Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Thinking Punk's Eric Carmen

This is the first time I realized I loved believing all your lies.

She dreamed only in shades of blue. Or so she said.

And her dreams were always of annhilation. Personal, political, and global.

"You'll bleed shades of deep purple," she'd say. "But don't worry, we all will."

And the blinding, snarling sounds of her nightmares would carry into the mornings and frequently into the afternoons. It was hard on her friends, but we didn't say anything because we imagined it was harder for her.


Stiv Bators grew up worshipping Iggy Pop, listening to classic garage rock, and dreaming about punk rock. When his band the Dead Boys imploded, he had to do something. It would be years before the goth-synth metal/new wave band Lords of the New Church, even longer before he'd date MTV VJ Martha Quinn, and long before he'd be killed by a speeding car in Paris.

It was time for a change.

So he turned away from punk (well, as far away from punk as he could turn) and back towards the music of his youth. Then he signed to L.A.'s Bomp! Records (home of 20/20) and announced that he wanted to be the "thinking punk's Eric Carmen." Punk meets power pop.

It didn't entirely work. The songs were uneven and the sessions were chaotic. Some of the songs were downright moronic. Stiv recorded vocals for one of the songs (which was filled with sophomoric sexual innuendo like "thanks for the mammaries") while he was getting a blow job. The resulting record, Disconnected, made almost no one happy, despite a handful of amazing songs.

How did Stiv's longtime fans react to his new musical direction? They saw it as nothing less than a sign of the impending apocalypse


She summoned us in a panicky voice at 3 in the morning. Said the world was about to end. So four of her friends gathered in her room to try to talk her out of dropping out of school.

She wouldn't listen, but talked in great detail about how she hadn't slept in over a week. She thought people were following her and insisted she could hear hidden messages in high-pitched sounds (that none of us could hear). Nuclear war was imminent.

"Maybe you just need to relax," someone said. "Things always look better after you get some sleep."

"That's what you said to me in my dream last night," she said. "Then you killed me."

We stopped for a minute, trying to figure out what to do.

Then someone said "you dreamed that last night?" She nodded. "But you said you haven't slept in over a week."

And then it unraveled. And she admitted she'd made up the whole thing. She'd been sleeping fine. She wasn't hearing high-pitched noises. She didn't really think anyone was following her.

And she didn't only dream in blue. In fact, she admitted, she rarely remembered her dreams at all.

So what was it all about? "I was lonely," she said.

"Why didn't you just tell us you were lonely and wanted to see us?"

And she stared at the wall. Smiled. And said "I didn't want to bother you guys."

The others wandered off. Grumbling. More disgusted than angry.

Two of the people who came over that night never spoke to her again. Too much trouble, they said. Looking back, they may have been right.

3 comments:

asiangrrl said...

Man, you got my hopes up because I guiltily love Eric Carmen. I have never heard of Stiv Bators, and I'm digging I Had Too Much to Dream (I would). I don't think he sounds much like Eric Carmen, but I still like him (Stiv). I also am fascinated by your story of the girl who told the lies. You have a powerful narrative voice.

Holly A Hughes said...

Well, I have to say I still prefer the Electric Prunes' version. But I loved your story. I had a friend in college who'd go off on similar lying jags -- weaving detailed stories about how she'd gone to Woodstock, for example, or the day she met John Lennon. Her stories were so good, we almost wanted them to be true.

thingy said...

"You have a powerful narrative voice."

You absolutely do.