With Jaybee in the role of the volcano.
A while back, Flavorwire recently ran a fun article about famous feuds between journalist and musicians.
I tend to side with the musicians in these things because, well, without the music, what would anyone be writing about and thus, feuding over?
Voice of my conscience: Oh, really Jaybee? Aren’t you forgetting something???
Oh yeah, there was that time Joe Jackson and I had some words…
VOMC: Words, Jaybee? Words?
Well, yeah. It was like this…
It was 1979 and I’m with my friends at a local club to hear the then hot-new-wave singer-songwriter-angry-young-man-kind-of-like-Elvis-Costello Joe Jackson. You know Joe. He’s the guy who did “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” (I loved “Sunday Papers” myself.) He’d just come out with his second album I’m The Man and was touring the States when he came to my town. I was more of an Elvis fan, but when my friends suggested going I was in.
Now Joe had this song on his first album called “Fools in Love”, whose reggae-ish arrangement really reminded me (and some other people) of Elvis’s “Watching the Detectives”. But, hey no one’s perfect.
In retrospect, I was just a dumb kid who noticed one obvious similarity between two songs, and acted as if I found the cure for polio. Ironically, if I knew a little more about reggae at the time, I would have noted this as, at most, a minor stylistic similarity and moved on.
But I didn’t.
We miraculously got seats right near the front and were enjoying the first part of the set, when I heard the band tuning up for “Fools in Love”. So I figured it was time for someone to be an asshole, and that it might as well be me. So I called out for “Watching the Detectives”.
I got a good laugh from the crowd, if I do say so myself. And Joe knew I got him pretty good. But these show biz types didn’t get to where they were without knowing how to deal with hecklers. Joe’s reply? He said, “In every bed of roses, there’s always got to be one prick.” And he got an even bigger laugh. As they say, Oh snap!
I didn’t mind. I had just rubbed shoulders with a famous person, and like Mark David Chapman, I figured any kind of shoulder-rubbing was good. (Too soon?)
And that’s it.
So, okay, it doesn’t quite qualify as a feud, and hence didn’t make the article.
But I’m certain that I’ve had a profound impact on Joe’s life – after all he sounds nothing like Elvis now. So I hope that on balance, he feels he’s done as well by me as I’ve done by him, and that he’s gotten past any hard feelings he may have had. Ain’t no thang, as Omar might say.
And me? I’m doing fine. While no one’s stopped me on the street to ask if I’m the guy who said that thing to Joe Jackson, it only has been thirty years.