Who knew JJ could be so fascinating?
I’m still waiting to get to the part where he delves into not being black enough. That he was too commercial and went through a very dark period…pardon the pun, but he was not laughing when he referenced it.
Jimmie talks about going to the Apollo. He gives a history of the Chitlin’ Circuit. Not boasting, it’s just that Maron’s pulling it out of him, and even if you’re a baby boomer, some of this stuff will be news to you.
But what’s most fascinating is the credit given to Cheech & Chong. Jimmie says it was the duo that changed comedy forever, not Carlin and Pryor, they followed in their footsteps.
Jimmie credits Lou Adler. Who is now known as the guy who sits next to Jack Nicholson at Laker games, but once was the arbiter of what was cool and hip, who not only worked with Jan & Dean, the Mamas and the Papas, Monterey Pop and ultimately Carole King, but signed Cheech & Chong.
Jimmie couldn’t believe it. He saw the duo in San Francisco. How was this gonna get on TV, with all the swearing and drug references?
And the Cheech & Chong albums ended up at the top of the chart. That’s how I found out about them, an avid “Billboard” reader going to college in the hinterlands…what was this?
Jimmie said comedy used to be Alan King. Something the whole family watched together on “Ed Sullivan.” The whole family was not going to be listening to Cheech & Chong, your parents weren’t gonna get it, the establishment would be horrified, their comedy was made just for you.
Today everybody’s making music for everybody. It’s the MTV hangover. Everybody wants to go global, achieve world domination, and this is what kills them.
Blame the baby boomers. Who believe they’re still hip, even though they aren’t. They get plastic surgery and diet down even thinner than their progeny to become their kids’ best friends. What a load of hogwash. In the sixties, your parents were never your best friends. You kept secrets, you didn’t share intimacies, it was clear who was boss…and it wasn’t you. Parents disciplined. Your goal was to get out of the house. Now kids come home from college and stay there. And you wonder why our culture is in the dumper.
Then again, kids own tech. Baby boomers are amazed. How do you know all this when there’s no manual and no class? Kids know tech instinctively. They’re forming app and Internet companies on the fly, just like their parents used to form bands. The parents don’t get it.
And the parents never got the Beatles.
History has been rewritten. Baby boomers hated Frank Sinatra in the sixties. If you came of age in the sixties, you even hated Elvis Presley. But you never wanted to listen to your parents’ music. Today parents wean their kids on the Beatles and they’re all in it together, makes my stomach turn.
Want to be successful?
Appeal to the niche. Don’t go for every living body. If someone wants in, don’t push them away, but don’t actively court them. Nothing turns fans away more than you appealing to people that they don’t even like. If it’s made for me, why should you be interested?
On one hand Lady Gaga does this so well. Her music isn’t for everyone and she’s all about her alienated tribe. But she plays to the mainstream media, with all the costume changes and pronouncements, and now her career is top-heavy. She’s not known for her music, but her identity. If she doesn’t release great music in the future, she’ll topple. The Beatles had one hit after another, Gaga’s been on an endless victory tour.
And fads are more evident than ever. Whether it be Carly Rae Jepsen or PSY. They’re here today and gone tomorrow, no different from the Human Beinz’s “Nobody But Me” and Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”
And the waters are muddied by everybody’s ability to get in the game and tell you about it. Not realizing they’re not good enough and the public is immune to hype.
Music has become lowest common denominator.
And one can argue Cheech & Chong were too. But they were the first. The first to sell the drug culture. Which was burgeoning. Whereas everybody in music today is positively me-too. I mean if Taylor Swift uses Max Martin, do we have any hope of having someone to believe in, who rejects the money culture and is solely concerned with personal exploration and truth?
We’re in a bankrupt moment culturally in music. Hell, the only thing interesting is EDM. Which is not that different from Cheech & Chong. Radically different from everything else in the landscape. With no words. Appealing with its beat. Oldsters don’t get it. And youngsters clamor.
But what’s truly interesting is what comes next. What follows through the door EDM has opened. What greatness that is made for this same audience that doesn’t appeal to baby boomers and network television. Hell, EDM sucks on television…ain’t that the point?