The Defiant Ones-Episode Two

There were billboards on Sunset Boulevard.

It’s hard to fathom the music business, it’s hard to fathom Los Angeles, if you weren’t there in the seventies. The dream had died, Nixon was elected, Tom Wolfe named it the “Me Decade” and at the advent of the next decade Reagan legitimized greed, the boomers grew up, it was all about the money, but the sixties hung over.

Unlike today. People pay lip service to the music. But listening to Tom Petty, you know that’s all he is, an artist. Somehow he’s more charismatic than the Boss, more believable, he’s dark and somewhat removed and when he speaks it’s from a deep place, he’s the leader, you can either follow him or…

Jimmy followed him and then crossed him. And despite his mealy-mouthed excuse, Doug Morris nails it, Jimmy wants to WIN!

And this was before everybody got old, got plastic surgery, had their teeth fixed, when you see Stevie Nicks in action your jaw drops, she was the dream, and she’s even more delicious than you remember her, women wanted to be her, guys wanted to be with her, and she seems so damn normal back then, with all eyes upon her, WOW! That’s a star.

And Jimmy argues with Stevie in the studio, Richard Perry’s studio for those playing the home game, remember him? And you can see the genesis… Jimmy no longer wants to support the artist, he wants to BE THE ARTIST!

You think you just want to be in the room, but once you feel comfortable, you want to own the room.

As for Dre, he was all about excellence, in a parallel universe that gets short shrift in the mainstream media, in D.C. The FBI sends a letter about “F___ Tha Police,” utterly laughable, and then Obama has Jay Z and Beyonce to the White House and suddenly we’re jetted right back to the past, as if the last eight years didn’t even happen, and if you don’t think this is gonna cause an artistic blowback…

You’re enthralled by the techies and the bankers.

How many of them die? Get cut down before their time? Of course we lost Steve Jobs to cancer, but we’ve lost so many of our entertainers to misadventure, you see they were testing the limits so we didn’t have to.

But so many want to walk in their steps.

Music blew up marijuana.

But Oxy led to the opioid crisis all by itself, that’s the story of the twenty first century, the ruling of the corporations, and we have to pull ourselves back from that, through the arts.

But that’s the story in music too, THE MONEY! Jimmy tells Petty that letting Stevie cover “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” will buy him a house. At first with N.W.A. there was no money, but once they had big success, the act broke up over it. At least they included Jerry Heller in the episode, I’m not saying Jerry was a prince, but at least they don’t heap all the blame upon him. Eazy chose Jerry over Dre. We all need our protector.

And it was all about myth-making and promotion. It started long before Van Halen and the brown M&M’s, you see the public likes a good story, they like outrage, which is why they watch the “Housewives” and follow the gossip, but it used to all come from the musicians, now they’re just a sideshow.

But when you hear those N.W.A. songs they’re so powerful, not dated, they still hit you in the gut, they tell you what went on then, even if you were oblivious during the era.

And Dre gets his comeuppance, shooting paintballs on the freeway? Assaulting Dee Barnes? And they both talk about the impact of death, but the more you watch the fewer answers you’ve got. Jimmy was destined for success. Dre was the Beatles of hip-hop. We’re just observers. Oh, we can participate but almost no one can win, both Jimmy and Dre came from nothing, close to it, they lifted themselves up, became heroes to many, visionaries who broke the bank.

But you and me, we just remember the tunes.

And when you see Stevie and Petty sing together…

When you see Bono at the US Festival…

You’re reminded of what once was, and you ask yourself how in hell we got here.

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