(got mine in size extra surly)
Alright, I just read a long essay on a semi-popular website opining that Mark Kozelek’s War On Drugs baiting is especially undignified (he’s accused of “monetizing” the one-way feud) and represents an embarrassing, low ebb in a mostly storied career.
Keep in mind, this same internet outlet has been all too happy to publicize most of Mark’s recent outbursts on pages that feature extensive advertising.
The author seems particularly aggrieved that his personal thank-you for DECADES of obsessing over Red House Painters records, worrying about Mark’s well-being and ability to pay back taxes, etc. is the following : “his shows seemed to me increasingly sadistic in other ways: He was playing for well over two, sometimes well over three hours, which I found to be a physically punishing experience when I could neither sit down nor move in any way to the music. He refused to play large chunks of the Red House Painters catalog, and the songs he did play were reworked to the point of being unrecognizable, often stripped of their melody and sometimes, seemingly, any melody.”
Yes, how dare Kozelek torture his loyal fans by playing for a long time? How can he be so arrogant to ignore the music of a group that’s been defunct for 13 years (after having released a dozen new albums since, not counting live recordings or collaborations)?
Y’know what other songs Kozelek sometimes renders unrecognizable? Those he’s released under his own name (or that of Sun Kil Moon). Not to mention his covers of songs by the Misfits, Godflesh,Ted Nugent, AC/DC, Husker Du, John Denver, Bruno Mars, Genesis, Modest Mouse…and I don’t need to go on because the Red House Painters’ self-described “biographer” knows this laundry list as well as I do.
(if someone’s biggest takeaway from ‘Among The Leaves’ is being bummed out about the “guys in tennis shoes” line, jesus fucking christ, that’s really sad. Kozelek should title his next album ‘You’re A Very Special Person (And I Cannot Live Without Your Support)’.
But reinterpreting/dismantling his own material and that of others….to paraphrase that other great American artist, Mark Henry, that’s what Kozelek does. Whether the surliness is schtick or sadism or a little of both is open to conjecture and probably only Kozelek knows for sure. But to give him grief for not being a fucking jukebox / pro entertainer is pretty wack. Dude’s grown as an artist — doesn’t seem all of his superfans have grown as listeners.