"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> PAUL K
The Anthology On CoraZong Records
by Anguish Young
When Was The Last Time Johnny Rotten...or Dave Pirner...or Paul Westerberg...Wrote A Really Great Song?
"The election of Barack Obama was yet another triumph of propaganda over substance and a skillful manipulation and betrayal of the public by the mass media. We mistook style and ethnicity – an advertising tactic pioneered by the United Colors of Benetton and Calvin Klein – for progressive politics and genuine change. We confused how we were made to feel with knowledge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake a brand for an experience. Obama, now a global celebrity, is a brand. He had almost no experience besides two years in the senate, lacked any moral core, and was sold as all things, to all people. The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008, and edged out runners-up, Apple, and Zappos.com. Take it from the professionals. Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream. President Obama does one thing, and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertisers want, because of how they can make you feel."
(-Chris Hedges)
"To the wrongs that need resistance, To the right that needs assistance, To the future in the distance, Give yourselves."
(-Carrie Chapman Catt)
"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and to never stop fighting..."
(-e. e. cummings)
"In reality, we are never outside observers. We are inside the wound, together..."
(-James O'Dea, former head of Amnesty International)
"Every society needs a way to deal with sociopaths. Unfortunately, under capitalism, sociopaths are promoted to CEO."
(-Derrick Jensen)
"Money doesn't talk, it swears..."
Paul K.'s a real rollin' stone. He's BAD like Joe Strummer. An outlaw. Like Jim Carroll. An angry young man, getting on, in years...Picture if you will, an unreconstructed, Anthony Bourdain, starving, in the gutter. I can think of no one other person who can play guitar like Tom Verlaine, AND pen lyrics as descriptive and pained as Townes Van Zandt. He's often compared to any random genius, but there's only one PAUL K.! While most of his contemporaries have gone sour in the lime-light, squandering money, on cocaine, property, and status-hungry, surgically-enhanced wives, K. continues to produce memorable new songs at an alarming pace. Most of the bigger names have been reduced to mere marketing brands, hollow shells of whom they once were, showbiz entertainers, contracting the creative duties out to a staff of producers, designers, and formulaic song-doctors, like any run of the mill, corporate regime. Iggy Pop sells insurance, Lydon sells us butter, Billy Idol raps for Ikea. Axl Rose has more in common with pro-wrestlers, nowadays, or Miley Cyrus, or Donkey Kong, than he does with David Johansen, or Marc Bolan. Meanwhile, Paul K. is a genuine outlaw singer, like the one the Dude from the Big Lebowski plays in that big movie. A guerilla street artist. For the people, by the people. A Bushmaster M4 in the hands of a Blackwater mercenary? That's like a beat-up acoustic in the hands of Paul K., a beat poet, an insurrectionist. His songs will likely, outlive us all.

His dissident poetry and contagious melodies will haunt you 'til you're gone. Whatever you might pay for this PAUL K. anthology, it's worth it, if only for the live version of, "Radiant And White", one of the most romantic songs I've ever heard, an extravagant declaration of abiding love and devotion. "I could never, in forgetfulness, be moved to a place unreachable by you...", or "Roses For The Rich", another soulful valentine, featuring a sensual violin solo, a gorgeous back-up singer, and lyrics as beautiful as anything Nick Cave, Shane MacGowan, or Leonard Cohen ever penned. These are immensely romantic songs. "Mulletville" is a tune about a certain place we've all visited, whether it was back in our New Romantic eighties teenage daze, when we read the quote about how Keith Richards got his cool glam shag by whacking off bits randomly, when we were still experimenting with red hair dye and mascara; or perhaps, even later on, in life, if one were still inclined to ask a midwestern stylist for the classic shag, but instead of looking like the FACES, we forlornly, left that barber chair looking more like a bull-dyke, or Billy Ray Cyrus, with the hillbilly demon-butcher still expecting a tip...."Cold Summer Night" is another potential radio hit, reminiscent of Seger, or Springsteen's best radio standards. I used to have a different version of this song, without the stellar harmonica, but this version just SLAYS me. It's miles past any Mellencamp song I can think of, right this second. It's about family, friends, drinking on the sun-deck, shooting bottle rockets out of old glass Pepsi bottles. Sparklers, laughs, fire-flies, spending time together. Other tunes remind me of Paul Simon, Pete Seeger, Nick Drake, and Roger Waters...I've heard tale of listeners taking the song, "Nashville Tennessee", a bit too literally, presuming the composer actually killed a man in Reno, just to watch him die..."We Are Yours" is an absolutely killer, eighties punk rock youth-anthem, like something by the Alarm, or Killing Joke, or New Model Army. The kindof song I used to try and write. "When You Read This I'll Be Gone" gives me chills. It's perfect, really. I've been there. Aside from "Hark The Harold Angels Sing", given the Flowers Of Romance/Proto-Banshees treatment, there is nary a duff track on either disc, and PAUL K.'s B-material is better than most contemporary artist's proudest works. My theory about how Paul K. remains so vital, perceptive, and astute, whereas, so, so many of his former peers have become so obviously, embarrassingly, limp, lame, useless, cliche', achingly insincere...is that, it's cos, he still has empathy, he's still "one of us", whereas, the Westerberg's, and Coyne's, and Olsen's, and Reed's of the world have become almost entirely, conspicuously, disconnected from their fans, coddled and cloistered, in their privileged celebrity bubbles, busy buying shit, suing people, lording over their land, primping for photo-shoots, endorsing products, and having their egos stroked. Even middle of the pops songwriters, like say, James McMurtry, Chuck Prophet, or Jeff Tweety, hardly ever seem to encounter real folks, aside from their upper-class, ticket buying, public radio-listening audiences, the desk clerks at the hotel, and the limo-liberals there to meet and greet them at the venues, or interview them at the radio station. All university-sculpted, S.U.V. driving, elitists! These dudes need to mix it up with the streets. Say hi to the vets, and homeless, the poor, the street urchins, the authentic, blue collar people from which they came...Paul K. got over that whole false superiority conditioning that college provides middle-classers with, probably in jail, or on the side of the road, somewhere, years ago. He doesn't patronize his poor friends with condescending bullshit, like, "YOU should go to college..." Paul K. just isn't a greedy prick, like the ceaselessly vainglorious, and sickeningly over-rated, Ryan Adams' and Bono's of the world, who are now, so tedious to listen to: Da da da...The name of a street, a spacey loop, a conga drum, boring, half written, phoned-in, lazy bullshit. Break out the wash-board/jugband for this one. All jes to humor sassy actresses they wanna bone. Fakoff. Paul's always stayed true-only a small clique of outstanding songwriters-Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, David Olney, Guy Clarke...I'm already grasping...okay, Morrissey, and Tom Waits...still continue to produce important works, a quarter century into their careers. Did you hear Grinderman?

I suppose Kris Kristofferson's, "Sister Sinead", does have a certainly righteous charm, and a valid point to make. Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" is almost as amazing, in it's own way, as "Crazy"-let's see what he's doing in twenty more years...I like the Carbon/Silicon tune, "Culture War", but some of it sounds like Big Audio Dynamite throwaways, y'know? I never found a copy of Dramarama's latest disc...Patti Smith's last record was covers. Ya know wot I mean? Not much is happening at all...aside from overhyped, corporate bullshit. Self-proclaimed genius rich kids, and their fake garage bands, who all act like nobody's ever dyed their hair black, before. The Myspace Generation thinks Jack White's Iggy Pop...or at least, Robert Smith. Coldplay and Linkin Park and their horrible, wretched, insufferable imitations of U2...Gimmick hungry yobs digging gold from rock'n'roll. Don't even bore me with insipid disco reptiles like Brandon Flowers and Madonna wanna-be's. Paul K. has the real goods, the songs. Like Alex Chilton, or Van Morrison, before him. Recently, his exceptionally gifted piano player, Tom Henry, from Paul K. and the Prayers, passed away, at the age of 43. Our consolations and deepest sympathies to all his loved ones.

The word that would best describe this collection would be haunted. The song, "Stolen Gems" is really low-down, gut wrenching, back porch, confessional blues, not that big-band, rich white people blues, or smartass, ironic trust-fund shit, neither. Raw honesty, regret, truth about how one's high ideals get eroded in time, and we are forced to abandon our aspirations, against our will. "We were angry children, then, we were wild, and untamed..." This shit is deep, literally. Many of PK's songs not only deal with the confusion of life, and how frustrating it is, knowing fully, that one can never seem to measure up to our own principles, certainly not while satisfying the requirements of the brainwashed, bloodthirsty world around us, where money is all that matters, and everyone is lying. This cat has trudged through the rat-race, endeavoring to live with some measure of dignity and, grace, and compassion, but he keeps findin' himself thrust back out into the cold. The Drug Wars. The Disinformation Wars. The Terror Wars Of Perpetual Occupation. From Florida to NYC, he's always on the run.

Brother Paul's just tryin' to get him some peace.

His music's brilliant, invested with buckets and buckets full of self-awareness and moral dilemmas, and the compulsive desire to connect, to share, to communicate. All those poseur millionaires in NYC, and the ex-punks who've become businessmen, might recall who they wanted to be twenty five years ago, if they listened to this stuff. That's a big part of why his work is not promoted actively. People get uncomfortable with truth and soul, they've been programmed to discuss pointless television nonesense, and crave haute waspy materialism, with a droning, Midi-snare-beat. No one wants to think about what's really going on in the Gulf, or with those unnatural disasters that keep happening, or sham wars. Some of Paul's music hurts, because his courageous yearning, for truth, and justice is something we're not used to reckoning with in our escapist consumer culture. "Poor Man's Eyes" is just awesome. Phil Ochs, or Paul Robeson, or Woody Guthrie, or Mary Travers would all relate. "These eyes have seen a few things, that they won't show you in schools..." I urge you to acquire this retrospective, the next time you're out on an acquiring binge, whether it's on-line, or at the record shop.

This box-set, two disc, retrospective is a worthy introduction to Paul K. Thirty-seven shining diamonds. Hear it, immediately, if you wonder where all the real songwriters have gone.