Strange Famous Records

R.I.P. Roc Raida

The first year I played South By Southwest, I was on an all-hip hop bill with The Beatnuts, Tha Alkaholiks and The X-Ecutioners, who were still known as the X-Men at the time. It was arranged that I would use the X-Men’s turntables. It was an honor and it made me nervous. The X-Men/X-Ecutioners are and always will be regarded as one of the greatest turntablist crews of all time. That night I ended my set with my big finishing move, which was to perform a beat-juggle (not just simply breaking doubles) while rhyming at the same time. I didn’t know it at the time (thank God), but the X-Men were watching from the side of the stage (they were probably worried about their gear). When I walked off stage, the members of the legendary group surrounded me and actually gave me props. I remember specifically that Roc Raida gave me a hug and said, “you just took hip hop to a level it’s never reached before. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. Congratulations. Respect.” I’ll never forget it. I consider it the greatest moment of my hip hop career. If I never sell another record or play another show, I’ll die happy because I got high praise from a Grandmaster.

Roc Raida – you made a difference in my life. May you rest in peace…



Sep 19

Around The Horn

Check one-two…

This time last year I was working feverishly to complete Dirtbike 1. It was the first of a three-album project. I recorded and released an album a month for three months. It all came during the greatest tidal wave of inspiration of my life. I became a zombie-stranger to my girlfriend for many weeks, but it was worth it. She cried herself to sleep every night as I went insane, but she never left. In fact, half-way through the endeavor I asked her to marry me and she said yes. I wrote a song about it.

Normally after I finish an album, I avoid listening to it for a while. Then, one day – weeks, months or years later – I’ll go back and listen to it again with fresh ears. Sometimes I’m horrified by what I hear. Sometimes I’m thrilled.

Yesterday I listened to Dirtbike 2 for the first time in a very long time and today I have a declaration to make:

“She Said Yes” is the most beautiful hip hop song ever made. Ever. Most beautiful.

Perhaps it’s a small and unpopular category. But let it be my claim to fame from now on. Buck 65 is the man who made the most beautiful hip hop song in the history of the world.

But allow me to acknowledge Emily Wells – a musical genius from LA who I met while on tour with Sage a few years ago. She played the piano and violin parts which contribute greatly to the ineffable beauty of this masterpiece.

Sidenote: “Paper Airplane”, which is also on Dirtbike 2, is also easily in the top 10 of most beautiful hip hop songs ever. That’s two from one album! If fact, I might as well go all the way and say that the top 20 list of the most beautiful hip hop songs ever made is dominated by Buck 65.

Sidenote 2: While listening to Dirtbike 2 yesterday it dawned on me that two of the things that interest me most is trying to make the most beautiful hip hop songs possible and the ugliest hip hop songs possible. “LHOOQ”, for example, is an extremely ugly hip hop song. How exciting!

Finally, on a completely unrelated note, I just want to say that I’ve always found teenagers to be very annoying so I was so happy when Kanye West took that shit all over that blonde teenager at the “art”-trophy thing on TV recently. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Just joking. That was awesome.

Talk soon,

Buck 65 – the most beautiful rapper of all-time, friend of man and beast alike, including teenagers.

Sep 18

Ever been to Switzerland?

In 2005 I toured Europe with a group called Grand Buffet. Although they are my favourite group in the world to tour with, this was the most trying and difficult tour of my career. We were robbed a couple times, there was a hospital trip, had run-ins with the law, you name it. By the time we reached Switzerland for our final show, our morale was totally shot. Upon entering Swiss territory, the country looked like a ghost town. A very clean, sterile and affluent ghost town.

As we drove through the city of Zurich we noticed a ferris wheel and some other rides off in the distance. It was a carnival or town fair of some sort. The place was dead empty, but we had some time to kill before the show so we decided to storm the castle. “Storming the castle” is a game we came up with to keep ourselves entertained during these long trips through no-man’s-land Europe. What that game entailed was simply running around like a bunch of idiots while yelling at the top of our lungs to cause confusion or alarm for the people on the premises.

We pulled up to the carnival, hopped out of the van, “stormed the castle,” and returned back to our van completely out of breath. We looked at each one another like…”what the fuck did we just see?” It was clearly the best little carnival in the world. So we went back in disguised as civilized Americans. Thankfully they allowed us back in.

The rides were wonderfully dangerous. They were the kind of rides that would never be allowed at an American carnival. They were lawsuit- worthy. Even the games came with a risk of injury. Games like… shoot the can with an actual rifle. You know…I don’t know. It was a while ago and I can’t remember the specifics, but I remember every booth being manned by a beautiful woman. This is different than the toothless, ex-convict carnies we are used to in the States.

When we finished with the Shoot-Your-Eye-Out and Punch-The-Clown-in-the-Face games, we had to leave and find our way to our show. Upon entering the club, we saw that there was a huge print-out of my face that reached from the stage to the ceiling. It was glorious and totally obnoxious. The promoter told me that his idea was to have me run through it when it was time for me to start my set. Just… amazing. I looked at him like, “Yeah man… totally.”

What happened instead is that I stripped down to my underwear during Grand Buffet’s set and I jumped through my print-out face during Grand Buffet’s performance. Music wasn’t even playing when I decided to do it. In fact, Lord Grunge of GB was fighting with a crowd member when I decided to make my grand entrance. Since I was in disguise (with a baseball cap and wig,) no one recognized me. As far as the audience was concerned I was just some random, pseudo-naked, long-haired, half-naked guy contributing to an oddball performance from a beligerant rap group. It wasn’t wild though. The crowd went dead silent. I stumbled to the CD player, hit the play button and yelled, “LET’S GO!”

I helped Grand Buffet end their set by doing high leg kicks for 2 two minutes straight. When the song finished, Lord Grunge grabbed the CD player and slammed it into the ground. I have no idea how my own set went. I have no recollection of it at all. All I remember is walking on my hands when the show was finished, racing a woman down the dance floor. I won. This was the last show of my last European Tour, and Switzerland is fucking weird.

Sep 01

Runners Left In Scoring Position


On Dirtbike (the three hour album available for free download on my website) there’s a quote from Kurt Cobain. He says, “Everyone seems to be striving for utopia in the underground scene but there are so many different factions. I mean, if you can’t get a fucking underground movement to band together and to stop bickering about unnecessary little things that they don’t agree on, then how the fuck do you expect to have an effect on a mass level?” Think about that.

Every successful and/or meaningful cultural movement I can think of was the result of people coming together, uniting their efforts and making noise that couldn’t be ignored. Look at every important movement in art history. Look at the Surrealists. The Dadaists. The Situationists. Look at punk. Look at post-punk. There’s Surrealist art and punk music, but it’s also hugely important that there were Surrealist movements, punk movements. Back in 20’s Salvador Dalí got together with Luis Buñuel and the poet, Lorca, started a movement in Paris and fucked shit up forever! And with punk, along side the group of musicians that came together, you had figures like Andy Warhol, Legs McNeil, Don Letts and countless others who weren’t musicians themselves, but got involved and worked to create a larger cultural force that was impossible to ignore – too much noise was being made, too many people were involved. Armies were built!

I really believe that back in the mid-nineties all the pieces were in place for significant hip hop history to be made. Scratch that – music history. The beginnings of a movement were in place. Seemingly at the same moment, out of nowhere you saw the emergence of the Live Poets, Dose, Atmosphere, Company Flow, the Sebutones, Sage, and a bunch of other guys who were to hip hop what post-punk (Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Devo, Wire, etc.) was to punk. Here were a bunch of hip hop heads who were doing things radically differently. It was exciting to watch from up close. And with the yearly pilgrimages to Scribble Jam and development of Anticon and the 1200 Hobos and Rhymesayers and whatnot, it began to feel like the makings of a new wave were afoot.

But you know what? As far as I’m concerned, we fucking blew it. I’m still not exactly sure where we went wrong. But can you imagine what might have happened if all the talent and resources had’ve been properly pooled? If we had’ve done more… If we could have come together under one banner… If we could have supported each other more… If we had’ve had more foot soldiers like Kevin Beacham – guys who weren’t in it for personal glory, but for the love and advancement of the culture that was germinating. Kevin was our Don Letts! We needed more like him. We needed our own Legs McNeil and Andy Warhol and Malcolm McLaren. What happened? Maybe being perceived as different made us insecure. Maybe we were afraid to really assert ourselves.

Sure, Slug’s a successful guy and has worked real hard. Sage too – no question. The indy labels are great contributions: SFR, Rhymesayers, Anticon, Def Jex, Mush, Lex, etc. I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m pissing on any of the success that we have seen. But I always wanted more. Lots more. And I’m not talking about money and fame. Money has been made. Minor fame has been attained.

Aug 30

it is what it is.

i woke up with the sun staring me down and my arm around a beautiful woman this morning. my hand was still sleeping underneath bicep when i came to.

my head was running at top speed and my responsibilities were wearing straight jackets. but, i managed to slip out of the cocoon we had built around ourselves over the night and quietly got my belongings in order with out waking her.

it’s an hour later and I’m getting ready to play a show in Fargo, North Dakota. “what the hell is fargo north dakota?” you ask. Well, it’s basically miami with out all the miami and all the corn fields and flag waving you could ask for. go U.S.A.!

I’m bringing my friends FOOD HEAD ONE and DOWNSTAIRS DAVE along to keep me from losing my sanity in the fair city of fargo. FOOD will most likely back me up on stage and scream things like “this is cecil fucking otter mother fucker!… make some noise!” which is a far cry from the last time he joined me on stage and asked a room full of people if they’ve ever got drunk and fucked in a corn field… one person out of 200 had… he was also in his late thirties, drunk as hell and wearing a fair amount of nascar attire. FOOD promised me that he would be on his best behavior tonight…i trust him.

I’m sitting here at muddy waters(the coffee shop i work at)making a set for the show tonight. i basically rearrange an itunes playlist until i feel it’s got the horse power that the people of fargo deserve to hear me rev up for a half hour…i think i got it.

my horoscope told me i was fat and the third cup of coffee is burning a hole in my stomach… it’s time to hit the road.

so, get ready fargo! this fat man is gonna rev his emotional engine for you at eleven o’clock! viva small town america!

-cecil otter

Aug 30

PFA returns home. Jared Paul drops J.R.R. science

PFA have just returned home from their first national tour in support of the Prayers for Atheists EP release.  24 shows in the bag, the band has returned back home to Rhode Island more excited and inspired than when they left. For those who don’t know anything about touring, that is miraculous. I’d like to congratulate Jared Paul, Alan Hague, Cousin Tom, the new drummer Marco, and Dan Sawyer (their engineer, photographer, van man and guardian angel) on their successful excursion.

Livin’ the li(f)e! Looks fun, don’t it? You may see the freedom of the road and non-stop rock and roll. All I can see is work, sweat, sleepless nights and relentless desert heat. But don’t mind me, I am a jaded old man who is in no rush to get behind the wheel of a 15 passenger van for the rest of his life. However, this is the life that I’ve carved out for myself, and Jared Paul is the one of the few people who has stayed by my side and experienced it all with me. Thus begins the true point of this blog…

There are three things that Jared has pushed on me through the years:

1) Bob Dylan (thank you for that.)

2) Coffee (no thank you for that you sumbich.)

3)  The Lord of the Rings trilogy (the books…NOT the movies. I repeat…not the movies.)

Let’s focus on #3. Jared Paul’s family passes down the J.R.R. Tolkien books from generation to generation like scripture. It’s serious business. Soon before the first Lord of the Rings movie hit theaters, Jared gave me all the books in hopes that I would read them before seeing the flicks. He masked the covers with black tape so that my imagination wouldn’t be influenced by the drawings.  He apparently does this with all his books. What’s weird is that he decorates the cover of his writing notebook with pictures of Katie Holmes from the Dawson’s Creek era.

I started reading the first book of the 3-book series while I was touring Europe. I figured that would enhance my Shire experience.  Unfortunately, I didn’t finish reading it before “The Fellowship of the Ring” hit the big screen. Not only am I a slow reader, but Tolkien has a habit of over-explaining my least favorite subject…geography.
When I returned home, Jared reluctantly joined our group of friends and attended the movie with us. I had to convince him to stay in his seat and not leave the theater when this guy popped up as one of the characters.

This was the look Jared was giving me:

Jared Paul is not pleased


Jared ultimately left the theater before the movie ended. He isn’t the only person who was offended by the movie’s bastardization of the original story, but he IS the only one I know whose balls I can bust when it comes to Lord of the Rings. Since I’m the kind of petty person who likes to find weak spots in other people and continually hit them for my own amusement, I thought I struck gold when I found this video lampooning the Lord of the Rings movies. I sent Jared an email saying, “You need to see this!” Here it is:

Jared’s email response made me laugh and I figured I would share it with the world. It reminded me of a side of Jared that I’ve always loved and more people need to know about. I apologize to Jared if he didn’t want this response to be made public, but I will keep it up until I get a cease and desist. Big ups to the hardcore Tolkien fans who continue to carry to torch. I like to imagine this email being written in a fury:

“It was very enjoyable. and i laughed. but it’s total fuckery; the only reason the eagle (or frodo and sam) were able to make it to mount doom at all was because the collected armies of Middle Earth fronted a full assault on the Towers of the Teeth after Aragorn declared himself to Sauron in the Palantir- leading Sauron to believe that Aragorn had the ring and was attempting to establish his Kingship by successfully attacking Mordor.  Sauron knew that there was no way that even Aragorn could have learned how to use the One in such a short time (nor would he even have the power to wield it) but in regards to the vanity and arrogance of Man it made sense, so unlooked for, he took the bait and emptied Mordor’s forces- attacking the united armies from the west gate as well as the north… in addition to sending all remaining forces to redouble the assault at Lorian, Escargoth/the Lonely Mountain, and Isengard (and else where).  The whole place was emptied and Sauron’s full attention was outside Mordor- but only up to that very moment.  And there was no way to know how things would play out till exactly that time.  Especially considering that Minas Morgus was still fully operational up to that point and the Nazgul were also in constant patrol over the mountains.  Had the eagle been sent in earlier, it would’ve unquestionably been killed and the ring would’ve gone directly into Sauron’s control and we’d all be dead.  Gandalf was a G.  He was literally the only person in all of Middle Earth who could’ve pulled everything off; which is arguably the exact reason the Istari were sent from across the water over a thousand years before.  (Not too MENTION that it was only under Gandalf’s orchestration that the One was found again and kept safe in the first place, or that without him Smaug (the Dragon from the Hobbit) would still have been alive and on Mordor’s side for the Great War).
The dudes from the clip look like Who Farted to anyone who loves the story (regardless of whether or not we look like D&D nerds to them), but that’s what happens when hack ass comedians think they know something about one of the greatest stories ever told just by watching some fucking shitbag Peter Jackson sacrilege.  If I could go back in time, I’d slit Christopher Tolkienne’s throat before he could have ever signed over the rights.  Then I’d probably cut Jackson too, just for safe keeping.  Kill A Pimp For Justice.”
Ok. That’s all. I’m still giggling and I’m not sure these giggles will be shared.
Metaphors be with you,

Aug 30


I think my single favorite moment from the history of hip hop is when Afrika Bambaataa rocked “Trans-Europe Express” by Kraftwerk. The idea of playing a weird German experimental electronic record for hip hop kids in the Bronx still blows my mind. KRAFTWERK, for Christ’s sake! Of course, that song became the foundation for the seminal “Planet Rock”, which still gets my heart pumping every time I hear it. What thrills me so much about this event is that it was so un-hip hop. Remember that in those days the hip hop sound was still firmly rooted in funk and disco.

Having said that, it also came as a big thrill for me years later when I started discovering the sources of many of the classic breaks. To learn that hip hop’s greatest minds were messing with records by The Steve Miller Band or Billy Squire or Aerosmith or Tom Jones (to name just a few) was very surprising to me.

I’ll never forget when I heard Run D.M.C.’s album King of Rock for the first time. Songs like “Jam Master Jammin'” and the title track sounded more like the Black Sabbath records my cousin listened to than all the electro stuff that dominated hip hop at that time. Compared to the rest of the records I knew up to that point, again, it seemed so un-hip hop.

Bold steps like these are what separated people like Bam and the kings from Queens. They stood out. They were radicals. There was something kinda punk about it. It was exciting to see someone come along and smash all expectations and rip a page or two out of the rule book.

Having gotten such a thrill from moments like those, I always looked forward to the next time one would come along. It happened when I heard “M.P.E.” by Public Enemy. I FREAKED when I heard that song! It was the least funky thing I’d ever heard – impossible to dance to! Totally punishing. Brutal. I felt it again when I heard records like Paul’s Boutique and 3 Feet High and Rising with the crazy things that were being sampled: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Elvis Costello, The Ramones, Johnny Cash!

I think I started making deliberately un-hip hop creative decisions of my own around 1995. I had already stopped “dressing hip hop” out of embarrassment. Then, when I was getting ideas together for Psoriasis, the first Sebutones’ record, I decided I wanted to make the slowest hip hop beats ever made. Hip hop music had always been dance music in one way or another. It was music for the b-boys, roller rinks and clubs. I thought it would be interesting and something new (though partly inspired by anomalies like “M.P.E.”) to make music that was utterly un-dance-able. I remember Sixtoo and I giggling like school girls in the studio because the beat to the track “Review” was 65 beats per minute.

Shortly after that, I made the album Language Arts. To me, today, that record sounds like if Throbbing Gristle made a hip hop record. The centerpiece of Language Arts is a track called “Seventeen”. In the lyrics of that song I basically come out swinging, saying, “this is who I am, I’m here to fuck shit up and if you don’t like it, I don’t give a flying shit.” It was like a declaration of intent to tear down any wall I could find and throw the rule book in the fire. I had no reason to believe that anyone was listening to any of my threats, but I felt like I had to say it or I would die.

I think a big part of my motivation at that time came from taking a long, hard look in the mirror. I asked myself, “who am I kidding?” I’m white. I grew up in a small, rural town. I’m Canadian, for crying out loud. I don’t drink or do drugs. Before I even open my mouth, I’m already totally un-hip hop. I was something else altogether and I figured my only choice was to accept that and run with it. I figured it for a gamble, but if I did something radically different – if I really stood out from the pack – maybe I’d catch a little recognition.

Now that’s not to say that I started doing things strictly for the sake of being weird, exactly. Before this turning point, I was already a fan of Roxy Music, for example, but I kept this interest and many others separate from my hip hop life. But by the time I started working on Vertex, I had begun to adopt my full-on everything-on-limits attitude and decided to include a cover of “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” when a year or two before, I wouldn’t have dared. I could have continued to enjoy Roxy Music on my own free time and not try to inflict my weird tastes on anyone else, but the thought of doing things that were wildly un-hip hop had become too exciting for me to resist. I liked the idea of being the guy who would do the things that no one else would dare.

On Vertex I also began to explore some themes that were pretty un-hip hop in my estimation at the time: sympathy, insecurity, sadness, vulnerability… Un-hip hop.

“…each master to his own technique.”

I started working on music with my friend Charles right before Man Overboard. The first song we worked on together was “Pack Animal”, I think (it might have been “Pen Thief”). Shortly after we came together, he made a mixtape for me. I still have it. Off the top of my head, three songs stand out that blew my mind and re-instilled a sense of excitement about music right when my excitement about hip hop was beginning to wane:

– “Two Rivers” by the Meat Puppets
– “Kandy Korn” by Captain Beefheart
– “New Dawn Fades” by Joy Division

Each of these songs opened up exciting new worlds for me. But most importantly, that Joy Division song sparked an interest in – nay, obsession with – the world of post punk. Not only did I start buying up records by Wire and Gang Of Four and Devo, I started reading everything I could find about the movement. Learning about the radical philosophies that went into the making of this music – making rock and roll devoid of blues influence, for example – inspired me further and steeled my resolve.

Man Overboard included songs like “Lil’ Taste Of Poland” and “Sunday Driver”, both of which were driven by a spirit of hip hop perversion.

My next album was called Square partly in reference to it being part four of the Language Arts series, but also because the word “square” means the opposite of “hip” (hop).

“463” from Talkin’ Honky Blues, by the way, was conceived as a tribute to those guitar heavy Run D.M.C. songs that excited me so much when I was a kid.

“We Three Kings” by The Sebutones on the 50/50 Where It Counts album is the most dance-impossible song ever. “Le 65isme” on Secret House Against The World was made with funk poison (you can hear the Beefheart influence on that one). And the re-recording of “The Centaur” on This Right Here Is Buck 65 is one of a very small handful of hip hop songs with no beat whatsoever. Hip hop was built on a foundation of drum breaks. At the time, I thought making a song with no drums at all was the most un-hip hop thing I could do. And there’s been a bit of fuss over the years about my affinity for the banjo.

In recent years I’ve written songs about long haul trucking, becoming an uncle, Fatty Arbuckle, Karl Wallenda, proposing marriage, the band Kiss, Vivienne Westwood’s Active Resistance manifesto… I wrote a whole album inspired by Situationism… Hell, if you want to insult someone, you tell ’em to “go get your shinebox!” (I’ve had this insult thrown at me, actually). I’ve written a song about taking pride in shining shoes!! I think it’s safe to say that many people have ideas of what hip hop is “about” and I don’t think truckers and silent film stars usually come to mind.

It’s important to stress that I don’t consider any of these ideas as anti-hip hop. I love hip hop music and culture. I don’t think applying these concepts to what I’m doing would even be possible if it weren’t for a deep respect for hip hop history. “463” would never have happened if I wasn’t losing my mind to “Jam Master Jammin'” back in ’85. I would never have had the inspiration in the first place if it wasn’t for my worship of Bambaataa. Making a song without drums would never have occurred to me as an interesting idea if I wasn’t aware of the pioneering work of Kool Herc or Flash. And to this day, it’s vitally important to me to build songs on a foundation of breaks (99.9% of the time), to rock turntables and to pay tribute to the founding fathers in a variety of ways. I see the unique contributions of Bam, Run D.M.C., the Beastie Boys, De La Soul and Public Enemy as invaluable gifts to the hip hop legacy. The thought I’ve put into my work is fueled by my desire to make a contribution of my own. To be honest, I think I’ve been mostly misunderstood in my efforts, but that’s another discussion.

Through the years I’ve been asked countless times what I call my music and I’ve never known what to say. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I think there’s one clear answer: it’s un-hip hop.


Aug 29

Interview/Tribute I did with Bruce Springsteen

Little interview/piece I did for their blog. If you don’t know, Twist & Shout is a dope record store in Denver. Check em out if you’re in the mountains.

“You know, this Michael Jackson thing got us to thinking. Why don’t we ever pay tribute to our heroes when they are alive? I mean, why do these great people have to die before we wax poetic about them? Well, here’s your chance. Pick an living artist that you love and answer the following questions about them.” -Twist And Shout


Bruce Springsteen. Say word. I’m takin it there.

How did you get turned on to this artist?

I was turned on to Bruce Springsteen twice in life. First when I was about 10, by my Uncle Jack. That’s not a metaphor for Jack Daniels. I really have an uncle named Jack. And anyhow I didn’t meet Jack Daniels til I was 12.

The second time I found the Boss was almost 20 years later, on tour with Buck 65. He hipped me to the “Nebraska” album, which I’d never really heard, and I fell instantly in love with it. These days it’s never far from my side, and I might even rank it among the greatest albums ever made.

What was the first record you got by this artist?

Uncle Jack gave me a dubbed copy of a concert recording that I’ve never been able to track down since. I used to fast forward through almost all of it, occasionally stopping to listen to the audience lose their minds when “Born in the U.S.A.” happened. Come to think of it this may have been the first real recording of a concert I ever had. I used to lay in bed with headphones and imagine being onstage. All the girls I had crushes on from school were in the crowd. Aye.

Anyhow, I would fast forward through almost all of this tape except for “Born in the U.S.A.” and “The River,” and the latter was the song I really wanted to hear. I used to just rewind that song and play it over and over until I fell asleep. Even at 10 it crushed me. Without having any real adult experiences, I understood what that song was about on some level.

Have you seen the artist live? What was the best show?

I’ve never seen Springsteen live, but I do highly recommend the DVD of his VH1 Storytellers performance. My favorite Springsteen is acoustic, and the Storytellers performance offers some really great insight into Springsteen’s songwriting process. I can say that I’ve learned things from that DVD that I’ve applied directly to the music I’m making now, and that it’s made me a better songwriter for sure.

For real. Check this DVD out.

Have you ever met this artist? What would you tell them if you
were to have dinner with them?

Nah. I met Huey Lewis recently though. Unrelated.

I dunno man. I feel like me and Bruce wouldn’t need to say anything. We’d just sit at the end of the bar and watch the 40 year old woman sway to the jukebox. Every once in awhile we’d look up from our beers at each other and go “Yep.”

What makes this artist different than others?

For me, Springsteen epitomizes a certain kind of American experience better than anyone else. If you’re interested in music about rural blue collar life then I don’t think anyone is fucking with him. At best, he understands and communicates the poetry of that world without ever mucking it up or making it overwrought.

There’s obvious overlap with people like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, but I feel like those two are taking the mundane to somewhere else a lot of the time. Many of the go-to Johnny Cash songs are taking that same experience and turning it into something mythic or archetypal, and a lot of the go-to Dylan songs are dazzling me with language and living very much in the mind, if that makes sense.

Not to take anything away from Cash and Dylan, but I think Springsteen has a very zen way of just leaving it all be, by comparison. I’m generalizing a lot here, but I think that’s the distinction, for me.

“Seen a man standin’ over a dead dog
lyin’ by the highway in a ditch
He’s lookin’ down kinda puzzled
pokin’ that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open
he’s standin’ out on highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough
that dog’d get up and run”
-Bruce Springsteen, “Reason to Believe”

Why do you think this artist strikes a chord with you? This is a
question about you, not the artist.

Well, as I’ve said, I think Springsteen is the poet of a certain blue collar generation, and my parents and their friends fit squarely into that. Uncle Jack still swears by The Boss and The Stones, and still works in the same warehouse he’s been working in for 20 years with my father.

So, Springsteen is forever tied to nostalgia and sentimental feelings about the place I come from, in that way. It’s music that reminds me of the adults I grew up around, that coincidentally might as well be about the adults I grew up around.

Also, what makes the songs last for me is the lack of romance or re-imagining. Nothing is being smoothed over in these songs. Springsteen gets the simple beauty of that life but he also gets the brutal, soul-emptying sadness. That sadness is something so fundamental I understood it when I was 10 years old, and it’s truer now than it ever was.

“Those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse?”
-Bruce Springsteen, “The River”

Tell em Boss.

Check out:

Bruce Springsteen – “Atlantic City”

Bruce Springsteen – “The River”

Aug 27

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From the mind of B. Dolan, The MAKE RACISTS AFRAID AGAIN Hat is meant to express solidarity with those opposing racism, homophobia, and fascism worldwide.  Anywhere they rear their head, we will combat them.  It's that simple.

BRAND NEW STYLE FOR 2016, available in Men's & Women's fits! The One Party System T-Shirt is inspired by lyrics from the Sage Francis classic "Slow Down Gandhi".

Because you demanded it: brand new FLEXFIT HATS! Click here to see them all.

Copyright © Strange Famous Records (SFR). Dissing You Since 1996

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