Sep 252020

My list starts with David Thomas of Pere Ubu. Anti-global health activist Van Morrison and Ray Davies would also give me pause, as much as I love their music.

To be honest, David looks like he’s in a great mood on this day.


  13 Responses to “Favorite Artists You’d Need to Think Twice About Hanging With”

  1. Paul Westerberg is far and away one of my favorite artists ever, and it sounds like there are times he can be a great companion…but at least as many, if not more, where it would be…extremely suboptimal, let’s say.

    Suzanne Vega is another of my all-time favorite artists, but she’s always struck me as at least a bit cold. Which isn’t a problem as long as she’s just an artist whose work I adore, but think it would be a bit of a bummer to hang with.

    Bill Bruford is by far my favorite drummer, but he definitely seems like you’d say something which he’d find insipid within minutes.

    On the flip side, I’m not really a fan of much Ron Wood’s ever done, musically. But by all accounts he’s one of the great guy in rock and roll.

  2. BigSteve

    Have I told this story before? In January 2005 I was stuck at Newark airport one afternoon because Boston was fogged in. I was talking a walk through the terminal, and I see David Thomas sitting all by himself in a deserted seating area. I knew immediately that it was him, but he was wrapped up in a huge overcoat and seemed to be scowling and giving off ‘don’t talk to me’ vibes. I kept going, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to go back and just say hello. I mean, it’s not like he gets recognized in airports all the time, right? Unfortunately by the time I got back there, the seats around him had filled up, and there was no way to introduce myself without a bunch of strangers observing and listening. Probably just as well. He’s formidable.

    No one gets to hang with Prince anymore, but even when he was alive he didn’t seem like a hangout kind of guy. PJ Harvey’s artistic persona is kind of scary, but I recently had a dream where we hung out, and she was very chill. Bob Dylan obviously seems like someone I’d think more than twice about hanging out with.

    Speaking of which a friend of mine just posted this story on Facebook:

    Legendary Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant encountered Bob Dylan for the first time at a party in Los Angeles.
    Dylan was talking with Paul McCartney when Grant butted in, “Hi, I’m Peter Grant and I manage Led Zeppelin”, he told Dylan with an outstretched hand. “I don’t bother you with my problems”, Dylan replied.

    I don’t know if it’s true, but it should be.

  3. For the most part, I have no desire to meet my heroes (Westerberg, Keith Richards, Ry Cooder, Bob Pollard). I think the issue is that I don’t want to meet them as a fan because I would feel like I’m just bugging them and they seem like they would have little time for that. If our kids wen’t to the same school and we met on the side line of a middle school soccer game or something, then it would feel less weird to me (although Black Thought from the Roots was at one of my kid’s little league and I never approached him. It still would have felt forced and weird).

    In the most recent issue of Rolling Stone, Jimmy Buffett talks about hanging out with Dylan all day (Dylan had famously once said that Buffet was one of his favorite songwriters). From the interview: Five years later, he went to see Dylan perform with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in Paris, and a mutual friend who worked security told Buffett that Dylan would be excited to see him backstage. “And I go backstage,” says Buffett, “and Dylan was sitting there. He had these gloves on. He’s got his hoodie on. I said, ‘Bob, how doin’?’” Dylan responded with just a grunted “eh.” “He never said a word,” says Buffett. “I sat there, ate my meal and said, ‘Well, have a good show. See you later.’ That was it. I haven’t seen him since!”

    Probably easier to make a list of people who seem like they’d be a good hang. The aforementioned Ronnie Wood, Cyril Jordan, maybe Cheryl Crow, Tony Bennet.

  4. cherguevara

    Yeah, I suspect I’d want to stay away from most of my musical heroes. A friend of mine worked on a fundraiser where Macca performed (at a seafood restaurant, they had to cover the sign so he wouldn’t be photographed entering an establishment that serves meat, even fish). Friend said it was so cool, Macca just wanted to hang out and there was just conversation. Later, maybe it was the carpool karaoke thing, I saw Macca say when he meets people his trick is to say he just wants to relax and hang, nobody needs to fawn over him. That seems pretty cool and apparently it works!

    Andy Partridge has shown himself to be a prickly one, not sure I’d want to hang. In general, and I always forget what I’ve posted here before, I find the “cult status” artists to be the weirdest. Nobody knows you except for one dude who is your biggest fan. That does weird things to people. When meeting anyone “famous,” the context/setting make all the difference.

  5. Happiness Stan

    After lots of autism/Asperger’s diagnoses in and around the family in the last few years I’ve grown reasonably adept at spotting signs. I’ve grown used to handling the quirks and the meltdowns, but by and large wherever possible have disengaged from actively attempting communication with folk who speak a different language.

    There was a study not long ago where a set of people on the spectrum and another of neurotypicals were placed alternately in a room and set playing Chinese whispers. Before the message passed within half a dozen people it was a mangled incomprehensible mess. The experiment was run with the two groups split out and in both cases the message went round the room intact.

    I love language and languages however and wherever they are spoken, but as a tested neurotypical English speaker without a word of Latvian in my vocabulary, I probably wouldn’t choose to sit down for an evening with an native exclusive speaker of that tongue whose profile suggested an overarching obsession with dungeons and dragons. I’m not judging them, but for both our sakes we might both be better to find someone more relatable or sit at home with a good book.

    Growing up, I was surrounded by family members on the spectrum, and couldn’t work out why I was drawn to people my mother considered strange, or why whenever I got in public transport, or sat down in a cafe, rather than someone who looked like Julie Christie smiling invitingly from nearby, nine times out of ten I’d be joined by some random stranger who looked like Tiny Tim, acted like an axe murderer and smelled more like the flower bed itself than the roses. Perhaps that’s where my sense of smell went, I doubt I’d recognise getting covid if that was the only symptom available.

    I’m inexorably drawn to music created by people whose life views I struggle to understand. I think I would have found an evening with Scott Walker challenging, I briefly knew a very famous, now dead, British singer songwriter’s step-daughter and that was an eye opener, along with the folk tales of his behaviour down his local which, for a short while, was also mine. Of the Beatles, Lennon was the one I found most fascinating, yet Macca, whose music sounds mainly to me like drying paint, is the one I can imagine saying hello to in the street.

    Adam Ant played at our local theatre last year and I was on shift as a volunteer, it was a brilliant show, but the security was so completely out of proportion even someone unaware of his difficulties couldn’t ignore it.

    It feels like playing safe, but I’d rather meet the heroes who are comfortable with meeting people who go to see them, like the wonderful Neil Innes, or Ian McCullough, Midge Ure, Julie Felix and a ton of others. Having said that, Tiny Tim was just about the loveliest, sweetest performer I ever met and the quarter of an hour we spent with him until the TV crew finally sent us away will stay with me forever. God bless you, Mr Tim.

  6. Mod, re: David Thomas, have you seen this? Oy vey.

  7. I did see that…in person. It was a disappointing show, especially since the Rocket from the Tombs show with Cheetah Chrome and Richard Lloyd a while back was terrific.

  8. I guess Mark E. Smith is someone else you would think about hanging out with, although that’s really the point, isn’t it?

  9. I would probably choose to hang with a musician who was a big basketball or football fan. That might lead to a more natural comfortable discussion where anyone can be both an expert and an amateur in their sports opinions. Likewise if I were to hang with one of my sports heroes, I’d probably want to talk about music with them. Any other approach would probably lead to a really awkward fanboy situation with lots of eye rolling.

  10. Happiness Stan

    Geo, I had many opportunities to bump into Mark E Smith. I probably saw the Fall something like thirty or forty times, and somehow managed to resist the temptation on every occasion. He rarely looked like he was in a good mood on stage, and Steve Handley’s book suggests this spilled over to all other occasions, especially when he had a drink inside him, which was always. It completely defeats me how Brix and the Handleys stuck it, I heartily recommend hanging around and saying hello if ever the Extricated come to town.

  11. Happiness: I did see one of his physical altercations with the band members at a show here in Philadelphia about 15 years ago. I guess you might be able to get on his good side if you jumped up there and helped him throttle the bass player…maybe not.

  12. Just realized the “Friend” of the Hall Richard Lloyd and David Thomas actually coexisted in a line up of RFTT long enough to do a tour and have Lloyd produce a studio album. How’d that work?

  13. cherguevara

    After Mark Hollis died there was a funny post made by a man who had met Hollis while on vacation in Italy. I’m not sure what I thought Mark Hollis did with his days, but from his music I guess I imagined him as doing intellectual things, maybe walking out in nature, writing music, making art. Turns out, he was really into his Ducati motorcycle. This couple met him on a motorcycle road tour of Italy, I guess they rode all day to a destination then had a fancy dinner. It was only on the last night of the trip that they discovered they were talking to a “celebrity.” If I met Mark Hollis, there is no way I would’ve guessed that motorcycles would be the subject to grab his attention. But then, I know nothing about sports or motorcycles, so I won’t ever do well at this game.

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