Monday, April 16, 2007

The Time Will Come When You Add Up the Numbers

A while back, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to interview Bob Pollard, the genius behind Guided by Voices, who told me that he wrote the brilliant "Motor Away," from the album Alien Lanes, after hearing how much money Bob Seger had made from selling "Like a Rock" to Chevy trucks. I suppose I should say something here about artistic integrity, blah blah blah, Neil Young ain't singing for Pepsi, but you know what? Bob Pollard isn't exactly rich, I'm guessing, and the sad fact is that the intersection of artistic achievement and monetary reward isn't all that substantial. I wish Bob would find a way to make more money from his music, because he deserves it, and because Budweiser isn't getting any cheaper.

I remember that famous story about the Rolling Stones going to visit Chess Studios in Chicago and discovering Muddy Waters painting the ceiling, because somebody had to do it and Chess Records wasn't rolling the dough at that point. I hope Muddy found a better way to turn a few bucks before his career was over, whether that was singing for Pepsi, singing for Coke, or doing private parties for David Geffen. B.B. King has been doing a lot of ads the past few years, and good for him. He's got it coming to him. Bob Odenkirk's great too, and doing TV ads might seem like a comedown after the brilliance of "Manson," but who's going to begrudge him those beer commercials? Those residuals from the Mr. Show DVD aren't as lucrative as you might think.

And even if Pollard wrote it with a car company in mind, "Motor Away" is freaking awesome, sounding like a fully loaded Cadillac going down the highway at 85 mph, just reaching the point when the engine starts to shudder and bang against the inside of the hood. If this song had actually shown up over and over and over again in a Lincoln-Mercury commercial, everyone's life would be better.

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