Today at the shawarma shack Meg and I had a 15-minute conversation with a semi-homeless, ex-con musician about ZZ Top. He offered me tips on how to play their stuff (“stick to pentatonic, dude”) and some merchandise (“I can get you some stuff autographed by Billy, man”). This is actually pretty standard for a Thursday afternoon in Austin, as is coming back to the office and chatting with the boys about “The Top.”
My current favorite ‘Top lyric is from “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide”:
Well I was rollin’ down the road in some cold blue steel,
I had a bluesman in the back, and a beautician at the wheel.
Here’s some stuff from an old New Yorker profile of ZZ Top Guitarist Billy Gibbons:
“Gibbons drinks beer through a straw, to keep the suds from getting in his beard….A straw apparently helps beer go down quick. Gibbons made frequent trips to the bathroom, trotting through the bar, a slight figure with a little paunch, leaving double takes in his wake. A TV was showing footage of a tornado. Once, in Kentucky, Gibbons recalled, “a tornado preceded our arrival and passed us by. It so happened that there was a bra-and-panty factory in town, and the tornado tore it up. We were greeted by the sight of bras and panties hanging from trees for five miles.”
“Punks used to wear razor blades, but these guys play ’em, lividly. It’s fun, like eating tequila backward. They’re bound and determined to suck you into their cliché–but, hey, everybody has to search for roots, remember? Alex ‘n’ Newsweek said so. ZZ Top just laid off awhile to dig up more of theirs. Yet listening to Degüello really is as painful as trying to swallow tympanic jalapeños, so proceed with caution (and eat your “high energy” hearts out, mush-grooved power poppers). If you lose control, you can always douche with guacamole.”
How come nobody writes about music like this anymore?
I miss playing music. Comics and writing are so lame compared to rock and roll.
It’s the truth, admit it.