Friday, March 30, 2012

Iggy Pop -- "Baby" (1977)

We're walking down the street of chance
Where the chance is always slim or none

T. S. Eliot's 1925 poem, "The Hollow Men," famously concludes with these lines:

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper 

T. S. Eliot
Delete "world" and substitute "2 or 3 lines series" and these lines ring just as true.  Once again, a series of related 2 or 3 lines posts -- this particular series features records that I bought and listened to during my law school years (1974-1977) -- is ending with a whimper.

We had such high hopes when this series began almost a year ago with Roxy Music's "The Thrill Of It All."  (It goes without saying that we were so much younger then -- but we're older than that now.)

There were some highlights -- the Sparks, 10cc, City Boy, and, of course, Roxy Music.  But as usual, I front-loaded the series.  I trotted out my favorites at the beginning -- after that, the whole thing succumbed to a slow, inexorable decline, as I gradually lost interest in this series and began to plan new series in my head.

Now that I've admitted that the "Law School Years" series has lost its way, let's hustle the old boy off as quickly as possible -- we'll pull the plug and make room for a new series.

I didn't buy Iggy Pop's 1977 Idiot LP.  I didn't steal it either -- well, not exactly.

I became a member of the staff of the Harvard Law Record, the law school's biweekly newspaper, as a second-year student and held various editorial positions in my penultimate (yes, it has been a long time since we've used our favorite word) and ultimate law school years.  

I got a new editorial title each semester -- features editor, executive editor, senior editor, and one I've forgotten.  None of them really meant anything -- my role at the Record was pretty much always the same.  Basically, I was kept far away from anything that smacked of serious journalism, spending most of my time on restaurant reviews and articles for the annual "April Fool's" issue.  

Oh, yes -- I always volunteered to go out and get the pizzas and beer that sustained us every other Wednesday night, when we edited and laid out the upcoming issue.  That way, I could make sure that we had the kind of pizza and beer that I liked.

A couple of months before graduation, it finally hit me that I could get a lot of free stuff by calling up publishers, record companies, and movie theaters and telling them I was the Record's book, music, or movie reviewer.  That was true, in a way, although I don't recall ever seeing a book, music, or movie review in the paper.

Most of the free books I got were boring, law-related tomes.  I did go to one free movie screening -- The Late Show, a well-reviewed (but not by me) comedy/mystery starring Art Carney and Lily Tomlin, which was nominated for the Academy Award for best original screenplay in 1977.  

(By the way, the screenwriter and director of The Late Show was Robert Benton, who had co-written the screenplay for Bonnie and Clyde.  Two years later, Benton wrote the screenplay for Kramer vs. Kramer, which he also directed.  That movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and Benton won the Oscars for Best Director and Best Screenplay.)

I still have the one free review LP I managed to snag -- Iggy Pop's The Idiot.  Today, Iggy has a place in my pantheon of music gods, but I didn't know much about him in 1977.  

Iggy Pop (born James Newell Osterberg, Jr.) was a native of Muskegeon, Michigan whose extreme on-stage behavior -- he rolled around in broken glass, exposed himself, and invented stage diving -- was inspired by Jim Morrison of the Doors, whom he saw perform at the University of Michigan in 1967.

Iggy stage-dives
The story goes that Iggy called Moe Howard to ask permission to call his nascent band "The Stooges."  Moe supposedly said he didn't care as long as he didn't call the band "The Three Stooges."

The Stooges released a couple of interesting albums that didn't sell very well, then broke up -- but got back together and issued Raw Power in 1973.  Its first track was "Search and Destroy," which is still an awe-inspiring song.

"Search and Destroy" has already been covered by 2 or 3 lines, but I can't resist posting the famous Nike commercial that featured it:

Iggy had a nasty little heroin addiction at this time, which contributed to the Stooges breaking up again in 1974.  He checked himself into a UCLA hospital in hopes of getting clean.  David Bowie, who had produced Raw Power, visited him regularly.  He  usually brought along some cocaine to share with his friend.  

Iggy and David later relocated to Berlin.  Bowie help write and produce the two albums (The Idiot and Lust for Life) that Iggy released in 1977, and the two performers wrote some songs together (including "China Girl").

Iggy has kept busy in the ensuing years.  He's recorded a number of albums, written an autobiography, and appeared in a number of movies and TV shows -- including the great Nickelodeon show, The Adventures of Pete and PetePete and Pete had some other very odd guest stars, including Adam West, Steve Buscemi, Frank Gifford, Deborah Harry, Patty Hearst -- yes, that Patty Hearst -- LL Cool J, and Michael Stipe.

Here's one of Iggy's Pete and Pete appearances:

I don't think The Idiot is one of Iggy's best albums, but the price was right.  

Before we listen to "Baby," here are a few lines from the song "Funtime," which is also on The Idiot:

Hey baby, we like your lips
Hey baby, we like your pants
All aboard for funtime!

I was sorely tempted to feature "Funtime" because of these very lyrics, but the song is a bit of a downer -- not that "Baby" is what you'd call upbeat.

Here's a bonus video -- Iggy and David Bowie performing "Funtime" live on . . . the Dinah Shore Show?  That's right, boys and girls -- hard as it may be to believe.  If you don't like the song, jump ahead to the 2:56 mark and watch Dinah's interview of these two seriously weird guys.

Here's "Baby":

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

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