r&r diary – The Road of Excess Does Not Always Lead to The Palace of Wisdom – 12.30.13

elvis-performing-white-jumpsuit neilyoungIf they call you King, or King of Pop, it’s kind of like they kill you off. I mean, it no longer matters what you do, it’s not about the work, or the art you create, it’s only about who you are and what you own… and well, it’s deadening, invalidating and embalming!

So yeah, it’s weird. I’ve been reading Neil Young’s book, and listening to his records, and learning some of his songs.

At the same time, the Lovely Carla and I have been working on Elvis songs for the upcoming Cake and Whiskey Club show. We have been cruising YouTube, watching Elvis performances, (it’s kind of sad and invalidating to watch the Hollywood and Las Vegas versions of “The King”) trying to select songs we can relate to.

I realized I needed to learn some new Neil Young songs as an antidote to working on Elvis songs. It’s The King and the Anti-King. One wears big white suits. The other wears flannel shirts and jeans. One has a big, over-powering voice, the other has a shaky, mournful, fluttery kind of voice. One recorded lots of songs, but all of them are covers, the other pretty much, or almost exclusively, wrote all his own songs, and his music is a record of his mood, his mind and his days.

One represents glitz and in-authenticity, and the other seems homemade, authentic, full of heart and soul. At least this is how it seems to me. I often find the King over-blown and ridiculous, and Neil Young is always compelling and inspiring. One sort of invalidates the whole pop culture/celebrity thing, and the other seems to be working in another realm, deepening the mystery of living and working and getting thru.

Both indulged in lots of mind-altering substances. Legal and illegal. One died fairly young, (43 years old), and one is still doing great work all these many years later. Turns out “It’s better to burn out than to fade away,” is a pretty good line for a song, but not a great blue-print for living! I’m repelled by the pomp, circumstance and drug-addled excess of the King, (although I do love those early r&r Sun Sessions) but I gladly, whole-heartedly embrace the soul-searching, drug-addled excesses of the Anti-King! – Jammer

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