Doors’ drummer John Densmore borrowed a great catch quote in his article about a permanent stance of his on greed (that of his bandmates), and continuously having to veto the use of The Doors’ songs for commercial pursuit gains in a past written article for The Nation.
John wrote: “Vaclav Havel had it right when he took over as president of Czechoslovakia, after the fall of Communism. He said, ‘We’re not going to rush into this too quickly, because I don’t know if there’s that much difference between KGB and IBM.'”
John Densmore (The Doors) – Article – Riders On the Storm
Is there really any difference between selling your music and selling your music? Wink, wink – right? Is it selling out, or rather, is it just about getting an artist’s music heard and having fun with a “product”?
I have to admit that I have mixed feelings myself when I hear a band I love’s music on the ‘ol boob tube or in a “spot” on the radio. The silliest being The Zombies’ ‘Time of the Season’ being used for Tampax (smirking aside) of all things, and the awe of new and old commercials by hipster-label companies using Pink Moon by Nick Drake (Volkswagen), or Revolution by The Beatles (for Nike, a Yoko OH-NO-YOU-DIDN’T production) and You’re Gonna Miss Me by The 13th Floor Elevators (for Dell). Someone’s already even put together a whole best-of compilation for the songs that have been used to sell certain products, I’m sure – making money off the money makers, so to speak.
Townsman Ismine was so good as to remind me, that while I was writing this – I had to at least make sure that I included The Who Sell Out – and how could I not? The album with its ideas squared firmly around early AM radio ads utilizing catchy music-filled jingles to sell a product. Commercialism in music at its youngest and maybe finest. As if they were daring you to: use our product to sell yours!
She ripped her glittering gown / Couldn’t face another show, no / Her deodorant had let her down / She should have used [insert your choice of deodorant here please – I prefer “Secret”, because it’s made for a man but… well, you know]…
However, what I’d really like to talk to you about today, is BEER. When Mr. Mod originally brought up the article for Motorcycles In Rock, I was already thinking of Beer In Rock. I didn’t know where it could go, and I’m still not even sure that it’s a worthy topic. But, well – here I am.
In the payouts for beer commercials with rock n’ roll flavor in the mid-to-late 80s, Eric Clapton and Phil Collins seem to be the biggest perpetrators in the Beer In Rock category in the shifting of units for their songs “After Midnight” and “Into the Air Tonight” – could this be an alleged Rock Crime? Maybe the songs themselves without the beer constitute the crimes. Then again, where would Crockett and Tubs be without Phil’s theme song – were they kickin’ back with Michelob’s too? But, selling your soul for a lousy beer ad? And not even a good beer or an import at that!
Do we really believe that Clapton was gonna kick back with some Michelob, after a tough night of guitar playing, either around (or after) midnight?! Everyone from Sinatra, to Winwood, to Daltrey did time for Anheuser-Busch. Daltrey’s ad even featured a pretty boy on guitar playing at the club (holstering alert!) and not actually Daltrey himself. Did anyone actually buy more Michelob beer because of this? He may as well be shopping me a Coors. But at least Billy Dee had the balls to do justice to the brainiacs behind the great-named (of-questionable-character Coors’ owned) Colt 45 with the catch-phrase “It works every time.” Sexist in its presentation, yes. But also – funny as hell.
“With a six-pack of that Colt 45, just like I should…” (Youngbloodz)
Then in 2004, there’s the Weezer vs. Miller Rolling Stone advertising snafu. Someone at Miller decides it would be great street cred to have a band on the face of their beer, a live band and a logo in the bottom corner. Simple, right? Of course they didn’t ask for permission. Who doesn’t like beer? Weezer’s beef apparently wasn’t necessarily the beer, but the other artists that they were being associated with who apparently didn’t drink Miller either (Jurassic 5, Unwritten Law, Incubus, Wyclef Jean, D12, Less Than Jake, Trapt, Velvet Revolver, Shinedown, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Tantric, Static-X, Puddle of Mudd and the Strokes).
According to the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Sept. 29, Miller used the band’s name without approval, and Weezer and members Rivers Cuomo, Brian Bell, Scott Shriner and Patrick Wilson claim the advertisements contained beer endorsements from other bands and musical artists that they “do not wish to be associated with in any advertisements.”
I’m just asking that they go back to simpler times, to times when a band actually wrote a theme song or a jingle for a commercial, times when a beer commercial might have actually stood for a bit of … well I don’t know, and not just the latest single or private party invitation to Blind Drunk Date at the Miller Fest.
And here’s the jingle that started it all:
“The beer that can slake any thirst, any thirst
The beer you reach for first
When you want to quench your thirrrrsssst