away
They headed down south and they're still running today
Singin go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Well, now we're getting somewhere! Steve Miller isn't singing about himself or his band as fugitives on the run. Instead, he casts a couple of TV-addled burnouts in those roles. Okay, so it's not the legend of Butch and Sundance but at least it's believable for a change. I can even believe they got away (in spite of the honorable public servant Mack's dedication to his job, if they got across the border, there's nothing he can do about it) and are still running today...but possibly not together. Bobbie Sue tried to ditch Billy Joe once. It's impossible to believe she wouldn't try it again. Theirs is not a relationship built on trust.

BON JOVI: WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE and BLAZE OF GLORY
It's all the same, only the names will change
Everyday it seems we're wasting away
Another place where the faces are so cold
I'd drive all night just to get back home

I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I'm wanted dead or alive
Wanted dead or alive

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it's not for days
And the people I meet always go their separate ways
Sometimes you tell the day
By the bottle that you drink
And times when you're alone all you do is think

I walk these streets, a loaded six string on my back
I play for keeps, 'cause I might not make it back
I been everywhere, and I'm standing tall
I've seen a million faces an I've rocked them all

I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I'm wanted dead or alive
I'm a cowboy, I got the night on my side
I'm wanted dead or alive
And I ride, dead or alive
I still drive, dead or alive
Dead or alive

I wake up in the morning
And I raise my weary head
I've got an old coat for a pillow
And the earth was last night's bed
I don't know where I'm going
Only God knows where I've been
I'm a devil on the run
A six gun lover
A candle in the wind, yeah

When you're brought into this world
They say you're born in sin
Well at least they gave me something
I didn't have to steal or have to win
Well, they tell me that I'm wanted
Yeah, I'm a wanted man
I'm a colt through your stable
I'm what Cain was to Abel
Mister catch me if you can

I'm going down (down) in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth
I'm going out (out) in a blaze of glory
And Lord, I never drew first but I drew first blood
I'm no one's son, call me young gun

You ask about my conscience
And I offer you my soul
You ask if I'll grow to be a wise man
Well I ask if I'll grow old
You ask me if I've known love
And what it's like to sing songs in the rain
Well I've seen love come, I've seen it shot down
I've seen it die in vain

Shot down (down) in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth
'Cause I'm going down (down) in a blaze of glory
Lord, I never drew first but I drew first blood
I'm the devil's son, call me young gun, na... yeah

Each night I go to bed
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
No I ain't looking for forgiveness
But before I'm six foot deep
Lord, I gotta ask a favor
And I hope you'll understand
'Cause I've lived life to the fullest
Let this boy die like a man
Staring down a bullet
Let me make my final stand

Shot down (down) in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth
I'm going out (out) in a blaze of glory
Lord, I never drew first but I drew first blood
I'm no one's son, call me young gun
I'm a young gun, yeah
Young gun, yeah..., Young gun
One time I went to a hockey game with a friend. An advertisement for an upcoming Bon Jovi concert came on the jumbotron and he just started laughing hysterically. I didn't really get that at the time but upon listening to songs like this/these, I do now. I entered this as one entry because I wasn't sure it was two songs. And reading it like this, I'm still not sure. It's like The Godfather and The Godfather II of cheesy, Aquanet-drenched, nihilistic rock 'n roll acid-washed denim outlaw cowboy fantasies and now I don't know how more people don't just burst into hysterics upon hearing the first chords, knowing the full-of-shitness that follows. Unlike the other examples posted above, Bon Jovi doesn't escape and doesn't even seem to want to, I guess because some people still think a doomed anti-hero is somehow cooler than somebody who actually has their shit together enough to get themselves out of their own predicament. But the boasting here doesn't sound cool or particularly tough, at least not consistently; one minute he's a devil on the run, the next he's a candle in the wind? Is he Marilyn Manson or Marilyn Monroe? And he's wanted for what, rocking faces? I guess a million of them is a lot, but exactly how many faces are you allowed to rock before it's a felony, punishable by death?
This is what I imagine it sounds like when some dumbass, lily-white, punk-ass teenager from a gated suburb community gets locked up in the county jail for a couple of hours because he thought it would be funny to throw his soft drink at the clerk in a fast food drive thru and got caught so he feels the need to invent a tough backstory to try to impress the actual thugs he finds himself in there with in the hopes that it keeps them from ripping off the tightey-whiteys his mom just washed for him that day and turning him into some guy named Big Rob's girlfriend.
What a punk-ass. By comparison, Christopher Cross comes across like Scarface Capone.

1 comment:

AlexTheOutlaw said...

Everybody likes to think theyre a bad ass!