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Vagina Music Roundup

A scintillating survey

WHERE'D THE O GO?

The late Waylon Jennings's hell-raising son Shooter plays in The Woodlands this week, and we thought we'd continue our wang-dang-sweet-poontang theme by asking him about the title of his CD Put the O Back in Country, what it was like watching his hot girlfriend get blown to bits on The Sopranos and other weighty topics.

Wack:What in the hell does the title of your album mean?

Shooter Jennings: It's a tongue-in-cheek joke, really. If you take the o out of country, it's spelled cunt. It's just kind of poking fun at the industry at the moment, because it's in kind of a cunty place. But the landscape of country is really changing. Artists like Gretchen Wilson and Dierks Bentley are bringing a really good, young vibe to it.

Wack:Who's the looser cannon, you or Waylon Sr.?

Shooter:I'm not no outlaw. He's the real deal. He partied harder than anybody. I don't think Elvis beat him.

Wack:Four pot busts in two years ain't nothin' to sneeze at. Any new arrests?

Shooter:I only got charged with one of 'em. We have to do a benefit concert to get out of it. But that's how "Busted in Baylor County" came about. It's in that new Dukes movie.

Wack:That song's like a stoner version of "Devil Went Down to Georgia."

Shooter:Yeah, I guess. Word-for-word true -- except for the part about them dropping the charges for autographs.

Wack:Speaking of celebrity justice, did watching your girlfriend [actress Drea de Matteo] get her head blown off in The Sopranos give you any nightmares?

Shooter:Oh, man! I knew it was gonna happen, of course. But I was still cryin.' I mean, I don't like to see her gettin' killed. -- John La Briola

ROCKIN' THE BOAT

Shut the fuck up. All of you, shut the fuck up. [Daryl] Hall and I will not stand idly by as you California vagina sailors stab the American airwaves in the balls with your shit [pause] music. -- John Oates, protesting the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes," on the show Yacht Rock

As I opened the site -- which I have bookmarked -- and saw that there was a new episode of Yacht Rock up, I gasped. You know that jolt of elation that courses through you when your boy smacks a homer in the bottom of the ninth or when your favorite band plays the first few notes of your favorite song for the encore? That's what happened to me -- just now -- when I discovered Yacht Rock #3.

What is Yacht Rock? Well, a couple of things. Yacht Rock is a short, mockumentary-style show created by J.D. Ryznar, Hunter Stair and Lane Farnham. You can view it at www.channel101.com, which is the Web outlet for a short film series put on by two L.A.-based comedian-writers, Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab.

"Yacht rock" is also the term for the particular genre of music that is so lovingly and mockingly embraced by the show. As Hollywood Steve, the show's "host," puts it in the first episode, "From 1976 to 1984, the radio airwaves were dominated by really smooth music, also known as 'yacht rock.' These yacht rockers docked a remarkable fleet of No. 1 hits. And every song has a story behind it." Each episode tells a new tale, and the characters are a cast of really smooth guys: "music-industry mogul" Koko Goldstein; Michael McDonald, keyboardist and vocalist for the Doobie Brothers; Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina; Hall & Oates; Steely Dan; Jeff "Skunk" Baxter; Christopher Cross; Chicago's Peter Cetera; and, in this most recent episode, Steve Perry, formerly of Journey.

Basically yacht rock consists of the songs playing on the car stereo when your parents drove you to kindergarten, songs that are burned in your memory, even though you can't remember where you might have heard them. We're talking tunes like Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen" or the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes" or England Dan & John Ford Coley's "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" or Dan Hill's "Sometimes When We Touch," which is a really sad song about a guy trying to be honest about his feelings. Really, what self-respecting music hipster couldn't relate to these lines: "Romance and all its strategy / Leaves me battling with my pride / But through the insecurity / Some tenderness survives"?

If you're in your twenties, these were -- and probably still are -- your parents' songs. I hereby give you permission to borrow them from Mom and Dad, just as you would an old lamp sitting unused in the attic.

You see, there's something uniquely enjoyable about yacht rock that I think a lot of you are missing out on. As my new favorite show so hilariously plays up, the genre consists of quintessentially bad music, made by musicians who took themselves and their sentimentality way too seriously. But that describes pretty much all of pop music. What makes yacht rock special is that these musicians took themselves that seriously, sold millions of records and, in the end, made some of the most innocuous music ever. Yacht rock was never brash or reckless. It had no dark underbelly (although one of Yacht Rock's funniest tacks is to give it one by, for example, making Hall & Oates a couple of shit-talking bullies). It existed in a vacuum of sorts, right between the end of disco and the beginning of synth pop, college rock and glam metal. It was neither stylish nor edgy. It stood for one thing and one thing only: itself. The goal of the musicians who made yacht rock was to engineer the most virtuosically smooth pop song possible. It was a noble, albeit paradoxical and extremely funny goal.

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