mr. grant’s rant: revolution number nine

Covert and Sage had a hell of a conversation, full of revolutionary concepts such as creative independence, standing up for your principles and the nature of artistic compromise. We’re publishing the interview in its entirety. Read it, enjoy it and take hope from the fact that people like Greg Sage have the integrity to stand up for what they believe in spite of inconceivable pressures to do otherwise…”

 

 

number nine…number nine…number nine…

Number Nine. The phrase has held mysterious and revolutionary undertones ever since the repeated mantra on side three of the Beatles White Album. I mean, it was a novel idea – “Revolution Number Nine” is hardly art, and certainly not music, but in it’s very presence on an album by the most revered band of all time the song is nothing if not revolutionary. Consider for a moment the audacity of it. A collection of mutterings, chants, bleats, sound effects and musical fragments all collected in a collage that essentially stands for nothing at all. What sort of statement is that? What the hell were the Beatles thinking anyway….

Here’s a revolutionary notion — I can be just as disgusted by the actions of the left as I can with the actions of the right…

or…

….I remain unmoved by a photo published in the morning news of the benevolent hero Bono shaking hands with the little people; folks who forked over a generous three figure sum for a front row seat in a concrete cage. A Mastercard™ moment, priceless to be sure…

It’s all so contradictory.

So you see, Issue Number Nine of Smokebox presented some interesting philosophical points of departure. We had scheduled an interview with Greg Sage months ago, but obviously had no idea that Joey Ramone would pass away the month we planned on running the feature. How the Ramones influenced an entire punk nation (which included a pack of Portland acts including Sage’s band the Wipers) is fairly obvious. They were the first, they were the fastest, and they defined the fashion that was to be absorbed and modified by the British punks who moved in to steal the spotlight. They were revolutionaries in their own, apolitical way. They were until the end fierce, and mostly uncompromising individuals.

The business of rock and roll was never the same after the Ramones put their sneakers to its bloated backside.

The Ramones are all over issue Number Nine. Consider it our way of paying respects. If the band didn’t mean anything to you, you better step on out of here and come back next month. Marc Covert remembers the first Ramones show in Portland circa 1977, and the aftershocks that rippled through the local music community in its wake. I blew the dust off of an old interview conducted backstage at a Ramones show in 1984, the only occasion I ever met the band, and a multi-leveled experience I will always carry with me.

…number nine…number nine…number nine…

Greg Sage is a musician for whom I’ve always held the utmost esteem. The Wipers are Portland’s most important rock-band, and had a far-reaching influence on more musicians than they will ever be credited for. Their anthemic ode to the disenfranchised Is This Real is deservedly recognized as one of the most gripping slabs of wax to leave its angry imprint on the punk movement. It could be proposed that Over The Edge found the band achieving transcendent levels, with it’s seething emotional undercurrents and pounding sonic onslaught. Covert and Sage had a hell of a conversation, full of revolutionary concepts such as creative independence, standing up for your principles and the nature of artistic compromise. We’re publishing the interview in its entirety. Read it, enjoy it and take hope from the fact that people like Greg Sage have the integrity to stand up for what they believe in spite of inconceivable pressures to do otherwise.

…hold that line…Wait, don’t turn that channel, there’s more. A startling splash of fiction by Kurt Eisenlohr whose central character grapples with the revolutionary concept of throwing his broken television in the dumpster. It’s a short story with a deceptively complex notion at its heart. Can you imagine a world without TV? Without Survivor II, Monday Night Football and Temptation Island? It wasn’t so long ago that society lived immune from its current cathodized narcosis. Not long at all…

Last, but not least, John Pinamonti has an excellent review of a number of unheralded Tenor Sax Titans in the always informative confines of the Root Cellar. Pull up a chair and set awhile, why don’t you?

Read on my friends, read on, for Number Nine

will…not be…televised.

 

Originally published:
Issue Nine
May 2001

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