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Only the good die young, and in
these days of computer-programmed
repititious radio programs, the greats
are sorely missed. Brian Jones, Sam
Cooke. Otis Redding, Ronnie Van
Zandt, Jimi Hendrix, Ricky Nelson,
Elvis, Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious, Jim
Morrison, Marvin Gaye, Bob Mar
ley, John Lennon, Jonn Bonham,
Keith Moon, Mama Cass and Buddy
Holly all lived hard and fast in the
rock V roll tradition and left fresh
corpses. Drugs claimed a lot of them,
drink took others, a ham sandwich
took Mama Cass, Lennon was
murdered, but since rock is a
frequent-flyer profession airplanes
claimed quite a few. The airplane is
probably the third leading cause of
death among rock superstars, after
cocaine and fast cars.
These tragedies have taken the
greatest stars from the scene leaving
rock fans with only memories and
scratchy albums. The Righteous
Brothers sang, "If there's a rock and
roll heaven the must have a mighty
fine band." That assumes that old St.
Peter slides the Pearly Gates aside
for rock hedonists and occultists
despite stringent regulations and that
the competition's band is made up
of third-rate lounge singers (like the
Righteous Brothers). The real, prob
lem is that the rockers that only
manage to be obnoxious and waste
valuable vinyl and radio time never
seem to leave. 1 still see that jerk,
Tiny Tim (Tiny Talent), who once
had a smash record with "Tiptoe
Through the Tulips" show up on a
From 'Hag' to 'Boceptas'
For some less hardy of soul and
imagination it is nothing more than
a wailing, back woods mating call
for "Skoal dippin" rednecks who
drive pick-ups with Confederate flags
draped across the rear windshield.
For some it is the very essence of
life itself, filled with life's most
colorful characters; the Hag (Merle
Haggard), the Red-Headed Stranger
(Willie Nelson) and Bocephus (Hank
That's right folks, it's country
While Top 40 music stations come
and go like bad odors in a poorly
ventilated room, country stations
continue to be the most popular
Life's greatest successes and fail
ures pressed in vinyl, sung by folks
who have lived them.
It's a form of music that most
people can identify with, the common
man at his high and low points.
Everyone has had these feelings at
one time or another, no matter if he's
a brain surgeon or a cess pool cleaner.
Country music is a truly American
form of expression. It's born out of
a way of life that is lived by "down
home types" who come alive on the
Troll's jukebox every Friday and
And what an effect it has.
Chapel Hillians who wouldn't
admit to even liking country music
can be seen belting out the
impromptu chorus to Hank Williams
Jr.'s "Family Tradition." So tell me
Hank, why do you drink . . . , why
do you roll smoke . . . , why must
you live out the songs that you wrote
. . . Sing it Susie and Freddy! Do
your parents you know snuck out the
back door of Spanky's when they
talk show occasionally. Why couldn't
he just tiptoe under a rock and die?
Then there's all those no talent
wonderkids showing up five times an
hour on my radio or on my Mpty
V (That Hendrix died a decade before
MTV, shows how little justice there
is in the world). The Madonnas, the
Boy Georges (leave it to the Boy to
take conservative heroin doses), the
Bryan Adamses, the Miami Sound
Machines and the Phil Collinses keep
on and on and on. They cloud up
the radio just think how many new
bands could use the airspace now
filled by Phil's 23 simultaneous
singles. Phil is a rock V roll pig, a
glutton. It's not enough to have a
successful band. He's got have a solo
career and produce every no account
singer to come down the pike. If only
the true greats had been that prolific.
It's not that I wish death upon these
people. I just marvel at the irony of
their unbearably long and ubiquitous
success, when the greats seem to have
had such a short time to spend on
our rock 'n' roll planet.
Hell, Mousercise went gold; these
new pretenders and poseurs don't
impress me in the least. It's sheer
demographics. Radio programmers
only got to put these people on heavy
rotation to get one percent of the
The variety is there, too. There's
a song for every emotion. From the
heavy, down-trodden tones of
George "The Possum" Jones' "If
Drinking Don't Kill Me, Her
Memory Will" to the lively "Cajun
Moon" by Ricky Skaggs.
While groups such as Alabama
appeal to the lighter side of country,
the hard-core fans stick to the old
rebel corps comprised of entertainers
your mother warned you you'd grow
up to look like if you nursed a
whiskey bottle for the better part of
George Jones, Merle Haggard,
Willie Nelson, Hank Jr., Johnny
Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kris
tofferson and David Allan Coe are
all members of this elite group.
With their worn leather, sunken,
hollow eyes, and scraggly beards,
they could probably scare more
people than the thought of Motley
Crue teaching your youngsters how
to use an electric carving knife.
These men have also logged more
prison hours than your average ax
wielding mass murderer.
Coe, who is the owner of a face
even his mother probably didn't love,
did 20 years of hard time after being
convicted of first degree murder
when he was 18 years old. Rumor
has it he also was a founding member
of the Charlotte (N.C.) Outlaws
motorcycle gang. Let's face it, the guy
Haggard, a San Quentin resident
deserve tickets on death plane
nation's teens or prepubescents to
buy that garbage, then I got to hear
it for the rest of my life. But everyone
still loves the King, warts and all.
. No, 1 don't wanna kill these people.
But when I'm rolling down the
highway listening to the radio
because my cassette player's busted
and I have to be subjected to Wham
three times before I reach my des
tination, then I imagine the possibil
ities. I imagine The Late Great Rock
and Roll Airplane of Death.
It's a benefit thing, sorta like Farm
Aid but it's a success. It's a nation
wide tour, so again they come
nowhere near the South. They travel
in a Concorde SST, so seating is
limited. It's a Mach I trip to rock
V roll hell. Everybody is on this tour;
the We Are the World folks, the
Band-Aiders, the cream of Heavy
Metal (if there is any) and they're all
picked by their fans in an MTV
phone-in vote. From a phone-booth
in New York with a wheelbarrow full
of dimes, I stack the deck.
Knowing the ratio between death
and airplanes I fill the Concorde with
those that are truly deserving to make
this trip. Madonna is booked way
in advance; it's disgusting to see the
role model she presents to young
wanna-bes. She made her entire
carreer titilating young boys on MTV
and grown men with the real thing
(the grown-ups remain unimpressed).
Put Madonna up front. Maybe we
can seat her next to Micheal Jackson.
It's been so long since he released his
last record (nervous, Mike?) that fans
at the time, was turned on to the idea
of being an entertainer by Cash, who
was playing a benefit at his old
California hang-out. Cash said he felt
it was his duty to take his message
back to the place "he learned about
life" during his incarceration for drug
abuse. Cash describes his addiction
to drugs as an outgrowth of certain
factors in his life.
"Hell, I'd do drugs for any number
of reasons," "he told late-night TV
guru David Letterman. "There's
always some reason to do them.
Maybe because your leg hurts or your
wife left you, or maybe because your
leg doesn't hurt or your wife won't
A rationale so simple anyone can
understand it. Songs so understan
dable, even the simplest people can
Country musicians also tend to
point out problems that are confined
to the "good ole US of A." No world
politics emerge in between verses that
tell of drunken debauchery in the
darkest part of town. Farm Aid was
a showcase for these performers.
They got together and emphasized
the problems here at home that
others would rather pass over on the
way to dealing with larger global
issues. Even rock V rollers John
Cougar Mellencamp and Tom Petty
joined in the celebration after cutting
"down home" albums like "Scare
crow" and "Southern Accents."
Country music brings to mind the
constants that the sands of time can't
cover up the green, green grass
of home, rampant alcoholism, and
that hide-away honky-tonk. Lifes
tyles of the Good, the Bad and the
Ugly all rolled into one.
The jewels of the industry are the
lyrics. They are truly in a class by
woulan't be deprived of anything
Phil Collins should be on that
plane, especially after his pretentious
bi-continental appearances at Live
Aid. If he misses this Concorde he
should at least be brought up on
Sherman anti-trust violations. Lionel
Ritchie may want to go to this party,
fiesta, forever, all night long, with all
the rest of the "We Are the World"
singers, except Ray Charles. Unfor
tunately, Kenny Rogers isn't even in
the category. Wasn't it ironic that
Kenny postponed his SAC appear
ance last year? What'd he do, lose
his voice? Ever notice the Band-Aid
singers went to the session in their
street clothes, but Micheal J. and the
rest of We Are the Saviours showed
up in, like their Sergeant Pepper
regalia. The English had to reteach
us to rock again after Elvis went in
the Army, maybe it's time again.
Speaking of the English, how come
the Stones aren't dead yet? Now
there's a group with staying power
they'll never leave. The very fact
that Mick and Keith have made it
into their '40s lends credence to the
rumour of their pact with the devil.
They deserve to go first class.
Speaking of seating assignments,
let's assign the whole loud, crude and
sloppy heavy metal tribe to tourist
class. Except Twisted Sister, who
should be assigned to the front to
assure maximum impact. The Viso
goths of the rock world have been
around too long it's time to clear
the air. All these bands have been
Where else could you find litera
ture like this:
Well, nobody seems to care that
I ain't guilty,
Lord, I never did the things they said
But I guess they're gonna have to
And it's lookin' like I'm gonna be
(Randy Travis "Send My Body")
I grew up a dreamin' of being
And lovin' the cowboy ways'
Pursuing the lives of my high-riding
I burned up my childhood days
(Willie Nelson "My Heroes Have
Always Been Cowboys")
But now my wheels are rollin'
IHawe aim pSimooini;
woite a letfteir!
The Tar Heel always welcomes letters, provided
they are typed double-spaced and include the
author's name, major and year in school. Some
body out there must have an opinion on something
take advantage of the editorial freedom afforded
by your student newspaper. When you're sporting
bifocals and a visibly receding hairline, you'll have
a tattered newspaper clipping to remind you of
your college career.
HeelMonday, August 18, 198633
releasing the same album for the past
20 years anyway, who needs any
more of that tripe. Well see how
much they like the devil when they
meet him on his own turf.
Now that space is becoming short
we can economize on space by
putting Seger, Mellencamp, Petty,
Bryan Adams, John Eddie ,and John
Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band
in the same seat. Bruce, of course,
won't sharing the seat. Springsteen
will be flying in a higher plane.
Put all the punkers in baggage.
Tina Turner would make the
hottest stewardess the world has ever
seen. Make Pat Benatar one, too.
Elton John should be the Captain
Fantastic. Give Duran Duran faulty
parachutes and a warning about the
plane's imminent demise.
The only regret is that Billy Joel
could not just be made to disappear,
but relegated to a Holiday Inn lounge
where he belongs.
Dylan sounds dead lately; maybe
he should get a special rate.
Anybody still playing anything
resembling disco ought to be invited.
I don't wish death on these people,
maybe something much more subtle.
A one-way trip into the Bermuda
Triangle. Set them down on Gilli
gan's Island. Maybe a Back to the
Future type of affect. Tuck them
safely, away somewhere where we
won't have to here them again. Build
the mystique. Maybe terrorists could
take them to Lebanon or something.
The main thing is, get them off my
And heaven comin' into view.
Home sweet home is Alabama,
And that's what I look forward to.
( Alabama-"If it Ain't Dixie, it Won't
Country music isn't just a form of
entertainment, it's a way of life. While
adolescent teeny-boppers are running
around at age 15 asking themselves
what happened to Duran Duran, the
"good ole boys" are still churning out
albums for the millions of fans,
outspoken rednecks or "closet types,"
who can't wait.
Scott Greig is a senior journalism
major from Charlotte who, following
a certain controversial editorial
column, has been called everything
from a liberal to an idiot. He 's sure
about one thing; he's no liberal.