Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Singer, Not the Industrial Solvent

Laser beams and invisible shields.

If I were an alien visiting from another planet (which, according to some of my friends, isn't that far from the truth), I'd think that "Exene" was an industrial solvent, maybe something that was added to the band X as part of an elaborate and messy industrial process whose end result was impassioned music.

That might not be entirely wrong.

My first exposure to seminal punk band X was when my friend Mason played me their 400-mile-per-hour cover of "Soul Kitchen" (originally by the Doors). I was hooked on the energy and on the bizarre back-and-forth vocals. And then there was Billy Zoom, whose unmoving stance on stage was a stark contrast to the machine-gun pace of the music. (And what's not to love about a punk band whose drummer is named "D.J. Bonebrake"?)

And the cool factor of two married co-lead-vocalists singing these songs as if their lives depended on it was matched only by the cool factor of two divorced co-lead-vocalists singing these songs as if our lives depended on it.

X on David Letterman in the 1980s:

Two weeks ago, Exene Cervenka, co-lead-singer of X, announced that she has Multiple Sclerosis.

Exene's bandmate and ex-husband John Doe told Spinner "She's great. There's a lot of people that live with this. We take care of our own. She realizes that this is another challenge. She's got a lot of support and it's all good. We'll take good care of Exene, don't worry."

Here's wishing her the best going forward.

The quote at the top of this post comes from "Leave Heaven Alone" -- from Exene's fantastic, quieter, and more introspective 1989 album Old Wive's Tales.

(And, just in case you're wondering: record company employees get healthcare benefits that are heavily subsidized by the company. Artists and musicians -- who provide the music that have benefited those record companies for decade after decade -- do not.)

1 comment:

Mark said...

I saw X a few weeks ago at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC. They were absolutely incredible. One of the best live shows I have ever seen. John and Exene's harmonies were amazing. Billy seemed to be having a blast. I've been listening to X for 20 years but this was the first time I'd seen them. I am so glad I made the trek from Westchester to the Lower East Side on a Sunday night. Two days later I got the announcement that Exene had MS.