Sunday, December 26, 2010

Michael Gira on Elton John etc/The Murk of Daily Existence/Give Me the Cramps Any Day/Take Me to the Pilot of Your Soul

When did Patti Smith stop wearing B.O.C. t-shirts? After she and Lanier broke up? Anyway, one before the fall. A barn archive photo from left: Clive Davis, Elton, Patti, Peter Frampton and John Reid. Elton holds a ribbon present from Patti prior to performing before 20,000 fans at Madison Square Garden. John-ologists will know John Reid as none other than president of Elton's Rocket Records, his personal manager for Dick James Music and a member of the Rocket Board of Directors along with Bernie Taupin and Gus Dudgeon. I plan a Frampton Humble Pie era write-up in 2011.

I recently read a great and intriguing interview with Michael Gira in Self-Titled that made me laugh out loud. Who knew that Gira and Alice Bag bonded over Elton John while Gira was in LA? Here is Alice, Michael and Rick Jaffe in late '78 or early '79 at Alice's parents' house from Alice's excellent webpage.

This of course being prior to Gira's leaving for New York to found the Swans and world-wide fame. Did I mention that he is coming to Auckland early next year and has asked Pumice personally to open the show. In the interview, Gira waxes upon his love of the Mothers, early Yes, "No New York," Dylan, Willie Nelson and Elton - in short, a sweet read:

Elton John. I listened to Elton John, David Bowie and Roxy Music obsessively when they came out. I haven't heard it in years, but the austerity of that second Elton John album stands out. In the early days he was more earnest and low-key, but I like the way he turned into Liberace. . . [a]nyway, I saw a special on Elton John on TV maybe a decade ago, and I was in awe. Creatures like him are what make the rest of us retreat and slink away into the murk of daily existence, cowering and furtive, only to emerge again when the light and sound and magic of an Elton John lures us, hypnotized, out of our dismal caves.

There are a lot of great quotes to break down, but for my pals Damon and Darren, here is Gira on "punk" - not revisionist, but let's say, honest:

Any straight-down-the-line punk rock. Anything by the Clash. Ha ha! I hate the fucking Clash! I'm sure they are (or were) nice fellows, but they always seemed like temporary rebellion music for college students. And Gang of Four--don't get me started on them. Blaaarrrgggghhhhh! Give me the Cramps any day. "Anyway, I think, ultimately, though it erupted at the right time and was an assault on complacency initially, and at least nominally aggressive and virulent--all qualities I applaud-- punk rock was music for joiners, for people who needed to be a part of something, and inevitably it became very claustrophobic and stylized. True punk rock would be Throbbing Gristle or SPK. "Then again, to contradict myself, I liked-- though I couldn't listen to them now--Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, the Germs, and later even the Buzzcocks, Magazine, Wire, the Fall, etc. Hardcore??? [It's] veiled homo music for jocks.


  1. Appreciated. Gira cracks me up.

    - Damon

  2. Veiled homo music for jocks. Nice. Wish he'd played better in Los Feliz that time. Maybe it would help if I signed these comments. Darren