FIRST THINGS FIRST: I’d like to thank Keith Richards for keeping it interesting. A few questions, however, remain:
How does one fall out of a coconut tree? Or, rather, how does one get into a coconut tree in the first place? Or should I say onto? To the best of my knowledge, such trees do not have, you know, branches.
I gather from various reports that he may have actually fallen out of a boat — although how he could confuse a boat with a coconut tree is almost as mysterious as how he might have gotten into the coconut tree.
Obviously, a boat is a little less fun than a coconut tree. Really, for sheer news pleasure, nothing beats sitting in traffic and hearing the news guy on KFWB 980 AM saying, “Rolling Stone Keith Richards fell out of a coconut tree.” It’s kind of like reading that there’s going to be a summer movie called Snakes on a Plane. You just can’t believe it, and it’s fantastic.
AS NOTED PREVIOUSLY in this column, baseball season is upon us, which means another summer of trying to sing along to Gary Glitter’s “Rock & Roll Pt. 2,” which is a difficult task, since it has no lyrics.
Before I understood that there were two different versions of the same song, one with and one without lyrics, I sang the words to “Rock & Roll Pt. 1” at games: “Oh, oh, rock & roll/rock & roll, rock & roll.” But I was soon schooled that there are two versions, and they only play “Pt. 2” at games. Then I felt a little sad, and a little wiser.
The song’s boogie-woogie glam-rock beat isn’t exactly user friendly, either. You can’t stomp your feet or clap along to it the way you can with “We Will Rock You.”
Still, it’s a truly great stadium anthem, and I’m glad they play it at games despite the fact that Gary Glitter is a kreepy kiddie-diddler. It’s as if the song has been played so often and for so long at games, it has been entirely co-opted by the Sports Gods — completely removed from the man who birthed it and given a whole new identity through the millions who enjoy it in de-contextualized snatches and snippets at major sporting events.
(A new baseball season also means a new season of songs they play at the stadium when someone walks. Lately Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” has been popular, although I find this song a tad morose for the occasion. Tegan and Sara’s “Walking With A Ghost” was a little better. How about “Walk Like an Egyptian”? Did they do that and I missed it?)
But I was curious a couple years ago about how they dole out royalties for all the songs they play at Dodger games — specifically, “We Will Rock You” by Queen, “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones and “Rock & Roll Pt. 2.” I e-mailed a publicist for the Dodgers, and she informed me that in fact they don’t pay royalties at all.
On the one hand, this seemed a tad illegal, possibly unethical, and a bit sad for Freddie Mercury’s estate. (And, yes, I do think it’s great that the biggest stadium anthem of all time is by a group with an openly homosexual lead singer.) On the other hand, it means Gary Glitter has less cash for porn and lawyers. That’s okay.
THE RACONTEURS’ NEW ALBUM IS OUT — the much-anticipated buddy project with Jack White, Brendan Benson and members of the Greenhornes. A proper review will probably follow next week, but my initial impression is that Jack White seems to be the most dreary, draggy, bummery element on the album. The charm comes from the elements that seem distinctly un–Jack White: The awesome ’70s-style synth (Moog?) on “Intimate Secretary,” just for starters — although White’s voice does blend neatly with Benson’s here. This album also contains White’s most intense Robert Plant vocals ever, which is kind of a relief. I never understood why he felt the need to deny the influence. In Jack’s case, an out-and-out Plant rip-off is a uniquely honest gesture. Note: These are initial impressions and will almost certainly change. For now, my fave is “Intimate Secretary.” “Steady as She Goes” gets a big “whatever.” Till next week, party on, motherfucking party people.