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Death, the Devil and Punching the Wall

  03/01/10 02:29, by , Categories: BFMN Exclusive, Monday Morning Musical Musings, Paul Bourgeois , Tags: alice cooper, barefootmusicnews, dan grigor, lynyrd skynyrd, milton_s lucifer, ozzy, paul bourgeois, rock music

by Paul Bourgeois

Dan Grigor, our glorious leader/guitar virtuoso/webmaster has asked me to write some bits for BareFoot Music News. And all I have to do is babble on about stuff. Babble is fine by me. Towers have been built on the stuff, and some great songs. And I make no apologies. Never apologize. Glibby glab glooby…

Among other things I’m going to discuss “Death, the Devil and Punching the Wall” because that’s what rock is all about, and rock is just the blues on steroids.

Me? When the moon comes out I’m a musician a singer/harp-player with Eric Schwandt in the band The Blue Monsters. I’m a teacher by day. And, when I teach, on the first day we all sit around a big table and tell about ourselves, because it’s important for people to know what we bring to the table. I get to go first. And you guys can go after.

I call The Blue Monsters a band because it used to be a five piece. Now it’s just Eric and me. You see, what happened was, the acoustic guitarist prettyboy ran off to Helsinki with one of the drummer’s guitars. Heiki, the bass player - a musician whose boots I am not worthy to lick - is the singer/guitarist in his own band, The Drama Queens. The drummer, David Andrews - who is really a folk singer - is now our sound technician with the Blue Monsters. Eric from Chicago, was originally a bass player but I told him I would break his fingers if he played bass. I wouldn’t have, really, but life is complicated. Isn’t everything?

Punch through for more

I tried to play piano and trumpet when I was a goofy kid. Don’t let anybody tell you learning music is easy and all musicians are drug-addled bums. I’ve investigated the drug-addled route, and it’s not viable long term. There are ways to get there creatively without ending up like Sid Barrett or worse. A rock musician is someone who burns so brightly he can’t see. A musician is a pretty hard-working individual because of that. And a flaky nerd sometimes. Sometimes a boring homebody. Sometimes a teacher or a writer or a parent. But don’t tell anybody. The drug-addled bum is much more entertaining.

You know, I don’t think that it’s appropriate for a blues/rock singer to say “Life is Good,” because, kids, take it from Uncle Paul, life is shit and it doesn’t get any better. For me life was pretty crappy between five and ten. It got a lot worse from 10 to 20. There was a slight lift in my early twenties but it quickly nosedived in my late twenties while I successfully sabotaged a good job and a relationship with a gorgeous jazz dancer. It should have been good, but my success confused the hell out of me. And my thirties was a series of failures and getting stuck in traps and running away from them. So I kinda get this, life is not worth living thing… Yet I am still here with, apparently, lots of material for killer blues songs.

This whole thing about happiness is highly overrated. Once we establish that then we can move on. I don’t understand those people, kids or rock stars, who blow their brains for rock and roll. Or maybe I do get them, only too well, and that’s why I think a young death is so horrific. But I don’t think that “blowing their brains for rock and roll” is really the deal. I think they’ve missed the point of this “life is shit” deal. Because it’s not shit all the time.

So, what does all this have to do with Rock music? Death, the devil and bouncing off the walls have always had great entertainment value. It’s like Milton’s Lucifer - Archangel of Light and leader of armies - cast into the lake of fire and standing, wings spread, shaking a defiant fist at Heaven. It is Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods and giving it to man, and for that suffering eternal torment. What theater!

And rock has saved me. From Ozzy to Alice Cooper to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Pat Benatar (before she had a kid and started singing jazz, which is beautiful), rock tells you you’ve got to fight to live, and it tells you that that fight is life itself. Like Alice Cooper in a straight jacket or Pat Benatar from Get Nervous I think that’s what happens if you give into an insane world. You just sit there all tied up staring at the white walls. So punch back with some sanity of your own. If anything, rock can save you. So get off Rob Halford’s case. And it doesn’t matter if someone named Mr. Scratch came into Gene Simmons’ office one day and asked him to sign on the blood-spattered line. It’s just entertainment.

Turn your burner on high and live. I have spent so many days in my room bouncing off the walls to rock and roll because I had to live. And, metaphorically, I’ve punched that wall, because that’s what the wall is there for.

And here I am, baby. Signed sealed and delivered. I’m yours.

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I forgot to mention this. Heikki is this great guy and a fabulous guitar player. He does beautiful things on a Fender and owns a gorgeous Gibson Semi Acoustic (correct me if I’m wrong. I often am). His band just put out a new album and Heikki is studying at Helsinki University while his drummer is studying at the same place I am teaching. A great bunch of kids and they give a fabulous show.

03/01/10 @ 03:01

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