My dad used to take me to see the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as a kid, and from those experiences I developed an appreciation for classical music that I wouldn’t have any other way. You sure don’t get the same experience from listening to it on a sound system, I don’t care how good it is. There is nothing like being there in the moment.
I saw an article via a facebook friend about more or less “famous” venues of Detroit’s musical past which got me thinking about a club I used to play in back in the late 80s, which closed down decades ago.
Reflecting back on it, the place was sort of pivotal in my life. I remember the first time I looked up from my bass guitar to see some longhairs head-banging to the music at the foot of the stage. It was the first time I saw a mosh pit, saw a girl get her face slam danced into the cinder block wall. I saw the groupies doing cocaine backstage with the headlining act. It was the first place I ever encountered neo-nazi skinheads. It was a crazy scene, and I just decided “hey, this isn’t for me”.
But it also got me thinking about something unrelated to my brief “career” in music. Recently, Rob Ritchie, or Kid Rock, played with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. I remember the first time I heard him rap about going behind the garage to smoke a joint before cutting the lawn, and I thought “haha, that’s just how it was when I was growing up.” But, there was a lot of stuff in his lyrics that I thought was just plain dumb. But the overall thing that made an impression on me was: dang the young ladies seem wild about him.
So, I’ve got conflicting feelings about his success. I identify with both his and Marshall Mathers III’s, (Eminem), lyrical styles, because when I was young, I constantly wrote in a similar vein. It probably sounds conceited to compare myself to 2 of the most successful artists out of Detroit in the last 3 decades, but let me be clear: what I wrote sucked. But it was the same kind of angsty stuff. Now, it’s also unfair for me to say my stuff sucked and then compare it to these guys, so let me add that: these guys earned every bit of their success, and I might be jealous, but I don’t begrudge them that.
A real quick aside about Marshall Mathers III, we used to play volleyball at the Albuquerque Sportsplex, and go sing karaoke afterwords. I mentioned the ladies seemed wild about Ritchie, I remember how much my friend’s son loved Mathers music. The kids seem to love him.
The point of this, though, is that well, what does it say about popular culture when the lyrics that lead to success are about getting wasted? And once you make it big, you’re suddenly an ambassador, of sorts, for your hometown. I use Kid Rock in this just because he recently played with the [gosh darn] DSO. Look at Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr, Snoop Dogg. There’s a pretty clear message that this is what works in the entertainment world. Enough people identify with this that it’s a billion dollar industry.
I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to what it all means.
update: I didn’t realise that the Kid Rock/DSO show was a fund-raiser for the cash-strapped DSO. So, let me attempt to get over myself, and say in spite of my mixed feelings about Kid Rock, that’s pretty darned cool.