Saturday, April 27, 2013

Listening Post: In Memoriam Edition

When a 22-year-old Divinyls record showed up in the section of iTunes normally reserved for new releases earlier this week, my first thought was that somebody in the band must've died. Unfortunately, I was so busy that I didn't bother to go looking for any possible information on it. Then, yesterday, my girlfriend and I were out and I heard I Touch Myself being played in a bar in Hollywood, so I turned and asked, "What, did Chrissy Amphlett die or something?" to which my girlfriend of course responded, "Yeah, breast cancer."

I never liked the Divinyls' biggest hit. I thought it was silly and gimmicky and was sure to diminish all the other great stuff the band had done simply by virtue of making them an inevitable one-hit-wonder. The Divinyls had a long career before I Touch Myself broke them big and most of it was due to the coolness and sexiness of Chrissy Amphlett and her distinctive rasp. To this day, the band's 1988 gem Temperamental is a record I go back to over and over again because almost every song on it is spectacular.

From that album, here's Punxsie.

In high school, my best friend and I had an unusual hero for a couple of idiot kids from Miami: George Jones. Why? Because of the lawnmower story. It was the stuff of country legend and still is. For those who don't know it, it goes like this: George drank -- a lot. And so one night back in 1966, he had gotten so drunk that his wife decided she needed to force him to finally sober up. She cleaned out all the liquor in the house and took the keys to the car so that he couldn't drive to the nearest liquor store, which was about eight miles away. But since any good drunk knows that its when you take his booze away that he suddenly becomes as resourceful as MacGuyver, George went outside, hopped on his riding lawnmower and rode it all the way to that liquor store. And that, my friends, is why he was a hero to me and still is.

George Jones died yesterday at the ripe old age of 81. In 1996, long after my high school days, he wrote a song about the lawnmower story, but this one about drinking is even better. Here's If Drinking Don't Kill Me.

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