Scratch and Dent Sale: Forget Brilliant Shoot for Useful

Categories: Columns

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Let's be honest: Most records are painfully self-aware pieces of trash. They're uninspired, navel-gazing, banal, cliche-ridden, ego-stroking buckets of awful. Yes, occasionally you run across a record that is utterly brilliant. But most sound mediocre-to-good-enough for a few days until our eye catches a shiny object across the room and -- whoosh! -- there goes another disc into the wasteland of our cherished CD collections.

As for the topics covered on most records, you could throw darts at a board cut into three areas: 1) Love; 2) Allegedly Political; and 3) Obtuse Journal Entry/Who The Fuck Knows. And that about covers the average distribution of pithy subjects. (By the way, I am including myself in this unfair generalization. I have most definitely contributed my fair share to the shit heap.)

Look, I'm not just being mean-spirited here. I've been on a practicality kick lately. Think of this as an unsolicited call to action. I think we, as musicians and songwriters, can do a better job. Or, if not better job, at least a more useful one.

Does the world really need another record covering the utter sameness of your (or my) interior psychological landscape? At what point does "universality" get trumped by "give me something I can actually use"? I wish someone, anyone, would write and record a CD like this:

Useful Songs For Life's Tough Times
Track list:

1) Whoops! You're Pregnant!
2) You're Fired -- Merry Christmas
3) Bad News: It's [Insert Awful Disease]
4) She Doesn't Love You. She Loves Your Sister.
5) I Just Puked In Your Bed -- Sorry 'Bout That.
6) About That Rash...
7) The Depression Test
8) McCain Won. We're Moving To Europe.
9) Honestly? Yes. You Are Ugly.
10) First Time In Prison: A Beginner's Guide

It's time to be of direct service. Grab a hammer... Go build us a useful record.

-- John Common



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