Surprisingly few rockers can be described as ‘exuberant.’ But every so often a musician comes along who just loves playing music so much that he just exudes joy with every performance. I have always been drawn to this type of artist because I, myself, find the act of creating music to be profoundly joyful.
These acts tend to sneak up on me. But once they do, they stick in my mind forever. For instance, I remember crowding around a friend’s TV set on another dull Saturday night at Gordon College to watch SNL. When they introduced the musical act, Andrew W.K., I was ready for a white R&B singer to take the stage. What happened next was something completely different – and it stunned at least a dozen college students into awed silence for the duration of the performance.
Waiting for They Might Be Giants to perform at Avalon in Boston, the audience was serenaded by a no-less-compelling oddball sporting an accordion and accenting his choruses with a tiny splash cymbal he operated with a foot pedal. He went by the name of Corn Mo and he made this inspired speech which made me love him, even if I wasn’t completely sold on his music.
These two artists’ lyrics tend to be simple and straightforward. Andrew W.K. mostly sings about partying:
And Corn Mo has songs about his resemblance to Gary Busey and a time when his friend Jason peed on his other friend at recess one day in grammar school (the other friend was also named Jason, making the lyrics somewhat confusing, yet enslaved to Truth). Here he is giving an inspired performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live:
In case all of this seems too liberal for you, here is Andrew W.K. appearing on Fox News.
And here he is doing the weather for some reason.
When I saw Andrew W.K. in Boston, the crowd rushed the stage during the very first song. They danced wildly all around the band until the end of the song when the bouncers, slightly embarrassed, managed to clear everyone from the stage. But by the fourth song, we were back up there jumping around and high-fiving the band members. Some of the musicians simply dropped out of the mix. One of the guitarists managed to climb on top of the wall of speakers and continue playing. And through it all, somewhere in the chaos, you could hear Andrew W.K.’s raspy vocals. Finally, he pushed his way through to the front of the stage. He was crying tears of joy as he addressed the crowd, “This is amazing,” he sobbed. “This is unbelievable.”
These joyous rock stars are rare birds indeed. But kindred spirits tend to find one another, as Corn Mo and Andrew W.K. do here.
It must be hard to be angry and depressed all the time when you are living the life of a rocker, even a rocker with as limited appeal as Corn Mo. And it’s hard for me to understand how so many bands can take themselves so seriously for so long. When you are following your dreams, using your gifts and sharing them with others, you should be excited about it. And if that means playing a piano in the middle of a metal performance without any sense of irony, or incorporating elements of circus music with glam rock, then I say, “Go with it!”
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