Jammed Loyalty

I was having dinner with my good mate Garth on Tuesday night and I told him I was going to see Pearl Jam when they tour in November.  Garth laughed. 

“Have you heard the new album?” He asked.

“Yeah, I reckon it’s pretty good.”

Garth just looked at me.  It’s the same look that you get from people when you say you find Gwyneth Paltrow to be a pretty good actor. 

“Really?  I don’t know, it was just…” but he never finished the sentence. Garth realised that if he didn’t like it and I did there was no point in trying to win the other over to their way of thinking. 

I like that about Garth.  A lot of people will try to tell you that your taste is wrong when you disagree with them.  Those people are really annoying.  Those people should just fuck off.  And sometimes I’m that person.  Many times I have found myself late at night in some shithouse bar with a dirty drink in hand demanding that if you don’t like A:  All five seasons of Lost B:  The Dark Knight or C:  David Bowie’s album Outside then you must be a complete douche bag.  The only thing this really achieves is confirmation that at times I can be a complete douche bag.

Later that night I started listening to the album to confirm that I did in fact like the new album and wasn’t kidding myself.  Sure, it doesn’t have the anger and ferocity of “Ten” or “Vs” but that is somewhat unfair because these are very different guys.  They’re not young dudes with something to prove, they’re older gentlemen, fathers with families who have achieved the types of success the majority of us can only dream about.  It would be quite sad to hear Eddie Vedder still writing songs like “Black”, a song about lost love and the pain that comes with it, when I know he now has a hot wife and two gorgeous children.  So of course the album cannot be compared to those heady days when we were all young and lost and angry.  This is a grown up album by a grown up band.  But that still doesn’t answer the question of whether it is good.

The thing is I’m a loyal consumer.  If a band or writer or artist does right by me I will return the favour.  David Bowie could put out an album that consists of nothing but him scratching his nails down a blackboard and I would probably still attempt to dance to it.  Grant Morrison can write a sprawling epic tale like Final Crisis that really doesn’t hold together as a coherent narrative and I will blindly abuse people on message boards for not understanding this grandiose piece of fiction.  Heck, even a sportsman like Dwyane Wade will spell his name exactly the way I have written it and I will stand by him for having an original spelling because he has given me so much happiness with his shake and bake on the basketball court.  I will always do my best to stick with those people who have inspired me, entertained me and created a more thoughtful me.

I’m not totally blind though.  I have lost faith with many long-term heroes but to even write about it pains me.  I can’t bear to see the latest Al Pacino movies.  His latest performances are so bad even actors from Home and Away are looking and thinking, “Calm down”.  I saw Eddie Izzard live a few years ago and on opening night he took notes out on stage because he wasn’t certain of what came next.  Hey Eddie, I didn’t pay over $60 to see you work on some ideas, give me a fucking show ya cross-dressing hack.  The latter writings of Alan Moore have me yelling at the page for him to stop being so goddamn clever and tell an interesting story I can understand on some level.  

But for the most part I am loyal and with that in mind I listened to the album, in the dark, late at night.  Is it as good as their earlier work?  No.  Does it have some catchy hooks and interesting lyrics?  That it did.  From the taunt “Got Some” to the building intensity of “Unthought Known” to the lyrically haunting “The End” I could put aside my ipod and roll over content with the knowledge that I was not being a fan for fan’s sake.  That while I was being loyal I was still being discerning.

So now I am looking forward to the concerts and can’t wait to hear the new tracks live.  I just might not bother boring Garth with these tales.  Unless I’m piss roaring drunk at some shitty bar and then I will probably do my best to win him over.  And prove yet again how much of a douche bag I can really be.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

October 2nd, 2009