Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Awfully beautiful: five jerks who wrote touching songs

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 2010 at 10:05 AM

click to enlarge And a vandal, to boot.
  • And a vandal, to boot.

Roger Waters, widely considered to be one of the biggest egotistical jerks in music (do a Google search for "Roger Waters jerk" or "Roger Waters asshole"), is playing the Sprint Center this Saturday. Waters is also one of those folks who, despite their total douchebag tendencies, still managed to write some truly moving tunes. "Wish You Were Here," the touching tribute to Syd Barrett, is the sort of song that almost makes you forget Waters' continued flogging of his musical past and poor treatment of his former bandmates. In that spirit, we present five musicians who released moving pieces of art, despite being terrible people.

Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando has become fairly well-known for stomping off-stage halfway through a show, or berating audience members who request songs. After receiving a Classic Album Award from NME in 2008, he chucked it in the garbage. Dando's also done such bewildering things as playing 24 songs in 45 minutes (as he did in St. Louis back in February). Therefor, one would never guess that such a mercurial individual might've written mixtape staple "Into Your Arms."

click to enlarge spector_mug_shot.jpg

Phil Spector is a notorious wack-job. He supposedly waved a gun in the studio during the recording of John Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll, as well as alledgedly pointing a crossbow at Leonard Cohen. (This is, of course, nothing compared to the fact that Spector was convicted of murdering Lana Clarkson.) It is, then, surprising to realized that Spector was co-writer and producer of the Ronettes' classic "Be My Baby," one of the sweetest love songs of all time.

You almost have to feel bad for Ike Turner. Despite being one of the men who laid the cornerstone for rock 'n' roll, as well as a Hall of Fame inductee, he's probably always going to be remembered as "that dude who beat up Tina Turner." Damned shame, that. However, the fact remains that Ike Turner is always going to be remembered as a vicious control freak with a mean temper. Even when denying that he beat Tina, he still admitted that he would hit her on occasion. Yet, he wrote "I Miss You So" early in his career, a plaintive swinging blues about losing the love of someone who had to go.

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Axl Rose of Guns 'n' Roses was, if the book Watch You Bleed was any indication, a notorious puss hound. He's also written "One In A Million," a song which -- even if you believe it was written as a "character" -- is one of the most homophobic and racist songs ever to make it on a major label release. Top it all off with the riot-inducing concert issues (walking off stage halfway through, starting late, canceling altogether), and you've got a royal asshole without even considering his multiple abuse charges from former wife Erin Everly and girlfriend Stephanie Seymour. The fact that such a violent, selfish dickhead could write "Sweet Child O' Mine," the only power ballad to not suck, baffles. It's touching and deep: a deviation from the usual "suck it, bitch" aesthetic for which Rose is best known.

Lastly, one does have to consider Waters himself. The guy's known as a bit of a control freak and megalomaniacal figure, and is fairly much infamous for spitting in a fan's face during a 1977 performance in Montreal. Then there was the whole "Roger Waters vs. Elliott Smoth's Wall" fiasco (as ably reported by the LA Weekly) back in May. So, it's not without a little surprise to go back to 1975 and this touching tribute to Syd Barrett, who essentially lost his mind and went away.

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