Answering the Musical Question
Giant outsider performer Wesley Willis's connections to Houston were somewhat tenuous, but the Chicagoan did have a couple. For one, local scene fixture Jamie Sralla was friendly enough with the guy to have almost served as his road manager, and for another, Willis once immortalized Geto Boy Bushwick Bill in song. In addition to offering up standard Willis lines -- such as about how Bushwick could "really whoop a camel's ass" -- Willis was moved to say that "Your gangster rap music is the willpower to our artwork / The music will harmonize me / The jam session keeps me on the move / Your gangster rap music will take me on a joyride."
Willis passed away two years ago, but his spirit lives on at www.monzy.org/wesley. There you'll find the Wesley Willis Song Generator, where you can type in a name and a song subject, press "enter" and come up with new Willis tunes. We got to wondering -- what if Bushwick Bill hadn't been the only Houstonian to impress Willis enough to write a song? And so we fooled around and came up with the following ersatz Willis tunes.
I like you a lot in the long run.
You really whoop the horse's ass.
Roger Clemens is excellent.
Roger Clemens really whoops a camel's ass.
Marvin Zindler really whoops a donkey's ass.
You are a slime in the ice machine star.
Marvin Zindler is excellent.
You can really get in the groove.
You can really get in the groove.
You can really rock your ass off.
You can really rock it out.
You are the giant chinese man king.
You really whoop a llama's ass.
Ken Lay really whoops a donkey's ass.
You really whoop a snow leopard's ass.
You are the corporate malfeasance king.
All hail Doctor Demento, who has carried the torch of the novelty song for many years. For we are not some dour Radiohead fan who requires stone-faced "important" music. But novelty can be taken too far, and Universal Records has abused the idea with its new album, Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits. To even type that makes us vomit a little, and so we must issue a fatwa!
We did not mind the Crazy Frog ringtone -- although if someone we spent time with used it, we would have beaten them about the head, face, chest and neck. We did not even mind when Crazy Frog's version of "Axel F" hit the charts in Britain, for it prevented Coldplay from reaching No. 1 -- and that fact (and the song) are hilarious. But to release a whole CD of the gibbering amphibian scatting over such beloved classics as "Pump Up the Jam," "Who Let the Frog Out" (there's the vomit again) and "That Goddamn Six Flags Techno Song" (a.k.a. the Vengaboys' "We Like to Party")? Congrats, Universal, for making the least significant album since William Hung's third disc (a third album, Koch? That's a side fatwa!).
Universal, we can only hope you've implanted homing chips into these discs, so that when the revolution comes we can find those who purchased them and cast them from these shores. But we doubt it. So may you be forced to listen to this that you have created, over and over and over again.
It is written. -- The Ayatollah of Rock
ROCKIN' THE STARBUCKS
A couple of months ago, Wack reported on the recent deal between Alanis Morissette and Starbucks that allowed the coffee giant to sell her acoustic remake of Jagged Little Pill exclusively for several weeks. And it's somewhat widely known outside of music business circles that Bob Dylan has entered into a similar deal for an upcoming disc of early rarities (see Rotation), albeit one for an even longer period of exclusivity: a whopping 18 months. These deals outrage independent record stores -- they see the trend of non-music stores horning in on their business, especially companies as widespread as Starbucks, as insidious and alarming. Don Van Cleave, the president of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores, the trade group of which Cactus and Austin's Waterloo are both members, has called the practice "not very cool" and has said that it will make Starbucks "a moving target."
But even though Cracker Barrel has entered into a similar arrangement with Alison Krauss, so far, the chain has somehow been spared Van Cleave's wrath. It has had remarkable success with its Krauss record -- selling more than 150,000 copies at its outlets in a mere two months -- so it has announced that the next artist in the Cracker Barrel exclusive program will be Charlie Daniels, the Redneck Fiddlin' Man himself.
And here you were thinking it would be Rage Against the Machine. Anyway, Wack will leave you to come up with your own Charlie Daniels/Cracker Barrel jokes, but we're betting that they shift a bunch of those records, so we can all chuckle as they themselves laugh their way to the bank. And we're betting Lee Greenwood's already salivating at this prospect more ardently than one of Cracker Barrel's customers does when presented with a platter of steaming hash brown casserole.
But it got us thinking: What's next? Will there be Guy Clark records exclusively available at Taco Cabana? Kid Rock CDs at Hooters? Chingo Bling records at Taqueria Arandas? Screwed and chopped rap records exclusively available at codeine-dispensing Mexican border town farmacias?
Should Third Eye Blind make lemonade out of the lemons of their current career by announcing that they have entered into an exclusive deal with Big Lots, rather than just facing the depressing prospect of finding that their CDs ended up there by the thousands anyway? How about Insane Clown Posse -- shouldn't they just face the music and sign agreements with the commissary departments of all 50 state prison systems?
Just a few ideas for you nice folks at the record labels. As I said a few weeks ago, I'll take my cash in small unmarked bills in a plain brown envelope. -- John Nova Lomax
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