The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'wesley willis'


For one week only, Pitchfork TV is streaming Wesley Willis's Joy Rides, a documentary about the late outsider musician.

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Idea: for their Windows 7 marketing campaign, Microsoft should reanimate Wesley Willis and have him say that it "whups the snow leopard's ass".

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The Graun's Alexis Petridis looks at why the (ostensibly) mentally disturbed make such compelling rock stars:

According to Oliver James, a clinical psychologist and author of They Fuck You Up: How to Survive Family Life, the rise in numbers and popularity of emo acts may be linked to a rise in mental illness among their obvious target market of 18- to 24-year-olds (the age group most likely to be affected by psychological problems, according to studies published in Europe and Australia).
But if fans buy into it, that may be because rock music, unlike other art forms, is depicted as benefiting from being created by those with mental illness. Most critics would tell you Van Gogh's paintings are great despite, rather than because of, his psychiatric problems - but that's not true of the Beach Boys' Smile or Barrett's The Madcap Laughs or Nirvana's In Utero, for example, whose greatness is widely held to be inexorably entwined with their creators' mental problems.

It's the whole dionysiac genius thing; the myth, deeply ingrained in the Rockist mindset, that primal authenticity and true brilliance comes not from carefully honed technique, deep knowledge of the genre, cleverness or anything so square and totally un-rock-and-roll, but from abandoning oneself to the frenzy like a Viking berzerker. To give a topical example, crack-smoking, junk-shooting fuckup Pete Doherty is one of the greatest geniuses of our time, and his new band Babyshambles is ten times the band that The Libertines (who kicked him out) were, as the world would find out if he'd ever get his shit together for long enough to actually play a gig.

The article also mentions Ol' Dirty Bastard, as an example of the fine line between empathy and voyeurism. One notable omission, though, is Wesley Willis, described by Jello Biafra as one of the most punk-rock artists ever.

Of course, with the rising popularity of emo and various forms of fuckedupcore came a lot of opportunists putting on the "tortured genius" act, acting like caricatures of pissed-off, fucked-up, tantrum-throwing teenage nihilists and raking in the cash. Thirtysomething Universal Music executive and part-time teenage mook Fred Durst is one name that's mentioned there; and I'm sure you can think of other notable examples (anyone remember Vanilla Ice's reinvention as a tortured, angry-white-guy rap-metal mook? Or cyberpunk boy-band Information Society's post-Reznorian take-a-walk-through-my-nightmares industriogothic makeover?)

(On a tangent: Wikipedia's lists of songs about bipolar disorder and suicide)

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Someone has put together a Wesley Willis tribute album. Titled, Loved Like A Milkshake, it consists of downloadable MP3s of covers of classic Willis songs, including "Rock N Roll McDonalds", "Cut The Mullet" and "The Chicken Cow", by a number of artists, none of whom I've heard of (though the first one has bagpipes). I haven't downloaded any of them yet, so I can't tell you whether or not they whip the racehorse's ass. (via MeFi)

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An underground comic: Wesley Willis Kicks Leukemia's Ass (1, 2, 3)

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It's ironic that this should happen two days after Wesley Willis passed away: Thames Valley police launch manhunt for Batman, after the superhero (or an impostor) beat another man unconscious outside a cafe.

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Rock and roll artist Wesley Willis dead at 40; deprived of his everlasting life by an unknown cause, possibly related to chronic leukemia. Which is all rather sad; he'll be fondly remembered.

Perhaps we should see a coalition of artists of all stripes (from punk rockers to laptop glitchmeisters to post-post-ironic hipsters of various sorts) to get together and do a Wesley Willis tribute album to raise funds for some suitable charity (leukemia research, or possibly some mental-health charity)?

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Apparently SBS is airing a documentary on Wesley Willis tomorrow (Saturday) evening, at 10pm. I probably won't catch it as I'm DJing that night (and my TV reception is quite poor). (ta, Cos)

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Rock over London, rock on Chicago: I just had a bus ride almost worthy of a Wesley Willis song. For one, the bus arrived 10 minutes late, and was unusually crowded. Then, a block into the ride, the driver turned into the wrong side street, realising his mistake when faced with a ONE WAY sign on the much narrower side street than it should be. He manouvred the bus out of the street, but not without grinding it against a sign. After that, the bus (which was considerably late) kept stopping at pretty much every stop to let people on or off, and finally took another wrong turn, missing the stop I usually get off at by a block.

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