Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Who Needs Emo when there's Cash...

Okay, its sad when the highlight of your day is heading out after work to visit the new Super Wally World that just opened up here in Oxford...but I knew that was the only place where I could get my Uncle Sam's Cereal...my favorite foodstuff...haven't had any to eat since I left Baton Rouge.

While there, I perused the music section and picked up some new discs. Say what you want about Wal-Mart, but they are actually improving their music selection, especially in terms of back catalog stuff. Still won't buy one of their edited PG hip-hop albums, but they've loaded up on the Sony remasters of the old Johnny Cash albums, the classic albums like Orange Blossom Special, Live at San Quentin, Ride This Train, and the gospel stuff.

Was flipping through the music when I spotted this mopey looking high school kid ... you know, the fake "I'm rejected and alone" kind of kid who's neither rejected or actually alone, but likes the image that's marketed to his fragile id like crack in the ghetto. The Chris Carrabas/Dashboard Confessional stereotypical emo kid.

Emo - (n.) Short for Emotional pop music. A
musical form of marketing...er...music aimed at convincing people that, yeah, the world sucks, yeah, it'll never change, and yeah, that girl in high school didn't like you because you weren't popular enough. Wow...deep shit there. Get some therapy, people! Some of itis great music, but there's only so many sad songs one can listen to before going insane...

I made a bit of small talk with him, complimented him on his Ramones
t-shirt (I have a feeling he bought the t-shirt at some mall...sigh), and then
asked him what he was looking to buy. He was, of course, trying to decide
between one of two Bright Eyes CDs. He wanted to buy both, but didn't have
thirty bucks to blow on music.

He asked me what I was into, what I was looking at buying. I told him I was
debating buying out the Johnny Cash section with my tax refund money. He laughed
and said he liked the cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" because, well, who
doesn't like that song.

Goody. Time to corrupt Emo Boy and bring him back into the land of the
Living, Breathing God that Is the Soul of Music. I felt giddy, like a mad
scientist with a fresh brain to tamper with...

I showed him some of how to buy the good ol' fashioned Truck Stop 5.99
Compilation albums - more good music for your money. We talked and I helped him
pick out some great Delta Blues cheapies with the likes of John Lee Hooker
("Boom Boom Boom") and Lightning Hopkins, Etta James, Hank Williams, Woody
Guthrie, the Carter Family, Run-DMC, Tone Loc, Dolly Parton, and, of course,
Johnny Cash.

He wanted to take another comp. that didn't look as cheap; I told him if he
were going to buy a compilation of Cash, it had to include "Folsom Prison
Blues."

"It sounds too depressing..." The kid, James, said. Coming from a kid about
to buy Bright Eyes because MTV, FUSE, and the so-called "Indie" zines say its
cool, blew my frigging mind. I like Bright Eyes personally, but Conor Oberst,
from what I've seen and heard about him, is a brilliant, normal guy with the
same hopes, fears, and dreams as normal folks. Christ, he's from Nebraska!

"It is...a...very....dark...song," I said, slowly, like Satan tempting
Christ through plastic packaging. "It contains the sickest, most tortured line
in music history...


I killed a man in Reno/just to watch him die/every time I hear that whistle blowing/I hang my head and cry..."

Sounds cool. I heard Johnny Cash is a huge influence of Conor Oberst."

"Johnny Cash influenced everybody, dude. That's why he's cool."

The kid walked away with fifty dollars' worth of music - was so excited he decided to put it on his mom's credit card with the catfood and milk he'd driven from Indiana to pick up. Totally forgot the Bright Eyes stuff - sorry Conor, but Spin, CMJ, and Rolling Stone are making you enough money. And I think you'd be proud that the kid found something new.

That's the problem with so many younger music fans today....they listen to things. Music isn't a thing. Its not slick marketing or depressing songs or supermodel haircuts or clothes or merchandise. Music is a feeling, a conversation between listener and songsmith.

The "Music As Thing" model record labels push is worthless outside the packaging, marketing, and media relations; real music sets you free. Real music is about struggle AND torment, redemption AND vengance, passion AND heartbreak. And its about survival. And that's what makes it art, even in a Wal Mart bargain bin.

Christ, I thought this kid was going to hug me. I told him his high school buddies would probably call him uncool for buying this kind of music.

"Fuck 'em. If they can't like me for what I listen to, then I don't fucking need them."

Fuck 'em, indeed. Jamie Boy, you don't know it yet, but you've just become the coolest kid in your high school. Coolness of this level is monumental and cannot be contained by something as trivial as pop culture....

Coolness is, after all, eternal. So's Johnny Cash.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Sweetie Pie,
Good to see you've joined the Information Age a little more...why the fuck are you still single?

What about that girl? Daniele? I heard you had it pretty bad for this chick...What straight girl in her right mind wouldn't want a guy like you...

You're sweet, intelligent, and I think the Cash essay may have given me an orgasm...(partially kidding)Someone told me it was some kind of weird love triangle thing, but, like I said, unless she's smoking crack, she'd choose you, man.

If she didn't, then, hey, its her loss. When I was 19, I thought guys like you were fairy tales. You're still the only guy to blow my...um...yeah...down by the creek, behind Kona's, SLO Town...you are such an amazing kisser...

Devine Ms. T :)
Berkley, Calif.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Nice to know that I can do some things right ;) That was 2000, right? Wow.

The Danielle thing is, well, I don't know. I told her how I feel about her, and she won't tell me anything about how she feels for me.

Not I don't have any feelings, not I do have feelings, nada.
She seems to think this adds some aura of mystery, but I find it pretty damn frustrating.

I'm rolling with the punches. I think I'm going to chill on it for a while, see what she comes back with.

And you're not too bad a kisser yourself, hon.

Jason (CPSLO Class of 01)

PieGrrl said...

Hi,
Um...I like your blog.

I'm a Miami student, I'm female, and I agree with Ms. T. Don't know about being a good kisser (wow, you get around;), but you seem like a real decent guy.

OMG! I saw you in King or Kofenya like every day last semester! This is so cool. I'm home for the summer, but I just wanted to say hi.

And if this Danielle chick doesn't work out, let me know. Sounds like she's just trying to mess with your mind - remember, some girls are crazy.Of course, she could be just like every other Miami female and so selfish and full of her own bullshit that her fragile little sheltered mind can't deal with a man...

A friend of mine was dating this half-retarded townie last year...the guy was a fucking loser, bad for her, pothead peace o shit. Then she got hooked up with another immature BOY...pissed me off.

Anyway, she dumped him becase she met a MAN, BABY! And he's fucking awesome. And you're fucking awesome, at least on your blog. Now I want to be a Zenformation groupie :)

Johnny Cash is God. Xist, I feel like I'm in confession...

Rosa :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I think you're cute too. My roomate just showed me your blog. Very cool. My boyfriend used to work in King.

Um...what's the deal with Habesha?

Becki, Oxford

The ZenFo Pro said...

Well, I appreciate the support and advice.

Habesha is an Amharic word for the people of the Ethiopian/Eritrean region of eastern Africa.

Piegrrl - Hey, not all townies are retarded, but, I think because many Miamians treat townies (Oxford has a 50% pop. below the poverty line). There are a lot of nice townies, but because of the poverty, and lack of education amongst those of our era, there's a lot of, well, slackers and stoners running around. They'll either grow out of it, stay stuck flipping burgers til they're 30, or end up in prison.

I grew up in a town like Oxford. That's what happened. I was a Townie to Longwood University students. If they don't leave the area, they'll get sucked into thinking they're just entitled to something they're not willing to work at. That's pathetic.

Thanks for joining the fun! (And the compliments)

Educated Negro said...

Brother Jasoba Fett,
What's this, cracker? Why aren't you turning kids on to that Cold Archives joint? Huh? How 'bout some 3rd Bass or Pete Rock or Aesop Rock or Common or Afrika Bambaata? Scare these rich white cats back to the day!

what? You ganna make something of it, bitch?

Anyway, I keep telling you white boys that you're all crazy motherfuckers. Peace...

You know who this is, bitch.
Later