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June 28, 2004

Humanity Quantized: A Presidential Candidate "Rocks"

If it stands as an indication that political inclinations can seep into the work of music journalists, John Jurgensen's "In his youth, John Kerry could rock" is also evidence that the two combine poorly:

Forget the photo ops on the snowboard, the hockey skates, the Harley. Never mind the shaggy visage of the rebel Vietnam vet. If John Kerry's supporters still need to prove that their candidate isn't a stiff-necked square, maybe they should be blaring "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" at top volume.

Whether or not this comment applies to Jurgensen, I don't get the impression that Kerry's supporters — at least those not encouraging him to stay out of the spotlight altogether — understand their guy's problem. It's as if they've all succumbed to the blindness whereby the dork doesn't understand that aping Cool exacerbates the image he seeks to dispell. (Believe me, I speak from experience on this one.)

Look at the group picture that introduces his old band's cashing-in Web site; he's the stiffest of a generally stiff bunch. Listen to his bass intro to "You Can't Sit Down" (MP3), which sounds as if it has been badly quantized. As band member Larry Rand (guitar) recalls:

He describes a young Kerry in terms that all of the candidate's acquaintances seem to use: determined, serious, studious.

"We did want him to loosen up, but I'm not sure we were applying that to John Kerry specifically," Rand says. "We were applying that to all of us."

At least on the snowboard, John Kerry could get down.

Posted by Justin Katz at June 28, 2004 10:19 AM

"Aping cool" - I know exactly what you mean - I call it the "Lawrence Welk does the Beatles" effect.

Posted by: c matt at June 29, 2004 5:15 PM