One day I came home from work and I took my pants off, as I usually do, and began washing some dishes. On this particular day, I was scraping the bottom of the barrel, undergarment-wise. Yes indeed. The tighty whiteys. As I scrubbed the overcooked Ramen noodles off of my soup bowl, I noticed someone in the building across the way, looking over at me with a quizzical eye.
And I said to them defiantly (but mostly to myself), "Yes, I wear tighty whiteys in the window."
Except I didn't quite say it like that.
Nay, I said it a little bit more like a tweeker pinching his testicles while sucking on a helium tank. Suddenly enamored with this new hook, I attempted to keep the rhythm and rhyme flowing. Unfortunately, the best I could muster was the line, "something something, smoking indo," as it is rather difficult to find a suitable match for "window."
(Coincidentally, Snoop Dogg was in attendance at the very same swag party where I picked up these tighty whiteys. Calvin, what is up, my brother?)
I attempted to make a point in this video, but it wound up on the cutting room floor. (I felt my screen time was better spent making an ass of myself.) The point was that an artist should be able to vary the tone and content and style of their work without their audience reacting like they just found a pubic hair in their soup. Some people hear a funny song and think, "Oh, they're a joke band," or they hear a sad song and think, "Geez, these guys are depressing." They feel the need to categorize your work instantly in order to understand it. Once they've made up their mind and put you in a category, you can't stray from that, or they will get confused.
I don't really know who is to blame for this. It could be the shady business folk, who insist on dumbing things down for the public. Or it could be that the public really is that dumb. It could be the artists who refuse to take chances for fear of alienating their fans, or the ones who took those chances and did, because they sucked at it.
(By taking chances, I'm not talking about a punk band playing a few songs unplugged or a metal band adding a string section at a live show. That is not taking a chance. In fact I find it to be an obnoxious act of self-importance. "Look at us, art form of music, we care enough about you to dabble a little bit in some of your more adult ways. Sure, we're mainly just hoping to re-invent ourselves to milk a few more years out of the limelight with a new audience, but give us credit for the vast musical strides we are taking!")
Perhaps I'm over-analyzing and overreacting a bit. I realize that some artists keep their work within certain confines, and I don't fault them for that. Some of my favorite bands, Rocket From the Crypt and Archers of Loaf for example, never strayed too far from the styles they created for themselves. I don't believe that you have to, just as long as the work stays honest and original.
I'm also not trying to imply that I'm better than anyone else just because I'm willing to throw a song about underwear next to a love song or an indictment of suburban New Jersey. I'm just saying that I write songs that reflect different aspects of my personality, whether they be happy or sad, silly or frightening, weird or inappropriate...and so when you listen to my music with your soup there, take a closer look...it's most likely your own goddamn pubic hair.