Exploring the thin line between genius and egomaniac
V Note: I don’t like long posts, but there was so much entertaining information that I just didn’t want to leave anything out. I am sorry if you don’t find this as fascinating as I do.
“This nagging malaise is more than a phase”
I get obsessed with songs. When something hits me a certain way I could play it on repeat for hours. I can get that way with certain CDs, but generally it’s just songs. Part of it is that I use music in my personal (non-blog) writing. Sometimes a song will be so overwhelming that I have to write a short story or something just to get it out of my system. Writing has become more of a purge lately. I’ve had stories swirling in my head and music only serves to escalate their prominence in my thoughts. I’m not saying the stories are really worth sharing or very good at all. But, if I don’t write them down, I become obsessed with ideas and characters, which does not lead to a very productive workday.
I say all this because my current obsession is with a song from the Eels’ two disc CD BLINKING LIGHTS AND OTHER REVELATIONS. The song is called “trouble with dreams.” You can hear a snippet of it (and other songs for free here or at the lead singer’s dog’s myspace account—not joking). Anyway, I’ve been working on this somewhat more involved project with my friend from NYC. And, I started seriously thinking about contacting the Eels to see how much it would cost to use their song for this project. If you haven’t hear them recently, they’re maybe most famous for “Novocaine for the Soul” from the 1990s.
Anyway, as I’m doing research on this band I love, I find out the life of this rock star is, like, particularly complicated. Let me give you some highlights:
Mark “E” Oliver Everett: the “genius” behind the Eels (43 yrs old)
E’s father: Dr. Hugh Everett III, author of the Many Worlds Theory, one of the most important physicists of the 20th Century—
Amber his fan club president who lives in the guest house (26 yrs old)
Mrs. E a.k.a Natasha Kovaleva, Russian dentist he married in 2001
Bobby Jr: E’s Blood Hound (click on his myspace profile to hear the song that is my recent obsession/inspiration).
DC Connection: Until the age of eight, Dr. Everett lived in Washington, DC with his mother, Katharine Kennedy, a troubled poet and author.
Sad past: At 19, E found his father dead. His troubled sister, Elizabeth, committed suicide in 1996. And his mother died of lung cancer soon thereafter.
So these are the people that I read the most about. And, I should say that there are many interviews where E says some really cool stuff. A couple interesting Q&A’s (More info) :
C.M.Y.: Then you’re back to promiscuity and drugs with "Dirty Girl." The song starts, "I like a girl with a dirty mouth/ Someone that I can believe."
E: I don’t trust people who don’t use profanity. If people make an effort not to say "fuck" or "shit," etc., I feel they’re not being real. Come on, this is how we talk. It’s not hurting anyone. Who cares" I’ve felt that way since I was a kid, being around other kids’ families where people would have to put a dime in the cookie jar if they used profanity. What was that about"
C.M.Y.: You appear to be mining your autobiography again in "Lone Wolf."
E: Being married has brought to light just what a lonely loser I am. It’s become quite apparent that I’m not much of a "people person." Mrs. E is patient, but I may be pushing the envelope a little thin. In the song, I’m owning up and accepting that this is who I am. A real loner at heart. But there’s joy in the music. There’s this great relief in accepting what you are. Now, if the people I’m around can accept it is another story.
But then there is this description:
Did you see the EELS' recent performance on the David Letterman show? Would you really expect a bearded, pajama-clad man playing an antique keyboard while swilling bourbon and dancing around with a walking stick to be a normal, "nice" guy?
What was the most fascinating to me was reading his (now ex) girlfriend’s ramblings about being a groupy/fan club prez/lover of E (and yes, he was married at the time). Her name is Amber, she lives/lived in E and Mrs. E’s guesthouse. Check out her columns on the band's official website. The following excerpts are some she wrote about her life and her E:
Just the other day we were about to leave for an awards ceremony and began fighting over a hairbrush. True, E was the one receiving the award that night and I was the one monopolizing the hairbrush, but his manner was so brutal, so abrupt. How he came into the bathroom and RIPPED the hairbrush from my hand mid-stroke and began styling his hair furiously while muttering things I can't reprint here -- why, I was so stunned, I began screaming at him, calling him "boorish" and "insensitive," and he began screaming that we only had MINUTES to get to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Soon both of our hot tempers had dissolved into tears and I wish all of you could have seen the way we knelt exactly like children on the bathroom floor and held each other and wept.
As I've told you, it's not always easy living with someone as talented as E, but the rewards are immense. Just recently, after wrapping up my work for the day (hand-stamping E's signature onto five hundred 8x10 glossy photos) I was in the mood for a little fun. E was in his studio, toiling away as usual. I knocked on the back door and waited, but he didn't answer. I could hear him inside, coaxing his hound dog, Bobby, Jr., to "sing." I thought they were just playing, so I knocked again.
Suddenly the door flung open and there was E. He looked so mad that he practically had steam coming out of his ears. "Amber! What the [F-word] do you want? I'm working!" he screamed. I told him that I was sorry to interrupt and that I was just looking for some fun.
E stared at me with fire in his eyes and then turned around, clapped his hands and yelled, "Everyone! Listen up!" I'm not sure who he was talking to since the only occupants of the room were a dog, a microphone, a bunch of instruments, and a tape recorder. "Amber wants to have FUN. Stop everything! Amber's lonely! I guess we better not record Bobby, Jr.,'s solo. Never mind! This is more important," he screamed, with that maniacal glint in his eye. Sometimes he can be so scary! I felt like I was trapped inside the Souljacker Part I video! I started to cry and ran back to the guesthouse with the sound of the studio door slamming behind me.
Six hours later I heard a knock on my door and there was E with a little bouquet of flowers he picked from the guesthouse garden. He explained that he was under a lot of pressure to get Bobby, Jr., to "sing" but that Bobby wasn't "feeling it" and he was having a lot of trouble getting an acceptable performance out of him. We held hands and laughed. I opened a bottle of wine and it ended up being a night I will never, ever forget.
Power over fans:
This is from a question a fan sent in to E that gives a glimpse into how very serious his fans are—this fan has just been led backstage after an Eels concert:
But, so help me God, when I set foot in that room, all the many generations of levelheadedness vanished. E was in the center of a throng of about 50 or 100 girls ranging from the ages of 18 to about 19. Some were crying, many were laughing out of sheer joy and nervousness. Some clutched CDs, others copies of Teen People, Rolling Stone, Scientific American and various other publications. A few girls even wore E-styled Ray Ban sunglasses and Unabomber hooded sweat jackets, zipped down for provocative effect. Suddenly I realized I had forgotten to bring even a scrap of paper for him to sign…. Clutching the laundry marker in one hand, I ripped open my one hundred percent cotton button down blouse and, exposing my bra and the firm, round globes of my breasts to the entire room, commanded, "SIGN THESE!"
Favorite response to a fan from E:
This is the burden of being an EEL. It's not as easy as you might think. Believe me, we'd like to systematically make love to each and every one of you, but due to the sheer number of you, and the constraints of time, the best we can do is make love to a few hundred of you and the rest have to settle for the music. But we like to think that playing music for you is a form of making love. Really. Think about it. But I'm afraid we can't send Puddin' (band mate) through the mail. People often mistake drummers for animals, but, although Puddin' is a drummer, he's still a human being. Sort of.
Favorite questions from a fan
Dear Uncle E,
I need your help. Every time I listen to Eels I have the uncontrollable urge to take my pants off. This in itself is not a problem, but my fiancée doesn't like it when I do that. She says that there is a time and a place to de-pants myself. It is putting a strain on our otherwise loving relationship. Please help.
P&E (Pantless and Engaged)
So there is a little glimpse into this interesting artist and his band and hangers on.