Doing what's scary
This has been a month of Blonde Tracey.
My album, "The Last of the Cartoon Vagabonds" has been releasing slowly, Single by Single.
As each song tells a story, I wanted to create characters who I felt could help me to remove myself a bit and focus on the themes these fictional people were dealing with.
First, there were the friends of mine, all with hearts on fire, in a slideshow: Pyro's Heart.
Then came the song, "Hey Dude," which, framed by a story created by Kathleen Kinmont, and realized by videographer, Carmen Moreno, tells the story of a brother who has fallen away from his sister, in dealing with his own grief and loss and self-medication. This was a scary subject, and drew reaction from some listeners who felt it was too close to the bone, seeing as many American communities have been plagued by opioid addiction.
"I Guess We All Get Blue" took a cartoonish look at homelessness and isolation, as three clowns, of different ages and dilemmas, discover that each and everyone carries a shade of blue, and that no one is ever really alone. Bright, and maybe Pollyanna-light, it might seem a strange and contrary thing, to make a light pop song with country-guitar licks, in a time when the pandemic has divided us and threatened culture, way of life, sheer existence.
When we listen to music, do we need comfort and cheer and energy and a hooky melody? Maybe.
TRACE, the next single, is musical, I hope, hooky as well. I draw my influences here from Prince, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson and John Martyn. The story is something out of the world of David Bowie.
I wanted to explore what Cindy Sherman does as a photographer, in disappearing herself, boldly becoming another. I knew that Trace was a guy. But it occurred to me that I didn't want to cast a guy.
I also thought, what if I play both a guy and a girl, in this video? I knew the guy would be a Grunge Hero, but older now, a burn-out. Someone who made a big name for himself, someone who couldn't handle his own fame. Someone who, in the video, would not survive.
The other character, Tracey, would be a creature of the light, who is not taken seriously and does herself no favors. She becomes obsessed with Trace, and in a pure mania, pursues him, though he is oblivious to her, to anyone.
Trace stands on a mound of detritus and plays to no one. He carries a gun and fondles it, plays with it, fantasizes with it. He is burned out but is determined not to fade away. He is a victim of isolation, and perhaps too many drugs.
We shot the video in one day in the 91605 area of North Hollywood. It was hot as hell, so we got to work early. Our plan was to capture the pursuit of Trace by Tracey. We wanted to capture two different kinds of energies. One manic, the other resigned and detached.
Trace plays with masks, with irony. He rides up and down the subway escalators, exchanging masks and mocking people. Tracey imitates him, not realizing that the closer she gets to him the closer she gets to oblivion.
There is only one way this story can end. As Trace takes his life, Tracey surrenders her own.
We wanted to leave the viewer with lots of questions. Is it possible that there is only one person here?
Or is it possible that one can become so attached to another as to lose herself ? Is it possible that the woman didn't know how to be anything but a fan girl, and that this role became just as unsustainable as the role of the ageing grunger?
In a discussion online, most people concurred that the electric guitar was not a masculine instrument, that it belonged to and was played equally well by members of both sexes.
I would like to believe that this is true. Women who have to juvenalise themselves and play the groupie, the chick, end up at the altar of rock stars who struggle to maintain their deities. In the end, it's all false masks, we go home just looking for someone or something to cuddle.
It was scary playing a guy, a guy with a sad little goatee and added age spots. But it is also interesting to dare to not be cute, sexy, alluring in any way. I was advised not to show this video.
But I am putting it here, on my website first, where you will also find the Single, photos too.
Looking forward to your comments.
BTW: THE PASSWORD FOR THE BLONDE PAGE IS GrungeGod.
Please stay in touch.