Re the “Where are they now” column by entertainment lawyer and pop culture cop Bob Lefsetz, here are his retorts to the presumably many critiques of hiss disses on The Boss, Jim McMahon, Mellencamp and The Stones.
HE can’t remember his Super Bowl victory, not me. I mean come on, I’m gonna forget Refrigerator Perry?!
Once upon a time, mainstream media reached everybody, not only the seven o’clock news, but “Time,” “Newsweek” and “Sports Illustrated.” Now SI puts Jim McMahon on its cover, with a lengthy article about his football-induced dementia, and almost no one gets the memo.
As for reading the story, you can’t, unless you’re a subscriber. Put your stuff behind a paywall and you might make some shekels, but you’re killing virality. And you need virality to grow.
Speaking of virality, I read the McMahon article at the doctor’s office. And it stuck with me for days thereafter. I couldn’t help but write about it, I’ve been talking about it ever since.
As for McMahon’s inability to remember his Super Bowl victory, I read that previously. The point being today it’s about the cumulative effect. One promotional/publicity point has no impact. You’ve got to stay in the game, pardon the pun. As for front-loaded publicity, where you blow your wad all at once… That’s even easier to ignore and put down, because people can see the manipulation. The public knows if it keeps on hearing about you, then you might be real. you’ve got a chance. Kind of like “Gone Girl.” I ignored the initial hype, but when I kept hearing about it I was intrigued. But I didn’t buy it until I read the word “literary” attached to it. Well, then I downloaded the sample chapter, got hooked and bought it. Even Amazon knows it’s about giving a taste, selling art like drugs.
P.S. The McMahon story has now been posted online for free. Read it: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1205982/index.htm
In case you don’t know, he credits himself as “Little Bastard” on his LPs. And he wrote a piece on the HuffPo the other day:
There’s something about the guy that’s incredibly off-putting. As if you touched him he’d writhe in pain. He’s prickly.
Now I liked a lot of his music. I give him credit for not repeating himself, taking chances artistically. But if you’re going to comment on tech, you have to be better informed. Otherwise, you’re just made fun of or ignored.
As for the article, it’s almost too long to read.
I hate his fans more than the man.
But I do deplore his groveling in front of them.
But the Boss gets an undue amount of press. I hate to sound like a Republican bitching about the left wing liberal media, but it’s the same thing. Most people don’t care about Bruce Springsteen. Hell, Meat Loaf endorsing Romney got more ink than the Boss appearing with Clinton. Then again, not many rockers endorse Republicans.
She’s selling religion. The music is only an entrance point. People need something to believe in, and she’s it. Bieber is just hormonal mania, puppy love. But in a world full of bullying and blind alleys, Gaga is someone you can attach yourself to, hold up as a beacon. This is the way all rock stars used to be. Before Jon Bon Jovi started shilling for Avon:
“I don’t believe in magic
I don’t believe in I Ching
I don’t believe in Bible
I don’t believe in tarot
I don’t believe in Hitler
I don’t believe in Jesus
I don’t believe in Kennedy
I don’t believe in Buddha
I don’t believe in mantra
I don’t believe in Gita
I don’t believe in yoga
I don’t believe in kings
I don’t believe in Zimmerman
I don’t believe in Beatles
I just believe in me
Yoko and me
And that’s reality”
My friend Larry Solters was the PR guy for Ticketmaster during the Pearl Jam debacle. Solters told the brass you can’t win by attacking the acts.
And you can’t. Because they’re the repository of all the hopes and dreams of their fans.
Face it, life is rough. It doesn’t work out the way you want it to. You’re too broke, too unhealthy and without the love you desire.
But these acts… They’re singing from their heart. You listen to their music and you forget your problems. You go to the show and you feel life is worth living.
So criticize the acts at your peril.
The point I’m making is acts have a responsibility. To quote the old bard, to live outside the law you’ve got to be honest. First and foremost, you’ve got to want to live outside the law, that’s why you become an artist, because you just can’t play the game, you just can’t handle the b.s., you think it’s a joke. But once you go down the road less traveled, you’ve got to stay on it. You can’t suddenly want to work 9 to 5, have a guaranteed income and a pension. You’ve got a responsibility to your fans.
But most acts don’t have fans. These issues never come into play.
Then there are giants, like John Lennon. He won the lottery, he lived the dream. But what he’s saying in “God” is it doesn’t work, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be, everybody is equal, follow your own dreams, have faith in yourself.
But people are sheep. Rather than expand their minds, they’d rather just follow someone else, blindly.
Better to follow Lennon and Dylan than charlatans, but just think of the power of those with huge fan bases. Just think what they can achieve.
Then think how hollow the exercise usually is. That life is so sad that people refuse to think for themselves, to confront their demons.
If you’re not questioning authority, if you’re not thinking outside of the box, you’re not an innovator, but a follower. The more you grow your gangs and stand on your soapbox the more the true revolutionaries ignore you. Did Steve Jobs compromise? Neil Young rarely has. And isn’t it interesting that Neil Young still has an audience when so many of his contemporaries do not.
Artists are true to themselves.
But fame is a game. Oftentimes manipulated by men you can’t see. Making you believe in flesh and blood that oftentimes has no more insight than you do.
Question your heroes. Push them to greatness. Know that your belief must be earned.
And if you’re starting down the path of stardom know that wealth and fame do not solve a human being’s problems. You can be just as lonely and at loose ends as a rock star as you can as a homeless person. Therefore, the work must keep you warm, must keep you happy. Just doing it must be enough.