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(TV) Surviving a Musical Gulag or More than You'd Ever Want to Know Ab out Squeeze & Glenn Tilbrook / "Tough" / D. Poe, E.A. Poe, & A. Poe
> Howard wrote: ps, what's wrong with Squeeze?
> they wrote some great songs!
I only put Squeeze's name in my screenplay to see if anybody
actual reads anything that I post to the MM List. (When I was
in Graduate school there was a humanities professor who had
a reputation for not reading much more than the beginning
and end of all his students term papers, so once on a dare,
several of us placed a string of expletives in the middle pages
----puerile stuff along the lines of "... this results in the coefficient
of correlation being 0.68, and then they fucked, which means the
two variables can not be independent ...".)
Of course, the above Squeeze rational is a total bald-faced lie.
I must be honest---I can't plead the 5th on this one---I don't care
much for Squeeze's music (I believe it's a combination of my
strong aversion to the lead singer's voice and to their
melodies/songs. Yipes, I can't believe I just wrote that----I guess
that doesn't leave me much room to remain open minded and give
Squeeze's music a more careful listen. I was actually kind of
surprised that more Squeeze fans didn't complain---you're the only
one so far---about my slur (something about their music being but
one example of the sonic garbage that will for forever fill airwaves
of interglactic space). Tilbrook seems like a nice guy, a funny
guy; a guy who I might want to have a beer or two with
sometime -------just as long as he doesn't try to sing in my ear
while we're drinking.
More seriously, if it makes you feel any better I believe I was
*severely* punished, almost brutalized (ahead-of-time as it turned
out) for yesterday's uncalled-for remarks against Squeeze. Last
Friday night I reluctantly volunteered to accompany a friend of mine,
to see Glen Tilbrook (formerly of the band Squeeze) at the House of
Blues (HB) in Cambridge.
I thought my friend had only asked me because he didn't want to
attend the concert alone, so I agreed to go with him against my
better judgment, and despite an overwhelming sense of foreboding.
I guess it just shows what a "loyal friend" I can be (maybe "masochist"
is more accurate). But when I later met him at the HB he was eating
Cajun food at the HB's downstairs restaurant with two of his other
friends, who he had also bought tickets to see Glen Tilbrook.
Shooooot, I thought, if only I had known this beforehand I could've
bowed out gracefully. When we went upstairs the concert room
was small and jam-packed----no seats just people stacked to the
walls like cords of wood-----I felt like a prisoner.
At 9:10 the warm up act, singer song-writer, David Poe, came on
with his electrified acoustic guitar 40 minutes late----all the more
time for HB to sell the crowd more overpriced drinks. Poe's songs
and playing weren't half bad, but his constant banter with the
audience struck me as calculated-----especially when between
songs he repeatedly mentioned how Tilbrook was such a good buddy
to him. My only regret is not having cornered him at the bar during
intermission, and asking him if he was related to one of my literary
heroes, Edgar Allan Poe, or even asked him about the infamous
Amos Poe video, "Blank Generation".)
After an intermission and another delay totaling 70 minutes, Glen
Tilbrook (solo) arrived with his electrified acoustic guitar. The guy
certainly has a great set of lungs (and maybe voice), but during his
first song I cringed during some of the vocals. After the first song
the audience went bananas. After about the 3rd or 4th song I
realized that I was in serious trouble as all his songs, at least
when accompanied by acoustic guitar, sounded the same
(not really fair, I know, since it's probably true of most performers,
who one has never seen before--especially when non electric---even
Television probably sounds like a one-trick pony to many hearing
them live for the first time, although just the thought of such
Television listeners gives me the heebie-jeebies).
Tilbrook was a total extrovert-----full of himself (not in a bad way),
friendly, a born showman, a little slick, the consummate performer
---and appeared extremely confident. You' ve heard of the positron,
the counterpart (and anti-matter particle) to the negatively charged
electron?-----well, Tilbrook struck me as a sort of an anti-Verlaine.
And the more I cringed and the more I agonized during his
performance, the more the audience seemed to encourage him
and the louder their cheers. Although I had been intellectually
aware for 25 years that Television/Verlaine would never be as big,
aka "successful", as Squeeze/Tilbrook ever were/are, the concert
was still almost more than my musical-stoicism could bear-----not
even my pre-concert dread or steeling myself against the worst that
could happen, sufficiently prepared me for my welter of painful
emotions, and for being literally forced to observe the vast chasm in
and subjectiveness of people's musical tastes. During a couple of
these interminable moments I wallowed in self-pity----feeling like I
was one of the most musically lonely men in the world, a man
who had been banished to a kind of musical Gulag.
By the 7th song of the set I had reached a crisis, I had now been
standing in almost the exact same spot for 3 hours, without hardly
being able to move; moreover, my back was giving out. But it was
during this nadir in the evening that the *mental toughness* that is
legendary and inherent in almost every Television fan came to the
fore and proved most valuable. (Christ, you bet your freakin' arses,
us Television fans are tough, tough bastards, we're tough alright,
tough as nails, we've had to be to survive these long and lonely years,
the decades of skepticism and derision ("Tele-WHO?"), and the worst
of all: just plain-old bad taste. And don't forget about having to be loyal
fans to a musical group that's more of an apparition than a
flesh-and-blood, corporal band of men, and what about the toughness
needed to keep awaitin' for new TV musical-product that we know
deep-down in our hearts will never be heard in our lifetimes---or maybe
even our in children's lifetimes! We're tough, do you think Glenn
Tilbrook's fans, or for that matter James Taylor's fans, could have ever
held out this long if their man were just a mere cult figure, if their guy had
never had a hit in the U.S., if the best slot their guy's album had ever
reached on the musical charts was having their 2nd record being # 7
in the U.K.? What do you think would have happened to those
Tilbrook or Taylor fans then? That's right, they would've folded----
folded their freakin' tents! )
Not only was I tough, but my mind was now operating like a steel trap;
I quickly formulated a plan. I pleaded physical exhaustion to my friend,
but at the same time tried desperately to hide from him my musical ennui.
I told him I was heading for the back of the room where I'd meet him later.
After about 5 minutes at the back of the room and feeling like a traitor,
I slunk out the rear door and finally escaped into silence and the
refreshing night air.
In a perfect world I would now regale you with tales about how I then
feverishly drove myself to my house in Milton, then shuttered myself
in my musical haven and purged myself of Squeeze/Tilbrook (and all
memories of their legions of fans) by playing at full throttle and
back-to-back the albums "Marquee Moon" and "Dreamtime". But we
were not meant to dwell or linger in such perfection; so, instead of a
purging I surrendered to total physical and emotional exhaustion and
crawled into bed.
By late the next day it became apparent that my friend had been so
drunk on HB's rum and cokes that he never really missed me.
In fact, he still thinks that I had a great time at the HB, and now
constantly plays Squeeze and solo-Tilbrook cds whenever I'm around
him. Worst of all, he keeps talking about featuring Squeeze songs like
"Cool for Cats"[?] at my first dance-party in 12 years next month.
So to the MM List, and especially to Howard: can you offer me some
advice (either on-List or off) about how to extricate myself from this
dilemma? Should I call a spade, a spade, and tell my friend how I really
feel about Squeeze/Tilbrook, and thereby risk hurting his feelings and
coming across like a hypocritical snob? Or maybe you could recommend
some songs by Squeeze that I don't know about (there are many) and which
are also danceable or at least rock out? Or maybe there's a chance
I'll revert back to my tough-Television-fan self and play "See No Evil" or
all 9 minute and 58 seconds of "Marquee Moon"?
PS: All of the above is absolutely a True Story, except that I may not be quite
as "tough" as I may have portrayed myself. I still get pretty sad and almost
"lose it a little" whenever I'm in used record/cd stores and see an old, beat up,
copy of "Dreamtime" with the black and white front cover photo of Tom's head
with a great big rectangular cut-out nick in it
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