Thursday, August 13, 2009

Road to Ruin

My eccentric neighbor had created a time machine. Unfortunately for him, he was a very old man, and he died before he could use it or share knowledge of it with anyone but me. Thus, the greatest power in the universe was left in my care. And I had every intention of abusing this power by traveling to the past, taking advantage of my knowledge of the future to get ahead of the game, with no regard for how many lives I would unmake in the process. After all, was it murder if the person never even made it to conception? (Probably it's something even worse...)

I had nothing so prosaic in mind as cheating the stock market. It was not money I was interested in. I had far greater ambitions. I was going to be a star, and I had the perfect plan. Traveling to many years before The Ramones were supposed to have formed, I would channel the revolutionary sound of their music to blow audiences away. By "channel," I mean steal, and by "sound," I mean their exact songs.

I started naturally with "I Wanna Be Sedated." Praised as beyond cutting-edge, it was an instant number one. I followed it up by putting together an album of all the other great Ramones hits. In less than a month, it went quadruple-platinum, and I had become the biggest celebrity in the world.

Then my scheme ran into a minor hurdle. My fans and backers still wanted more, but I had run out of Ramones songs that I knew. (In real life, "I Wanna Be Sedated" is the only Ramones song I know, and I don't even know more than its titular lyric.) What was I to do? Start composing my own songs? Never! I would have to dig deep to think of what else I could preemptively plagiarize. What other songs did I know that sounded similar to The Ramones?





Nothing came to mind, so I went with Brandi Carlile's "The Story." Another hit, and the magazines applauded my ability to reinvent myself. Although I knew no more Brandi Carlile songs either, I now felt confident that I could keep my career going for several more albums. If these people seriously believed that the same man could write both "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "The Story," then they would accept anything I gave them, so long as it was good.

My next single was KT Tunstall's "Other Side of the World." Shockingly, I received my first bad reviews. I was outraged. These people were idiots. Not only were they wrongly criticizing me, but they were disrespecting KT Tunstall, whose work I evidently admired enough to unscrupulously steal. Perhaps I had finally gotten too far ahead of the time.

In an attempt to rebound from the negative reception to my latest track, my agent booked me for a fan Q&A event. A few questions in, a teenager stepped up to the mic and asked me how I was able to exactly duplicate his songs that he had not yet shared with anyone. The dream had become a nightmare. How had I never considered this scenario that now threatened to unravel all my plans?

The young Ramone sounded more genuinely curious than suspicious, and, seeing as how he had never shared his work with anyone, I doubted he had any evidence that would hold up in court. No, I alone knew and understood the truth. Everyone else would think he was just some crazed fan. But I couldn't take any risks.

With the press in attendance, I kindly suggested to the boy that he blow his own brains out. To my horror, he actually had snuck a gun in, which he then proceeded to use to shoot me in the chest.


Czardoz said...

This seems far more coherent than any of the dreams I have. The Ramones, of all bands? This could only be a dream.

I've actually seen Brandi Carlile in concert twice (and KT Tunstall once). Carlile both times took time afterward to sign autographs and glad-hand the fans. Though I respected the fact that she would take the time and face that kind of pressure (the second time I saw her, she was pretty much mobbed by over a hundred fans), I found her oddly impersonal. Not that she was going to act like your best bud, but even though she would respond to questions and talk to you, it was more like she was talking through you, rather than paying any serious attention.

I guess compared to most of the artists I've talked to after shows, Carlile just didn't seem all that happy. Most artists are all smiles, even if they don't have anything interesting to say. She was more than a bit zombie-like. Then again, considering how much sweat and emotion she leaves on the stage, maybe it's understandable that she's somewhat drained afterward.

Tunstall? She didn't talk to nobody after the show.

Henry said...

"This seems far more coherent than any of the dreams I have."

I had to perform some reconstruction, mostly to tie scenes together. In my experience, when I provide just the straight dream narrative, people have difficulty flowing with the illogic. They always end up disappointed when I don't provide a point or a punchline, as if it were a real anecdote.

For lucidity's sake, I also left out some details. For example, before I tried to tackle the female vocals, my greatest hit of all was "La Bamba." I tried to rationalize my crime by convincing myself that I was doing no harm by stealing only from already dead artists. (Yes, that included everyone I named in the post.) Nevertheless, KT Tunstall, somehow a teen of the same generation as Mr. Ramones, later hanged herself because I stole her calling.

"Tunstall? She didn't talk to nobody after the show."

I greeted my fans after my early gigs, but they were actually all my old classmates from my college writing courses. (Because I actually only went that far back in time.)