Friday, April 2, 2010

Sgt. Cyrus' Achy Breaky Lonely Hearts Club - Disbanded




One has to wonder about one hit wonders. As a waller, the idea of not being able to consistently repeat what you do successfully and to the same high standard as you achieved on previous walls is unacceptable. Not just the walls themselves, but each stone has to be skillfully fitted and placed with the full knowledge that you will be needing to place each consecutive stone next to or on top of the one beside it, over and over again, correctly and efficiently. You are always planning ahead. It would be wrong to describe any aspect of it as being a one shot deal. The entire process is about continuity.

The idea of people getting together to build a really cool dry stone wall is not that different from what's involved in being in a rock group. A wall, like a song, is both the final product and process. It is an event which a number of people can choose to be involved in ( making it and/or being present when it is created ) and then afterward it 'exists' in its completed form, for people to repeatedly appreciate after the fact. What makes a song a hit or a success should have a lot to do with talent and artistic content. A wall is no different. It may not be judged or appreciated on the massive scale that a rock tune might be, but there is just as much need for it to be good and be able to stand the test of time. And you should be able to do it again.

When a performer or a waller can not be consistent in their quality or their output, it may be convenient for them to say that it's just part of the ups and downs of the 'rock' industry. Maybe their agents didn't 'handle' them right. Maybe their apparent success happened too soon and they were expected to produce new 'rock compositions' too fast. Maybe they tried to force or 'concrete' the elements of their style rather than let their structure develop and fit in with the musical landscape around them. Maybe they were looking to be making more and more 'hits' when they should have let the love of rock lead them to see where they naturally fit in.

Today's one hit wonder is 'Achy Breaky Heart'. It was a 'smash' hit. It got people excited, and it was fun to think it was building up to something, but it was a bust. Nothing really came of it, or rather 'after' it. Billy Ray Cirus must have 'hit a wall', so to speak. Sure, he had a few creative spurts before and afterwards but ultimately he seemed to have put himself between a rock and a hard place. I saw him perform this song at a concert a long time ago with what seemed like a million other people. It took place at the Sky Dome in Toronto which was never really a successful music venue to begin with. The acoustics were terrible, and I remember the giant roof started to roll back as he tried very hard to keep going and give it his best. Many of us were 'waiting' for him to perform this his number one country rock piece. He served it up (for all us waiters ) on a tray. But the crowd called out for more, as the ceiling flew away.... No no, wait a minute, that's a whole different 'one hit wonder' !

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