Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tear Down The Wall, Indeed...

So, not to churn up any more badly needed publicity for Roger Water's 'newest' endeavor...(recreating The Wall in concert sans Pink Floyd), but i would be remiss if i didn't at least mention this interesting intersection of art & commerce.

Mr. Waters, when last we saw him, was bringing his vision of Dark Side of the Moon to the masses at Coachella, and since this marks 30 years since the epic NY/LA only performances of The Wall, it was certainly time to do it again, with the added benefit of new technology, promising much more in the way of entertainment.

So far, so good...until an ill-fated location choice by a promotional street team engaged to plug his project. The work is a collection of anti.war murals strategically placed around town, (featuring a quote from Ike, no less), one of which happened to end up on the wall of Solutions in LA, better known as the mural on the cover of Elliot Smith's Figure 8...sigh. Since Smith's demise, the wall has become a memorial, LA's take on Pere Lachaise, as it were...

And the crap, (thanks to the LA Weekly), proceeded to hit the fan. Aside from the sensationalized slant of the Weekly, it is a damn shame that the wall has been maligned for years, having been repainted upwards of ten times. Water's team's wheat paste concoction certainly doesn't measure up to the random tagging, but it was a sad oversight.

Waters was kind enough to provide a rebuttal in the LA Times, viewable here, in which he claimed ignorance of both Smith and the memorial, and on his own website, pledged to remove it immediately. His disingenious attempt at spin notwithstanding, (we'll never know if Elliot would have approved of that message, will we?!), a quick response was nice to see, especially from someone who could have easily hid behind PR machinery, and let, what was essentially a local story, blow over.

The amount of control Waters did or didn't have over marketing actions will continue to be debated, but the 'Wall' Waters has built between himself and his fans over the last 30 years, as well as between him and his former band is perhaps the saddest thing of all. Resorting to a Banksy style street art campaign may be someone's fine idea of promotion, but it smacks of the same thinking that has driven labels into their current ditch, and ironically, the biggest noise the campaign might hope to make has only come from its placement fiasco.

A thought for Mr. Waters, both personally and professionally...take a little time to approach the Smith catalogue, pick out three or four songs, do an online covers EP to benefit war vet's charity, and kick back the songwriting royalties to the Smith family...serious win/win. Surely one poet of alienation would recognize another...Nothing to lose but the studio time, quite frankly, and a nice reminder that Water's greatest work was really about Everyman, coping...

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