It has been too often quoted that ‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture’. What you hold in your hands is the great mash up between Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf Nureyev.
I was in 7th grade when the first issue of Creem magazine was shoved into my hands. I had an older neighbor who helped shape my musical taste, and I had been reading Rolling Stone for a couple of years. My mentor didn’t suffer fools lightly nor did he have much tolerance for my incessant questions or my pilfering of his records. But my passion for all things music far outweighed decorum or legality and he finally begrudgingly let me into his world and occasionally let me sit in his room as he lectured me on the history and chronology of pop music. My first taste of Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, George Jones, Phil Ochs, Thelonius Monk peppered with his mutterings like, ‘I’d eat through a mile of Tina Turner’s shit to get to her asshole’ formed an indelible childhood experience. It was him that passed me on the street as I held a Ten Years After album, which he grabbed and threw across the highway and quickly replaced with a worn copy of Al Green’s I’m Still in Love with You with one dignity crushing word, ‘Here’. And it was him that did the same thing as I had a copy of Rolling Stone under my arm and he burned it in front of me, handed me a copy of Creem and said, ‘Jesus Eddie, here’.
Self described as ‘America’s Only Rock and Roll Magazine’ (such arrogance!) I savored Creem’s irreverence and Lester Bangs, their critic, became my God. I collected books by Robert Christgeau, Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, and the great Nick Tosches. These voices, guides if you will, were paths to mysterious destinations fulfilling treasures, and had I not lost them all in a divorce I’d consult them still. But it was the voice of Lester, that brilliant wreck of a man with visionary and exquisite taste that shaped my art. I named my son Detroit, the home base and sensibility of Creem so that should be an indication of it’s influence.
I’m not one for nostalgia. I don’t long for the good old days of rock and roll. If I were a kid now I wouldn’t find much to listen to that one would call rock and roll. I love the fact that hip hop rankles parents. Watching middle age men in tight pants acting like adolescents I find ridiculous and embarrassing. What we do need however is smart and funny people pissing off the status quo. Pushing that envelope. Fully embracing intellectualism with their tongue firmly implanted in their cheek. Hence my admiration for Mike Little and the title you just bought. And the 6 copies you purchased for your friends. In a contemporary world where any Justin Beiber fan can find an agreeable critic online, where Jon Bon Jovi gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where the president of the United States is a moronic cretin and millions of Americans find that admirable and rally behind him, it’s important to find hope. And smarts. And a boatload of laughs. And I find it in the hysteria inducing cynicism, razor sharp wit, attack dog criticism of Mike Little. For those of us that need to find humanism in our misanthropism, who might just think, ‘Hey America, you’re bloated, murderous and stupid and you have shitty taste but I don’t!’ you’ve hit pay dirt. Enjoy.
Aka Hamell on Trial