Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mott the Hoople -- "One of the Boys" (1972)

I'm just one of the boys
One of the boys
I don't say much but I make a big noise

Lisa Robinson was definitely not "just one of the boys" when she broke into the world of rock journalism in the 1970s.  As she has written,

The rock world always was, and still is, predominantly a boys' club.  Often, I was the only woman in the room and certainly the only one who wasn't sleeping with any of them.

I first became acquainted with Lisa Robinson when I heard her being interviewed about her new book, There Goes Gravity, on Tony Kornheiser's radio show.  Kornheiser was fascinated by her accounts of life on tour with "classic rock" superstars like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

Lisa Robinson
Her stories about Jagger and Richards and Page and Plant interested me as well.  But what really caught my attention was her answer to a question about which artists she would pay money to see perform.  

Lisa named the Clash (if lead singer Joe Strummer were still alive), Jay-Z, and Kanye West.

Lisa with Kanye West
Lisa and I were in our late twenties when the Clash crashed the music scene like a runaway train, and her enthusiasm for their music isn't surprising.

But relatively few white folks of our generation -- especially females -- are fans of rappers like Jay-Z and Kanye.  

If Lisa admired their music, she was someone whose writing I wanted to know more about.  So I went to see her a couple of weeks later when she appeared in person at Politics and Prose, a bookstore that's right here in Your Nation's Capital:

Lisa and I had a nice chat after the Q-and-A session at Politics and Prose, so I feel very comfortable calling her by her first name.  (Lisa, you are more than welcome to call me by my first name, too!)

I'm going to ask her to be interviewed for 2 or 3 lines, and I'm sure she'll say "yes" because she seems to be a big fan of my wildly successful little blog:

Lisa Robinson and 2 or 3 lines: BFF!
Lisa got her start as a rock 'n' roll journalist when her boss -- he later became her husband -- asked her to take over his column for a British pop music weekly.

Eventually Lisa moved on to the New York Post, and then to Vanity Fair, where she has covered music and the music industry since 1999.

The first chapter of There Goes Gravity is a first-person account of the Rolling Stones' 1975 American tour.  (Note: I saw the Stones play at Kansas City's massive Arrowhead Stadium the first week of that tour.)  It opens with an anecdote about a phone call Mick Jagger placed from his hotel room to Lisa's hotel room at 3 AM exactly 39 years ago today -- July 5, 1975.

Lisa with Mick Jagger
Lisa goes on to explain why she refers to the Rolling Stones as "the boys":

Male musicians in bands are always called "the boys."  Men who are well into their sixties -- some in their seventies -- when they are on tour, are referred to as "the boys."  Sometimes there's an attempt -- especially with the British and the Irish -- to be a bit more graceful.  So they say "the lads."  Or "the guys."  But it is never, ever "the men."

(In case some of you other boys out there think this means it is OK for you to call women "girls," let me disabuse you of that notion.  If you think what's good for the gander is good for the goose, you obviously don't understand how the typical goose's mind works.)

When I was vacationing on Cape Cod over Memorial Day weekend, I was lucky enough to get a rental car that was equipped with Sirius XM radio.  One day, the "Underground Garage" channel featured a set of songs that had "boy" in the title -- including Mott the Hoople's "One of the Boys," which was released in 1972 on the All the Young Dudes album.

Lisa with David Bowie
All the Young Dudes was produced by David Bowie, who wrote its title track.  In the next 2 or 3 lines, we'll feature a song by Bowie, whom Lisa Robinson first met in 1971.  In fact, Lisa introduced Bowie to two of his musical idols, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, that year.

Here's "One of the Boys":

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

And click here if you'd like to buy Lisa Robinson's There Goes Gravity from Amazon.  (Trust me -- you want to read this book.)

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