So what’s with Billy Idol

So what’s with Billy Idol on Letterman the other night? A million years ago I was a big fan of the blond one–well, at least a big fan of a handful of songs–but what’s he doing now? Did he have new material to show? Not! He stood on the well-lit glittery stage with his perpetual sidekick Steve Stevens, the twister-haired guitarist, and played the very old Rebel Yell.

It was so lame. It’s very hard to be energetic on a small TV studio stage, and the sound wasn’t fuzzed up or anything. Low volume, no bass to speak of. It was like watching the Donny Osmond version.

I thought back to a road trip I took in 1986, when I was a student at St. Francis Xavier University, in the one-horse college town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Billy Idol was playing in Halifax, about a 2.5 hour drive away. My buddy Ken, drove up from Sydney in his Camaro (another 2.5 hours). We had a few beers and then headed for Halifax.

When you hear the music you make a dip
Into someone else’s pocket then make a slip
Steal a car and go to Las Vegas oh, the gigolo pool

I don’t remember much about the show except for the bit when Steve Stevens lit into the big guitar solo in Eyes Without a Face–it was great. The rest was so-so, partly because Idol’s voice was shot from too much rebel yelling. I think I enjoyed it at the time, but only later did I realize I hadn’t enjoyed it as much as I thought I had.

I’m on a bus on a psychedelic trip
Reading murder books tryin’ to stay hip

After the show we had a few beers somewhere and then drove back to Antigonish. (Things were different then.) Ken slept on my sofa and headed back to Sydney the next day. A few months later he crashed his Camaro when he hit a patch of gravel on a turn while racing with a buddy in another car. The Camaro skidded off the road, flipped a few times, sending Ken flying out the window, and finally T-boned itself into a pole, folding it in half. Miraculously, Ken only had a few scratches. The man is blessed. He can also eat like a horse and never gain weight.

I’m thinkin’ of you you’re out there so
Say your prayers

I couldn’t sit through Billy Idol on Letterman, so I flipped around and eventually found Bill Mahar’s Politically Incorrect, which allowed me the surreal experience of watching former Prime Minister Kim Campbell and Jimmy Walker of Good Times fame (“Dy-no-mite!”) sitting side by side spewing liberal conservatism. Screw that, I turned it all off and hit the sheets.

Who gets paid?

Without getting into the whole debate, here’s a bit of an anecdote about music in these modern times.A few months ago I was trolling around the servers at work and I found every track of U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind sitting there as 160-bit MP3s. I also found a crazy bootleg of The Police and U2 doing a live version of The Police’s Invisible Sun. So I threw the whole lot onto a ZIP disk and took them home. That night I burned them onto an audio CD for my listening pleasure on any CD player (no MP3 player required).

Today I’m recording things onto MiniDisc so I’ll have music to listen to at the gym. I copied over the U2 CD.

This is four generations removed from the original but it sounds as crisp as new because it’s digital. And uh… I didn’t pay for it.