Help me, Help me, Help me sail away
Worst Year Of My Life? Nineteen Eighty Three! Oh, yeah - A lot of you punks hadn't even been born yet, but for me 1983 was bad enough to make me wish I had never been born at all. In 1983 I was twenty two years old, I was in the United States Army, and I was assigned to Fort Polk, The Most Horrible Place In America outside of whatever room Eddie Murphy was in. Fort Polk is located in The Middle Of Nowhere and by "Nowhere" I mean anywhere in Louisiana that is not New Orleans. Not only that, but Ninety Nine Percent of the troops residing in Fort Polk were Males meaning that for every Female in the goddam place there were nearly One Hundred Males and for every Male wandering around looking for a Girl there was about One Percent of a Female. Very plain young Women were walking around like they were Penelope Cruz and this was at least a decade before anybody ever heard of Penelope Cruz - That's how full of themselves those bitches were! So what you basically had were thousands of very bored, pissed off young idiots all packed together in very close proximity with nothing to do but get drunk and hate each other's guts. Is this where I got my dim view of My Fellow Man? Maybe, but that would be letting my Parents off the hook. Hook? That's an interesting idea.
What a depressing place! You think you got bummed out when you first saw "The Wall", just imagine sitting through that mess in a US Army Movie Theater full of wasted Army Guys! I'm sure half of the crowd is still sitting in there after all these years "I'm not going out there! Just let me sit here in the dark until I dry up into a little pile of dust and blow away! I don't feel good!" No, wait - That's what happened the night we all went to see "Flashdance". I've got it all mixed up.
And just when I thought things could not possibly have gotten any worse - Mick Jones got fired from The Clash! Oh, man! Whoa!
So what got me through this Nightmare (Aside from the fact that, compared to being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan it was really no big deal and I was being a great big ol' pussy the whole time)? "State Of Confusion" by The Kinks! The only other time in my Life that a recently purchased album so perfectly mirrored my immediate situation was when I picked up Guns N' Roses "Appetite For Destruction" on the Sunset Strip while wasted on heroin and playing in a Glam Metal Band with a Psychotic Lead Singer and a Mulatto Lead Guitarist with a big funny hat. I was BLOWN AWAY! I'm back to talking about "State Of Confusion" with that "BLOWN AWAY!" With "Appetite For Destruction" I was too smacked out to have anything to do with upper case letters. I was only blown away. With a period, no exclamation point.
I will never forget the day I picked up "State Of Confusion" at the Fort Polk PX (No Fort Polk PX jokes. Just take all the Wal Mart jokes from the Taylor Swift article I wrote for the last issue, pump them up with helium, and crash them into New York City while screaming "The Humanity!! The Humanity!!" That's all I have to say about the Fort Polk PX). "State Of Confusion" captured where my scrambled lil' head was at so perfectly I thought Ray Davies must have joined the US Army and spent the past year at Fort Polk just like I had. Hey, if it could happen to Elvis it could happen to anybody!
The Kinks have had a long and interesting History, although the Drummer has never lost an arm in an automobile accident so why go into it? And they have had more than one Drummer! Gee, with all those limbs doing this and that all over the place you'd think at least one would wind up in the bushes with a kindly old constaple bent over it and announcing "Oh, I think I've got it right over here!" But, no! Then there is the turbulent relationship between the Davies Brothers, Ray and Dave. You call that "turbulent"? Joe and Steven in Aerosmith have been at it for so long . . . They aren't Brothers? Well, what are they, fags? Maybe they're characters in a silly Comedy Movie about Rock stars written by Neil Simon forty years ago. Was "Walk This Way" written by Marvin Hamlish? That explains everything!
But, back to the Davies: today Ray has a solo thing with a choir (Not a choir full of snotty little kids like on an old Alice Cooper or Pink Floyd album, Ray's going around with a real choir full of real choir people! Is the word "queer" derived from the word "choir"?) and Dave just had a stroke. Gosh, I hope it wasn't Nikolai! Ha Ha Ha! Whooooo!! Power Pop Punchlines! Get em while they're hot! But The Kinks are Great - If it wasn't for The Kinks there would be no Clash, no Cheap Trick, no Big Star, no Replacements, and - Most important of all - no Acid Logic "State Of Confusion" Motherfucking Masterpiece article! Hhhmmm . . . Maybe we'd all be better off without The Clash, Cheap Trick, Big Star, and The Replacements? Most folks seem to be getting along without them just fine. Fuck em.
"State Of Confusion" was created at an interesting point in the Kink's career by even regular Kink career points. By the early Eighties The Kinks popularity was so low they could not go into London jewelry shops without being pelted with handfulls of diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires by sneering members of The Who and The Rolling Stones. Ray went into a Rolls Royce dealership and was repeatedly beaten with a quarter pound sack of heroin by some guy in Deep Purple. Deep Purple! People like Elvis Costello and The Clash were selling records all of a sudden and who knew what kind of abuse The Kinks would be in for if those hooligans could afford to spend Holidays eating Caviera in the French Riviera? And so The Kinks ventured forth into the phase of their career fans of people like The Pixies and Henry Rollins like to call "Ray Davies' Big Hack Commercial Whore Sell Out ". My, how those people carry on! While other Major British Rock Stars were sitting in their yachts snorting coke and begging members of Monty Python to come over for Dinner, The Kinks were knocking out a steady series of loud noisy crazy Rock And Roll Records and playing an endless series of One Nighters in such glamourous locales as Baton Rouge, Tulsa, Buffalo, Jacksonville . . . Shit, I'm not even a British Rock Star and I get sick thinking about it. Not only that, but his Wife Chrissie Hynde dumped him for the Lead Singer of . . . Uh . . . Shit, I don't know. The Fixx? Oh, man! If something like that happened to Pete Townsend . . . Well, if Pornography counts, something like that did happen to Pete Townsend. So no wonder Ray was in a Fort Polk State Of Mind.
What was it about "State Of Confusion" that had a twenty two year old American Army Guy relating with a Little Old British Rock Star with such intensity that all I had to do was think of Ray Davies and he would look around to make sure that his Bodyguard hadn't fallen asleep? More than any other Rock Songwriter, Ray Davies has consistantly addressed the fears and concerns of the Regular Guy pushed around and abused by increasingly inhuman Society. More than Springsteen? I am talking about GOOD SONGS addressing the fears and concerns of the Regular Guy pushed around and abused by increasingly inhuman Society, DUMB ASS! And who could possibly know more about getting pushed around and abused than a twenty year old guy stuck in Fort Polk and forced to get out of bed before the Sun is even up to do push ups and sit ups while getting yelled at by Vietnam Veterans who don't have enough sense to become drug addicts and live on the street? Like that "They've got you under their thumb . . . " line in "Black Diamond" by Kiss only that's just one line and Ray Davies has been knocking out three or four hundred of em a day every day since the early Sixties. There are a lot of great songs exploring these theme on "State Of Confusion" the best of which is "Cliches Of The World", a song about some poor bastard so bummed out by Life in this World that his only comfort is going to sleep at night to dream about Girls From Outer Space. Wow! "SOMEONE HELP THIS POOR MAN!!" as the background vocals on another song on the album plead. And I used to relate to that shit? Good thing I have gotten on anti depressants since then. I bet Ray has, too!
So quit sitting around whining like a little bitch over whatever's got you down these days and pick up "State Of Confusion", the album that saved me from suicide or, worse yet, getting into Metallica. Too bad Dave Mustaine never heard "State Of Confusion". And me? Eventually I was transferred out of Fort Polk and sent to Panama - At the exact same time Van Halen released "Panama"! WHOA! Should I write an article about that, too? Nah . . . You think I was as good at running around chasing beautiful woman like David Lee Roth as I was at sitting around feeling sorry for myself like Ray Davies? Is it time for my Lithium yet? I want to try that Xanax stuff!
Oh, yeah - The Kinks Big Happy Pop Single "Come Dancing" is on "State Of Confusion", so now that it's the end of the article let's have everybody come out onstage like at the end of "Saturday Night Live" to sing it during the closing credits! Hey, Eddie Murphy! Penelope Cruz! Come on out! Mick Jones! Taylor Swift! Ray! Dave! My man Nikolai! Get out here! Joe and Steven and Marvin Hamlish! David Lee Roth! Dave Mustaine! Springsteen? Aw . . . Okay. Let's sing! Come on! COME DANCING! THAT'S HOW THEY DID IT WHEN I WAS JUST A KID! AND WHEN THEY SAID "COME DANCING" MY SISTER ALWAYS DID! AND THEN SHE'D STAY OUT ALL NIGHT AND COME HOME SMELLING LIKE WHISKEY AND WITH WEIRD STAINS ALL OVER HER DRESS . . . Hey! Where'd everybody go? Swear to God, Penelope, that wasn't me - It was Mustaine! Damn!
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org