Sunday, August 26, 2012

Confessions of St. Jaybee: My Cover Story

Dear Mike:

I have a confession.  I’ve committed the sin of lameness. (Eleventh Commandment, I believe). I’m telling you because I need dispensation.

What did I do, you ask? Well, I went to see a cover band.  

I told you it was lame.

But I have an excuse! The band was covering Television. Get that? A. Television. Cover. Band. I didn’t think such things existed either.

I’m aware of the many such bands that play at BB Kings all time. They imitate Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, U2, Led Zeppelin, etc. You name a classic rock band, and there’ll be a tribute band for them. We even took my son and nephew to a “Beatles Brunch” there, but I had an excuse: it was for the kids. Yeah, sure.

How did this come to pass, you might ask? No? I’ll tell you anyway.

I found out about it through my trusty skint email, which announced a “Classic Album Night” at the Brooklyn Bowl. I could have ignored it easily enough, but when it said that the first of the three albums to be featured would be Television’s Marquee Moon, I did a double take. The second would be the Police’s Synchronicity, which would get Mrs. Jaybee to come along. The third was something by Pat Benatar, which I couldn’t even bear to stay for, even if it meant getting to mock people - my favorite pastime.

So we headed for the Brooklyn Bowl, where you can eat, drink, bowl and listen to music all in one place, and simultaneously if you really try. But they don’t recommend it. The main dish is fried chicken, and I expect they’ve had their share of flying bowling balls due to greasy fingers.

I would never try such a thing myself, having trouble with even a single activity involving motor skills and heavy objects. Besides, the last time I was in a bowling alley, I was having a bite to eat with friends while waiting for a lane to open up. Good times. Beers, burgers and lively conversation. So lively in fact that, at one point, I got distracted and tried to drink from the ketchup bottle while pouring beer on my burger.

So Mrs. Jaybee advised sticking to the eating drinking and listening, and leaving the bowling to the experts..

There were some pathetic geezers there, too, who didn’t know any better than to stand alone on the dance floor in their sandals and socks. But mostly it was young-ish people. Though  band was old enough to talk about “flipping the record over” half way through the set.

And Little Johnny and the Jewels did all right.  They were a bit sloppy, and didn’t try to look or sing like Tom Verlaine, thank god.  And they played bitchin’ guitars.  What more could I ask?

Then came New York’s Finest (get it?) to cover the Police. Now, Mrs. Jaybee is a big Police fan, which was the only way she was going to go.  And me? Well, I have a blog post drafted - but never posted - entitled “F*ck the Police”.  Which may be an overreaction. I don’t hate them. I just never loved them.

And why not? They put out five good to excellent records. Their musicianship is impeccable. They have their own, instantly recognizable sound.  Sting is an excellent songwriter, a good singer, a humanitarian, and damned good-looking, too. Ask Mrs. Jaybee. (Ahh, I think we’re getting to the root of the problem now....)

Television, on the other hand, only managed two studio albums, and one live one before breaking up. Some fans don’t even care for the second album. The leader sings/looks weird, and was considered to be almost as big an asshole as Lou Reed.  

And yet I like Television more. Maybe I just like my bands ugly. That way, I don’t get jealous.

But New York’s Finest came roaring out of the gate! (Maybe “roaring” is the wrong word. The singer is clearly Sting’s illegitimate son, who inherited dad’s high voice.)

And while the band played (perfectly, by the way) song after excellent song (except Andy Summer’s hilarious “Mother”, maybe because it was so un Police-like? Hey what kind of commitment is that?  Is it a Classic Album Night or what?) I had to admit to really respecting Synchronicity. It was as good as I remembered.

But as good as that is, I still don’t love it. Like Led Zeppelin IV, it’s a record whose popularity is completely understandable, but one that I’ll never fully embrace.   

And why am I giving this so much thought, anyway? Doesn’t that just make the whole enterprise that much more pathetic?  After all, don’t I pride myself on being the one who was always trying to broaden his horizons?  And here I am spending my time and money on a simulated experience.

Me - the one who once scoffed at a bouncer who tried to get a $14 cover out of me because the band inside “sounded just like the Doors”, and who went to the bar half a block away, the one with no cover and perfectly good blues band playing?

Maybe it was the fourteen bucks...

So Mike, get back to me and tell me that it was just a lark, that you don’t get to see a Television cover band every day, and that we never got to see the real thing to begin with.

And most of all, as I approach my 55th birthday, that I’m not the pathetic geezer I’m beginning to suspect I am.

Your friend (and new AARP member),


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