Anyway, around midnight I’m having a joke debate with our friend Matt. He’s insisting pop music is a vastly underrated form of art seeing as it provides millions of people with not only satisfaction but the deceptive implication via its simplicity that anyone can do it. In other words, Matt is jabbing my balls with a verbal hot poker. We routinely spared with these kind of friendly debates, and on this occasion Matt is the devil’s advocate for pop. (Such being the case I’m forced to consider there may be a reality out there where I advocated for pop’s value in which instance none of this ever happened. But I digress.)
In order to illustrate how vapid and simple pop music is I grab Clint’s guitar. Why he has a guitar no has ever been able to determine given the fact he doesn’t know how to play it. Although I vaguely remember him citing some article he read that stated a man need only have a guitar in or on hand to increase his chances of having sex with a woman. Excuse me, with a girl. Meanwhile, Matt insists I’m merely proving his point for him.
As I strap on the guitar I say, “No, because here’s the thing: if everybody can do it then it has no great value. It’s like breathing or childbirth -- it’s only special to those who can’t do it.”
And I begin to play. Now, I know three chords: G, C, and D. I used to know A until I took a hit off a bong packed with Dr. Kieforkian. I swear to god that shit killed a part of my brain. So anyhow, I strum a little. Nothing fancy. I pick a pattern, roughly playing each chord four times for the first half of the song. For the second half I just alternate between G and C. And that’s all a person needs. Pay attention to Blowin’ in the Wind, Doo Wah Ditty, or Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They’re all three chord songs featuring C, D, and G. With the instrumental section down I immediately strike before Matt can hurl a challenge. I sing:
“Baby, there are so many ways to say I don’t how to pay for all the love you give me always. But baby understand I’ll do everything I can to show you all the ways I’ll always love you.
“You’re my one and only reason to be. Without you I‘m just empty. Fading slowly” -- strum, strum -- “into nothing.”
A funny thing happens as I’m singing. Girls begin to gather. Typically Matt would properly use this opportunity to say something like, “Glad you could dazzle us with your talent,” then throw the guitar out the window. However, we shared a telepathic conversation while I feigned a solo.
Me: You see what’s happening?
Matt: Yes, and the unfortunate truth is we’re obligated to be men in this situation.
Me: Rather than ridicule these girls we should have sex them.
Matt: At least try to.
Me: Fuck that. No negative thoughts. We are getting laid.
Matt: Then play our cocks in General Guitar.
Me: Roger that.
In a way, I may have lost the debate -- poppy music did appear to have some value -- however, I like to think I won the day.
Now, Shakespeare wrote, “Some men are born great, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” Matt is the kind of guy willing to do the thrusting. The next time he and I got together we discussed the guitar vaginal causeway. It wasn’t so much that neither of us knew such things could happen, it was more that such things never happened to us. Matt wanted to know how far we could take it.
“I’m not too sure about this,” I said.
“Don’t be afraid of this pop cultural terror you’ve created. We could be wrecking chicks morning, noon, and night,” Matt said.
“That reminds me, I still think a swingers’ gym where you workout by fucking would catch on.”
“Noted. I’ll file it away with all the other shit that’s never going to happen.” Matt folded his arms across his chest, “I’m saying this is a for real opportunity.”
I said, “To do what? Bang dimwits for the rest of the year?”
I conceded, “There’s always the probability if we fuck enough girls with guitarophilia we’re bound to eventually stumble into ones who are actually interesting people.”
Matt said, “I’m sure there’s a statistic somewhere to back that up.”
“Of course. It’s on the nerdaverse somewhere.”
And with that, Heart Earned Royalty was born. We told people the name is meant to imply that having a heart one isn’t afraid to show can earn a guy a real princess. The truth is Matt and I thought it would be hilarious to hear people yelling, “I love H.E.R.!” in reference to two guys. Somewhere along the line we had the wherewithal to tack that onto the name’s origin but in a more classy sounding way like: “I wanted people to echo what I feel,” or some bullshit like that.
However, the realities of a music profession soon collided with our poon scam like a brick through stained glass. Where there used to be a wonderful mural depicting Matt and I surrounded by beautiful naked women, our guitars like musical cocks raised in triumph, soon turned to a pile of jagged glass. And we had to walk through that foot shredding spread.
Open mics tend to be populated by two kinds of people. On the one hand there are those pretentious assholes who think the world is looking for them to guide it to wonder and enlightenment. It’s just some cruel twist of fate that has them temporarily confined to open mics instead of sing-preaching to sold out venues all around the world. The other kind are actually talented individuals who are either doing everything they can to accrue an audience, or tragically have no idea how to get exposure. It’s the second kind, the talented people who screwed our plans.
Nothing made our bullshit seem more fecal than having to follow two guys who played guitar as if the things are a part of their nervous system. We followed this one act… motherfucker. This act gave me PTSD. I can’t even think about it without going into a shivering shame spiral; constant thoughts of not deserving a fucking thing running through my head; knowing I witnessed something I can never be no matter how many hours I spend practicing. Why some people aren’t famous is beyond me.
Fortunately, like most creative endeavors the music industry isn’t about how talented a person is it’s about who a person knows. Even as the passion for our scam diminished, Matt and I still managed to pull off success. Long story shortened, he banged this girl named Tiffany Atwood. If her name sounds familiar that’s because her uncle is Simon Atwood, the current CEO of a certain corporation whom, for legal reasons shall remain anonymous. All I can say is mouse. Matt gave Tiffany a rough recording of some of our songs. His way of saying thanks for sucking my high school insecurities out of my dick. She plays the songs for her uncle at Thanksgiving, bingo bango bongo, the mouse calls.
Seems the company had plans to launch a lite, (lite, lite, lite) rock band comprised of young men. While Matt and I didn’t fit their vision for the actual band members our music certainly did. Matt said yes without a second thought. I, however, didn’t want anything to do with the company. Fortunately, my reluctance got viewed as a negotiation tactic. Let’s just say it’s true everyone has their price, and there’s no shame in that.
The mouse people took control of H.E.R. And ku-fucking-ching! If you were annoyed by any of the following songs, Matt and I are to blame:
Let Me in on Your Moment
Maximum Occupancy (Only One in my Heart)
Eye. See. You.
Pick Up the Check
Old Mac D. Taught Me (E I E I O U my heart)
Nice and Easy
Steady on Surely
That last one made it to number two on the pop charts in Norway. What have you ever done with your life that was more fucking important? But I digress.
Yes, we made a lot of money. However, no one wants to fuck the songwriter. It’s the irony of pop music really. The audience feels connected to the person performing the song not the person who created the song. But that didn’t bother me after checks started arriving every month. Each one seemed to say, “Shut it asshole. How many people get paid for bullshit?” Still, my mixed feelings continued unabated.
H.E.R. may have racked in the cash, and sold out stadiums, but all that success was powered by the idiocy of thirteen year old girls. That isn’t to say thirteen year old girls are any dumber than thirteen year old boys. It’s simply to say no one at thirteen has or ever will make an informed, competent decision; no consumer is more easily dooped than a tween.
I went to one of H.E.R.’s concerts, and looking out over a sea of screaming little girls I couldn’t help feeling like I'd contributed to the decline of humanity. Of course kids grow out of things as they get older. Many times that growth leads them to be more discerning in the future as they wonder why in fuck-all they ever enjoyed the things they did, especially musically. However, enough exposure to pure toxic shit is likely to warp a person’s brain. A certain nostalgia might linger influencing decisions the listener makes down the road. I felt guilty because I knew these songs inspiring young girls‘ first sense of romance were completely hollow. Lyrics such as, “I love you cause I want you cause I need you/ Feed my soul to keep me whole,/ and I’ll turn the world into a pearl for you girl,” still haunt my nightmares. Instead of learning about love from music written with genuine feeling they explored their first inklings of the emotion through two guys’ sarcasm.
In those days Matt and I would get into these drunken, non-joking debates. He insisted art stops belonging entirely to the artist once there’s an audience. The audience gives the art new meaning based on what they see in it. As such, his syllogism concluded that although we made something vacuous the audience saw it as meaningful, ergo it had meaning. I wanted to agree, but it felt like rationalization. The original intention loomed too great in the background. If Matt was right then why something is created is secondary to the effect it has. Although, I suppose music (and history in general) is full of such moments. Look at “Born in the USA” or the French Revolution. Neither of those really ended up becoming what they started out being about. Yet, for all his mental gymnastics Matt still possessed one bone of contention.
Telling women you’re a songwriter does intrigue them. However, there seems to be an implication about a man who writes love songs designed for thirteen year old girls. Either he wants to fuck little girls, or he’s a corporate tool manipulating the emotions of innocent children. Our success with H.E.R., in essence, cock blocked Matt.
So it was we both decided to jump ship.
I remember phoning Mr. Atwood to tell him, “I quit.”
He laughed. I remember it being more unholy than it actually was.
I won’t bore you with details regarding my breach of contract trial. Suffice it to say the mouse drained me of every penny I’d made. I didn’t think it was such a great loss till I discovered violating my contract resulted in the forfeiture of any future royalties. As such, I made a mountain of money only to lose it all fighting a mouse.
Matt saw what happened to me, so he did the smart thing. He towed the company line, helped them write a three more albums, and now lives in Wilmette, one of the richest suburbs in the Chicago area. He is currently putting together a female version of H.E.R.
Sadly, the band H.E.R. self destructed. Apparently, putting three seventeen year old boys in a state of pseudo-rockstardom and surrounding them with girls too young to have sex with will eventually cause them to rationalize having sex with thirteen year old girls. I think the rest is self evident. (On the off chance it isn’t, ask a friend to explain it to your ignorant ass. I may have a dark sense of humor, but I‘m not about to go into detail about 13 year old groupie orgies.)
Still, when it comes to H.E.R., well, she’ll always have a strange place in my heart.
Anyway, I can tell by my manager’s face this little break is over.
Welcome to Flannigan’s Shenanigans. Our specials today are deep fried…