Laura Yuskavage, Big Little Laura, 1997-1998
* Petra Haden on re-recording The Who Sell Out. [via] excerpt:
"Haden usually relies on instinct, guile, and love for her muse. But this time, it was Mike Watt. About six years ago, the bassist-about-town began regaling his pal with tales of one of his favorite bands, the Who. 'I heard them on the radio, and I could take it or leave it,' Haden says. 'But he was talking about it so much, and he said, ‘Petra, I think you would really like The Who Sell Out, because of the harmonies. The music is really good, and I think you would do a great version of it a cappella. And I thought, okay, since he asked me to do it, I’ll do it for him.'
"The Who Fucking Sell Out. Petra Haden decides to re-imagine the British band’s legendary 1967 concept album as a lark, as a favor to a friend. Armed with only her voice.
"Beginning in 1999, she painstakingly re-created the tunes over the course of several years, layering vocals for each track – bass, drums, guitar, voice. The most difficult instrument to replicate? 'The drums,' she says. 'I admit I suck. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, so it was the last thing I did. The easiest part was the bass and then the lyrics, and the guitar was the funnest; I just had fun with it. The trumpet’s always fun. Mike Watt, I think his favorite part about the Who is Keith Moon, and so when it came to doing the drums, [I thought] oh, I’m going to let him down. I’m not a drummer. My rhythm is off.'
"When Haden finished cutting Sell Out’s 13 tracks, Watt suggested that she actually release it as a record – something she hadn’t even considered doing. 'I thought, well, the sound is horrible; you can hear me pressing ‘rewind’ a thousand times; I sing the lyrics wrong. We cleaned it up a lot, but you can still tell it’s from a Maxell crummy tape. No one will care. The point is that I did it, and I’m singing it, and it’s fine for me. And if no one else likes it, then they can piss off.'
"But once she decided to put it out, there was no corner-cutting. She even replicated the Who’s original cover, including the infamous shot of lead singer Roger Daltrey in a bathtub of baked beans. 'They kept having to spoon it over me,' Haden recalls. 'They were smearing it on my face. But it wasn’t disgusting. The beans felt like cold mud. Except it smelled bad.'
"But Haden’s take on the Who has had enormous reach, even landing on the doorstep of the source: Who guitarist Pete Townshend has publicly stated that he loves the record, though Daltrey is reportedly less complimentary."
"To those who resent the whims and dictates of their masters, all of this flying-about offers a gleam of macabre hope. Craig Nettles, former 3rd baseman for the NY Yankees, once wiseguyed there was an upside to Yankee owner George Steinbrenner's peripatetic meddling.
"'The more we lose, the more Steinbrenner will fly in. And the more he flies, the better the chance there will be a plane crash.'
"There were a lot of dark wits during those Steinbrenner-Reggie Jackson-Billy Martin years. None today, I note, which makes the current Yankees less equipped to indulge in gallows humor.
"According to Lisa Olson in the NY Daily News, Steinbrenner's PR guy let it be know that The Boss issued his latest edict on the Yankees' drag-butt season while pumping iron, an almost transparently poignant bit of off-stage theater intended to project 'strength' from a 75-year-old year old man whose most recent TV interview--on the YES network--revealed the once fearsome Steinbrenner a wan, spent force.
"Steinbrenner and Bush are beginning to remind me of each other. Bush still looks confident and walks toward the camera with gunslinger virility but his constant reiterations of 'strength' and 'resolve' have a hollow echo. Tonight he's going to surround himself with members of The Finest Military the World Has Seen as he delivers an address everyone is saying is intended to 'rally support' for standing firm in Iraq. I really think he would have been better off making a briefer, more sombre and straighforward speech from the Oval Office where he leveled with the American people, but he needs constant pumping up these days, even if it's the artificial pumping of doing a dumbo Social Security event with Ben Stein of all people."
* "I believe that the community is already in process of dissolution where each man begins to eye his neighbor as a possible enemy, where non-conformity with
the accepted creed, political as well as religious, is a mark of disaffection; where denunciation, without specification or backing, takes the place of evidence, where orthodoxy chokes freedom of dissent; where faith in the eventual supremacy of reason has become so timid that we dare not enter our convictions in the open lists, to
win or lose." -- Judge Learned Hand, 1872-1961