It's Iggy Pop's Birthday? Blah Blah Blah!

You know, it literally doesn't matter how old Iggy Pop is, the man is still alive and thriving and that's all that counts. Even as a kid, and only having the occasional rock magazine to inform me of Mr. Pop's latest exploits, I didn't think Iggy was long for this world.

And maybe for a time he wasn't, but Iggy is a survivor. If his career says anything at all, it is that Iggy is a tenacious, but kind survivor who has quickly adapted over the years to cope with and survive the world he injected himself into by choosing to sing into a microphone.

I mean, everything about him, for so long, said "HEY, LOOK AT ME!" and if that didn't work, he just rolled around in some broken glass.

The thing is, he shouldn't have had to do any of that to get our attention. The music should have been enough, but, for whatever reason, it wasn't. Ultimately, and to our detriment as a people, it took an ad campaign by a bleeping cruise ship line to hip us to Iggy Pop.

By "us", of course, I mean the majority of people who pose as Iggy fans on their social media today who know nothing of the man's struggles to be heard.

I count myself among these people because it took me until 1986 to give Iggy the respect that he deserved. I was in college and working at a record store. Since I didn't manage the store, I would spend a large part of my days listening to albums management either played or instructed us to play for our patrons. 

One such album was Iggy's Blah Blah Blah.

On the surface, it is a desperate last-ditch plea for commercial success by an artist no record label has ever known what to do with, yet seems to keep right on signing anyway. Elektra Records, RCA Records, Columbia Records, Arista Records, Bomp Records, Animal Records, and now A&M Records was taking a crack.

Seeing as how this was make-or-break time for Mr. Pop, he decided to bring in the big guns to produce the album. I'm talking Mr. David Bowie and his production partner David Richards (Queen).

With Iggy completely reliant upon Bowie to guide the way, musically, he began writing some of the best lyrics of his career. One such song was "Shades", which I just absolutely fell in love with whilst manning the cash register at Crazy Eddie's Back Alley Records.

Mind you, I wasn't at all crazy about the album's first single "Real While Child (Wild One)", though it has enjoyed a lengthy run and remains one of his most popular songs. "Shades" did lead me to spend some quality time with the album and, in doing so, gave me a greater respect for David Bowie.

I mean, this is 1986...three years after Let's Dance made him a household name all over again, but his follow-up effort Tonight had failed to match that success, so he was in a similar boat as Iggy when he took on the responsibility of making a hit record for his friend.

Bowie did have experience at this, though. He'd done just that for Lou Reed. Bowie didn't just make a hit record though, he made, by far, the best artistic statement of Reed's career to boot and actually got the man TO SING. Any album with "Perfect Day" and "Walk On The Wild Side" is a damn great album.

With Iggy, though, you had someone whose self-confidence had been shaken. The one great thing he had going for him at the time was his new wife, for whom he'd written songs like "Shades" and "Cry For Love".

Sadly, that marriage would end in divorce years later, but the sentiment Iggy expresses remains just as beautifully simple and universal.

We've all felt like shit at some point in our life and had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of someone who makes us feel important and valuable again. We even start to see ourselves as likable again and take a special joy in the little things that make those first sparks of love so exciting.
Ultimately what makes Blah Blah Blah so special is the innocent celebration of love that many of its songs celebrate and the doing away with the pointless "Isolation" that keeps us from truly living.

Even though Iggy has chosen to return time and time again to the hard-rock side, I thank Iggy for making an album so honest, vulnerable and, well, HAPPY.

Happy birthday Iggy!

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

No comments:

Post a Comment