Say Goodnight, Dick

I’m feeling ragged and emotional tonight.

Sydney Pollack is dead. Dick Martin is dead. I accidentally deleted ten directories off the network today at work. It will take one full day to recover from that, plus the stress of trying to conceal that it was my fault, followed by catching up on all the work I didn’t do while I was recovering from my stupid mistake.

I’m feeling rotten about my band. I’ve always known I’d get nowhere with it, and that was OK. It was just for fun, just so I wouldn’t have to be defined as a low level bureaucrat in a legal-but-immoral corporate enterprise, just so I could forget my real life, just so I could touch the strings and hear the noise, just so I wouldn’t die in utter boredom, just so I could share the happiness I feel from playing rock’n’roll.

But my bandmates don’t get it. I don’t know what they think I’m about as a musician, but the other day it was strongly suggested that we learn and perform a song called “Kryptonite,” by a band called 3 Doors Down. I resisted as long as I could, because I smelled something fishy, but over the weekend I was forced to listen to it for the first time, and I thought it was some kind of joke: a wall of distorted guitar is thrown up at the 8th measure, and it stays up for the next three minutes, no dynamics, no letup, while a “singer” intones sophomoric lyrics, the melody ranging perhaps from “A” to “C”. It probably fades out. I don’t remember. It wouldn’t be worth the server space to post the MP3 or the lyrics to this piece. I’ll just say it isn’t merely a song that wouldn’t be right for my band. It’s a crappy song, period.

Today, after I fucked up the network, I looked up the song, and I found out it was a monster hit eight years ago, Number One on the Billboard chart, and 3 Doors Down won a million awards for the song and the album it was on, and it made them huge headlining stars and they’re rich and idolized all over the world.

And I hate it. That’s how far out of it I am.

I’m not used to being out of it like that, and it’s depressing me. I made my feelings about the song clear to the band, and they’ve backed off as if they’d stepped on a rattlesnake. So I’m pretty sure I’ll never actually have to play “Kryptonite,” but what turns me upside down is the thought that someone — someone I know — would suggest that song to me. Am I working with guys who have no discrimination at all?

I guess I can hope that we are in one of those generally sucky periods of music, such as the one that immediately preceded the first English Invasion in 1963, when Tommy James and the Shondells were the best we could get on the Top 40 radio, or just before the Punk/New Wave explosion in the late 1970’s, when tedious pomp rock ruled the airwaves. People that come of musical age during such awful times don’t know any better. I can’t blame them for making “Kryptonite” a hit.

Now, I’m sure, I’ve offended somebody, and I’m sorry. That seems to be what I do lately, and I’m sorry for all my sins and it’s been 40 years since my last confession. Mea maxima culpa. If you can defend “Kryptonite,” please do. If you can tell me what’s profound or memorable or clever or even fun about it, I’d like to hear.

And now a gratuitous picture of Goldie Hawn in a French maid’s uniform. Say goodnight, Dick.

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17 Replies to “Say Goodnight, Dick”

  1. Another courageous piece, Mr. Jones.

    If it’s any comfort, I’ve never heard of the song or band, either. And I’m the same age as you are — with, I think, a background of hungry acceptance for the British Invasion and Punk, and a knowledge of what happened between (and maybe a greater liking of it; for example, I liked ELO and David Bowie).

    That said, I’m tempted to be depressed at not at least knowing something about “Kryptonite.” It seems like sort of an obligation to know something so important to millions of people.

    I throttle my depression, though, with the assertion that what I’ve decided to keep track of is more important to the survival of the human race and the superior aspects of Western culture — things like how to recycle number-five plastics and how to use semicolons.

    And then I regain my normal sense of superiority by asserting that “Kryptonite” devotees are effete in-breds who are causing the decline of this once-great country in countless ways — talking on cell phones at libraries, running red lights in their Escalades, raising kids who bring guns to school.

    But when I realize that millions and millions of people enjoy what you have describe, and then consider that such a fact is the tip of an iceberg, and that the iceberg is this mass of hopelessness and shit … well, then I think about being depressed.

    But I don’t go there. I turn it off, tamp it down, stuff it into a corner. I don’t have the courage, and I hope I can stay numb. In fact, right now, I’m even dumb to Goldie Hawn — in the morning, while sober!

  2. Goodnight, Dick.

    I used to watch Laugh-In with my dad, though I wasn’t quite old enough to get all the jokes. And I used the “say goodnight, [kid]” with chuck’s kid–even though he’s 11 now, and he and i don’t sleep in the same apartment any longer, we still do it.

    I’m sorry you’re feeling so crappy, Larry. I’d make it better for you if I could, and I hope you know that there are a bunch of us out here who love you. I like the way you keep fighting the good fight, and I like your compassion, and I like the way you keep trying to be as good as you can be.

  3. Aww, Larry. I was listening to “Sad Lisa” and “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens this morning while driving my Mom to the airport. It was a surprise, the music — my husband had ordered the Stevens CDs and left them in the car. I didn’t know he’d ordered them. So I just enjoyed the music and let it transport me into the past, which seems a kinder, gentler, more innocent and just plain easier time to me. Cat made me smile. I sang along. My Mom laughed. And I wished … well.

    I’ve listened to your music here on your blog. I think you’re a talented musician, and it’s quite clear that you completely “get” the joy the music carries in it. Some of the newer stuff is so cynical, so overproduced, and frankly, discordant. It may be my age talking. Or maybe nostalgia. But I’m proud of you for refusing to learn and perform noise as music. Hang in there. You’re on the right path and it sounds to me like you always have been.

    Take a nice deep breath, break out the guitar and play yourself something you love. For me.

  4. Every now and then I let down my guard and just plain whine in this space, and someone always comes to my emotional rescue. Thanks everyone, for making me feel better. You’re all so nice!
    I should mention that Michael Bains couldn’t get to this comment section because his employer blocks it for some reason (maybe the use of the word “Dick”?), but he emailed me to defend the song, calling it “…a pretty decent modern rock jam which is a blast to riff on and the kind of tune on which I could never play the drums.” Nice try, Michael, but it’s not a good song just because it has a difficult drum part. Thank you, though, for your kind words. Oh — also, Michael calls the song “Superman,” in case any of you are trying to download it.

  5. Virtual hugs.

    i have no attachment to 3 Doors Down. I’m in the demographic, but…eh.

    Sounds like you need some musicians whose music is closer to your heart…

  6. Kind of titillating, AG. But, hey — my last Jewish girlfriend didn’t mind my non-semitic-ness. In fact, she thought my mongrel background was kind of extra naughty, and we worked hard on world unity.

  7. I can’t defend the song. It’s not good. It is catchy though. And easy to bop/nod your head along to. But really, really not a good song. I would be sad too, if I had any musical ability, and I was in a band, and my band wanted to learn it. It’s not just you.

  8. Adorable Girlfriend
    Strike One: I’m not Jewish.

    Strike Two: I am so not single.

    Strike Three: I think you should expand your horizons, so I can’t procure a man for you from among my Jewish friends.

    Now that I’m out, can we still be bloggin’ buddies?

    Kathleen – This whole Superman/Kryptonite thing has derailed me more than I expected. I’m having serious doubts about my hipness, which I’d previously considered to be unassailable. All things shall pass, I guess. I still have my old blues records.

  9. Hey, Mr. Music. I told you I’d check back. I expected to find all manner of Democratic disarray but this was a pleasant surprise. I detect a real human being behind the opinionizing.

    I got just one insight to pass along: You say you made a mistake at your computer. I bet when you hit that return you weren’t thinking it might be a mistake. In fact, you wrote that it took a while for you to accept that you had made a mistake. That’s pretty normal.

    So you say you like to “share the happiness” you feel playing music. So don’t throw it away. My thought is that you open yourself a little bit to the idea that maybe it’s you who are making another kind of mistake here. Maybe the band is right that this is a step your group as whole needs to take. Maybe your resistance isn’t really the right thing, just like hitting that return on your computer wasn’t really the right move. Just because you “smell something fishy” doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from a new experience.

    If half the world loves the song, maybe it’s not just because they “don’t know any better.” Maybe you’re hitting that return key out of habit or prejudice that has nothing to do with anything but your own self-imposed limits.

    In any case, don’t give up on your music and your mates just to stay true to some vague noion that the only music worth playing is the particular kind that makes you feel good.

    That’s as touchy-feely as I care to go.


  10. Good advice from ST. It does only go so far, though. Maybe learning it makes ya like it. Maybe it just reinforces your disdain. No biggy either way, eh.

    What I really stopped back to say is; Thanks for the French Maid Goldie! Yum! 😉


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