Day 79: Wonderful

The Residents have been around forever. For their entire career, they have lived far to the fringe of music and art. They never had their moment in the sun. They never got the attention that luck can cast on a band or performer. Their music is really weird, and that is probably why they never had their moment—but look at Devo and other bands from the early 80s.  Lots of weird bands had their moments and their hits, even if just one.

This song is a sad one. It is about their never having made it big. But it also is about their persistence. It is about their weirdness, their audience.  The Residents do what nobody else has done. They have occupied a space in the imagination straddling the subconscious and the real where it is hard to live and harder to succeed. It is about their roots. There is a realness to The Residents behind their masks and weird music, real human experiences. They did not make it big but they have had the privilege of being around, of getting old, and of basking in a bright intense light of devotion.

 

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Day 78: Hello Skinny

Miles really liked the Residents. We listened to them together a few times, but I was never into them too much. We talked about them more than we listened to them together.

I do not know how Miles came to know about the Residents. When I was younger, I remember seeing a lot of their videos on late-night tv. MTV broadcast their music because the network was desperate for video music programming. The Residents pioneered video-music combinations in the 70s when it was not a big part of the music industry, so MTV played them in part for lack of anything else to play. If not for MTV’s desperation for videos, I would never have heard their weird weird music and haunting videos.

I am not sure how Miles heard of the Residents, other than the kind of radial listening he would do with one band leading to another: Ween leads to Zappa which leads to the Residents. He may have seen pictures of my friends’ band The Stonewall Jackson 5. They do a Halloween show every year and they dress in costumes for each performance. One year they dressed as the Residents. On stage, the Residents always wear giant eyeball masks. Nobody knows who they are.