My son had just been born. I don’t know why but I was reading Legs McNeil’s “Please Kill Me,” a book about some of my favorite rock stars getting their start, looking and sounding great, and behaving badly in the process. It’s super entertaining.
But now I’m a Dad. If I wasn’t a man before, I definitely am now. An 8 lb ball of human vulnerability changes your perspective quick. It grows you up—immediately.
Reading McNeil’s book, I couldn’t help but think about Lou Reed’s parents—or even more jarring, the parents of the Stooges’ girlfriends. Jesus. Tough gig.
And speaking of gigs, I was burnt out on the advertising industry—this after burning out on the music industry.
Professionally and creatively frustrated, I asked two of the people who knew me best, a simple question; if they could hire me to do one job, what would it be?
My wife answered that she would hire me to tell stories.
My friend Adam, a Grammy-winning producer said, “I’d pay you to sit in a vocal booth and just talk into a mic—you’ve talked me into some of the craziest shit.”
I’m a bullshitter. I get it. I come from a long line of bullshitters. I don’t mean like literal liars… I mean, like sitting around the table or the bar with drinks, playing cards and telling stories. Both of my larger-than-life grandfathers seemed to make sport out of storytelling. And with a musician father and bar manager stepfather, I was practically raised on a barstool, listening to older, kinda scary, definitely drunk dudes bullshit.
And ever since I could remember, I read voraciously—Rolling Stone magazine and music anthologies, rock bios and true crime novels; In Cold Blood, Helter Skelter, historical fiction and anything and everything by James Ellroy.
As a songwriter myself, well, that was just me telling stories too (but with considerably more bullshit).
How does a middle aged, musician-Dad tell stories in the 21st Century? Podcasts. But what stories? That’s where Legs McNeil came back to me.
The real life rock stars in Legs’ book were behaving badly but I couldn’t help but think of all the other stories I’d read and heard about; Jerry Lee Lewis getting away with murdering his wife, James Brown’s PCP-crazed car chase, the Norwegian Black Metal Murders, Tupac… Biggie… Sid… Nancy… Mick and Ronnie sleeping with the first lady!
I had my idea; a rock and roll true crime storytelling podcast. I love these musicians. I grew up worshiping them, but as a new Dad, it suddenly became crystal clear; I wouldn’t leave any of these creeps alone with my kid. Shit. How do I reconcile that?
By talking about it that’s how. Tell the stories. Bullshit (the verb not the noun). Make it entertaining—because it is!
Real rock stars are more like feral narcissistic animals than functioning members of society. That’s what makes them so damn entertaining.
So that’s why. It’s called Disgraceland. Hope you dig it.