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WHEN ROCK WRITERS RULED THE EARTH

Creem magazine cover Tom Petty The Police Blondie

JASON GROSS of POP MATTERS recently asked me what advice I would give to a young writer wanting to make it big in the rock-crit biz. I thought about it, and here's what I said--

ROBERT HULL (writer, sharing his musings regularly at POPKRAZY, an online hangout for brain-damaged popcult fanatics)

When I was 18, I was getting published by Creem because Lester Bangs liked the fact that I was so prolific (I had sent him about 50 record reviews, each one single-spaced on a letter-sized page).

These days, the best way to appear prolific is to blog yourself to death on your own site. I honestly don’t know what music journalism is anymore. There is so much content available that to try to break through the mess seems daunting.

Nevertheless, I would attach myself to several blogs/sites, then write in a unique style, be serious but funny (and genuine), and try not to imitate anybody.

[Any young (or old) up-and-coming neer-do-well is welcome to blog at my site called POPKRAZY. Just as Creem and Lester gave me a chance, I’d be honored to do the same. (POPKRAZY is a nonprofit zine/site focused on all aspects of pop culture from the days of yore.)]

But whatever you do, WRITE. Don’t just talk about writing. Let it loose!



GOD'S GREATEST HITMAKERS

I absolutely LOVE the Chuck Wagon Gang!!

I first heard their recordings, I think, on Rev. Mull's Singing Convention on his flagship station WJBZ in Knoxville.  On this praise station, Rev. Mull and his wife hosted the show and taught Bible prophecy.  (My father was a Presbyterian minister in Knoxville at the time, but this program had music that was somewhat rawer--more heartfelt, it seemed--than what I was hearing at my father's church.)

The Chuck Wagon Gang sang everything, every sacred song you could name.  Formed in 1936 by founding member D.P. Carter with his son Jim and daughters Rose and Anna, the Chuck Wagon Gang eventually signed with Columbia Records and remained with the label for over 40 years.  At one time, the Chuck Wagon Gang were Columbia's NUMBER ONE selling group.  In my opinion, they are the greatest Southern Gospel musical group ever.

Growing up in Tennessee in the '50s and '60s, you could hear the Chuck Wagon Gang on the radio consistently every Sunday morning.  It just wasn't Sunday without 'em.

Here is one of their sacred songbooks, a true treasure from the folks downhome, which is always the place to be---if you can ever get there.





DAWN OF THE DOOTZ

The Dootz Does the Dootz 45 sleeve

If you can imagine it, there once existed a bizarre cross between American punk's Legendary Stardust Cowboy, the author of the histrionic "Paralyzed," and rockabilly's the Phantom, who won our hearts with the mysterious "Love Me."

His name was the Dootz, and he singlehandedly created a stylistic blend that can only be described as mutant American primitivism. This radical sound, born in the early '80s, was downright psychotic to the point of being transcendental.  It was the creation of one David Frey Johns, who had spent most of his life singing to records in his room and wailing in friends' showers, hoping one day to be heard in a social context.

As a child David Johns was called "Duke" by his father, a nickname that eventually evolved into "Dootz."  "My dad and I used to sing together when we went to church," the Dootz once told me, "but we had our own version of 'Onward Christian Soldiers.'  Everybody else was singing it the right way.

Johns' earliest musical influences were typical--Elvis, the Beatles, Buddy Holly--but he was especially devoted to James Brown and Jackie Wilson, two performers who possessed an intense emotional style both on record and in performance.  At times, the future Dootz even considered himself more of a soul singer because he could reach deep down and pour himself inside out with feelings from real-life experience.



Here They Come....

 

....from

All Over The World.....

 



THE IDIOCRACY OF FACEBOOK

Here's the kind of thing your FB friends sometimes suggest you do on Facebook. The idea here is to write down 25 random thoughts that you think are clever and will make others scream with laughter.

Here's how three rock writers (whatever THAT means these days) wasted their time with this idiotic exercise.

[PLEASE do not leave your unkind comments after reading this buffoonery. Send your notes of complaint to the geeks at Facebook. We were just following directions.]



Boomtown!

Boom Boom Boomtown!

For boys of a certain age, certain time, adventure role models were characters more of this world than others. Taking your cues from Classics Illustrated, Wonder-Books, American Heritage histories and Marvel Comics, you might want to be a cowboy, a sea captain, an aviator (or the riskier version of that, a fighter pilot), a sports hero or some outsized superhero. Boys more darkly inclined might want to be gunslingers, pirates, Baron Von Richthofen, Bizzaro or a New York Yankee. All these characters were romanticized, and all, upon closer inspection, would reveal flaws, kinks in their makeup and the kinds of shortcomings that would shatter the idealized version. If you wanted to feel the air to go out of the balloon, all you had to do was put down the juvenile literature and read some eyewitness history, biography or open your own eyes to see Yaz sneaking a cigarette in the Boston Red Sox dugout.

In adolescence you’d discover that the American frontier attracted a lot of sociopaths, Ty Cobb was a racist and illegal gambling was part of most games, war was an ugly and unnecessary thing and in fantasy land, the price of being a superhero was a life of secrets and isolation. I think I’m pretty safe in saying, one could still go out to sea, but in hindsight it seems like a very lonely thing to do. There was, however, a type of hero celeb who seemed insulated from scandal, muck and mire, at least as far as my experience was concerned, and that was the local kids show host, the affable guy with the gimmick and the cartoons.



The Pope Smokes

 

Like a lizard

on a windowpane....