I really don’t have a lot to say about David Cassidy, except that he made a lot of people really happy. That seems like a pretty awesome thing to leave behind in this world.
This clip, however, reinforces some rather nasty sexist notions. So ignore the scene in front of the song and just enjoy the bubblegum goodness.
You always saw Angus. With his schoolboy uniform and flashy solos, it was kind of impossible to miss him. Or you saw the singer–first Bon, then Brian–all raspy voices, tight jeans, and leering smiles. It didn’t matter which one it was; they were eerily interchangeable. If you were a certain type of fan, you’d watch the drummer at the back. But you almost never saw Malcolm on stage. He was always there, usually just to the singer’s left, bobbing away to the beat and strumming his guitar. Your attention would always be on the flashy exterior, never really realizing that the heart of AC/DC was pounding away unnoticed.
Malcolm Young might not have been responsible for the image AC/DC projected to its fans, but he was largely responsible for their sound. He co-wrote most of the songs you sing along with as they blare from your radio. When it was announced in 2014 that he was permanently retiring from the band because of dementia, family and fans knew it was just a matter of time. That time came a couple days ago when Malcolm left this plane at just 64. He left behind some truly kick ass music. It won’t change the fact that he was too young to go, but at least it gives everyone something to hold on to.
Note: The obligatory obituary post for AC/DC’s Malcolm Young will be coming soon. But I’ve got to get this little rant off my chest first. Plus, I think Malcolm would’ve really enjoyed hearing this tune again.
One of my dear friends on Facebook recently posted this article about some students offended by Steve Martin’s 70s novelty hit “King Tut.” Something about the performance being “blackface” and akin to using the n-word. Assuming they meant that literally, that means they’re assuming Tutankhamun was a black man. That may or may not be the case; depictions of Tut pretty much run the gamut colorwise. But seeing that he was born in a land of much sun, he probably had a bit more melanin in his skin than, say, your average Scandinavian. (Skin color is directly related to how much sun your ancestors were exposed to when evolving. Period.) But the song wasn’t meant as a commentary on race. It was meant as a commentary on the blatant commercialization surrounding the Treasures of Tutankhamun tour. It came to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1978, and my family went. (My original post of this song focused on that, written while Daddy the amateur Egyptologist was still around.) It was glorious. And it was also crass and expensive. We alone purchased I don’t know how many silly souvenirs from it. The entire country was gripped with Tut fever at the time. Why shouldn’t Steve Martin have a little fun with it?
Of course, if the instructor of the class had played this version from Saturday Night Live, then they would’ve seen Martin’s introduction and contextualization of the song. If they paid attention. And if they didn’t decide to reflexively get their hackles up over the obvious stereotypes and pure silliness of the song. He wasn’t making fun of Tutankhamun; he was making fun of all the idiots who acted like they knew something about him or ancient Egypt just because of one really spectacular art & artifact tour.
I don’t fault these kids for being aware of the bias against African-Americans in our society. I don’t fault them for trying to fight for equality. I certainly don’t fault them for fighting back against the brutality and violence many black people are faced with every day simply because of the color of their skin. They’re right, dammit. But I do fault them for not understanding the joke in this case. They missed the point. And the instructor probably missed it, too. I imagine this was presented not in the cultural light it was meant to be seen, but as a case of racial stereotyping.
Really, these kids would be offended by pretty much anything from SNL back in the 70s. You know, back when it was kind of offensive. And really, really, really funny. And truly insightful and satirical. They only know about the tame buffooning that they see today. They didn’t watch the good old days when the Not Ready For Prime Time Players and the show’s writers were both vicious and fearless. If they’re offended by “King Tut,” then they really better not ever see the Job Interview skit. They’ll really lose their shit over that one.
I was channel flipping the other day, and stopped for a moment to indulge both my love of music videos and love of really bad music. The 80s were a great time for both.
This song really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, which is sort of its appeal. I think. It is catchy. I’m also pretty sure Grace Slick was probably high on something at the time. It seems to want to be a protest against the ever-increasing corporatization of rock music, but comes out as incomprehensible pop glop. There’s a very tiny trace of the rebellion that once made the band that Slick sang for one of the symbols of rebellion and counterculturalism in the 60s.
Of course by the time “We Built This City” was released in 1985 that band had long since mutated into pop glop and had virtually disappeared. The Jefferson Airplane was one of the leading bands of psychedelic rock–the aforementioned symbol of rebellion and counterculturalism. They were also one of the few commercially successful psychedelic bands, so I guess pop glop was always in their veins. In the 70s, they made their first major transition into the Jefferson Starship and became even more poppy and gloppy. Marty Balin and Paul Kantner and Jorma Kaukonen escaped, but Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas (Balin’s replacement on vocals) hung around. “Jefferson” was dropped, and the band just became Starship in the 1980s. And the rest is pop glop history.
Really, most of Starship’s output is gloriously awful. (Have you ever heard the song they did for the 80s “classic” Mannequin? Well, you’re in for a pop treat that so sugary and gloppy, it might as well be the filling inside a pecan pie. Not even the utterly adorable Andrew McCarthy at the height of his adorableness could save that movie.) None of their music has aged especially well. Which is too bad, I guess. It really is quite catchy.