Let’s hear it for late-career resuscitations!
One of the best examples is Roy Orbison. Bruce Springsteen kept his name alive on “Thunder Road” in the mid-70s, much like Big Punisher did for Mobb Deep. Later on Tom Petty and the guy from ELO sat down with Orbison and created a knockout 80s single!
After that Orbison was working, even if it wasn’t always on his own terms. He became a Wilbury! And David Lynch set his music to a lip-syncing, cross-dressing Dean Stockwell!
Then show-business killed him. But Orbison retained his spotlight.
A few years after Orbison’s demise, we prepared Johnny Cash for his own twilight renaissance. This was achieved mostly by forcing the man to cover every contemporary artist possible.
I personally would have rather heard Cash cover “Hey Hey What Can I Do” or “Back On The Chain Gang”, but these songs were over a decade old! Instead, Cash was used to reassure artists with then-unproven legacies. Depeche Mode, Trent Reznor, and Beck were all established artists, but only Cash could give them immortality. The hands of a master!
Now so many of our authentic, original rock figures are dead. The ones who are almost deceased are hardly waiting in obscurity: Keith Richards has topped headlines at least two separate times this year, albeit both stories were about death.
Who can the stars of this century dig up to make their own careers significant? May I suggest: The B-52s?
Think about it. They aren’t rock originators, but they certainly have the giddy, playful spirit of early rock and roll. Their guitars and Kim and Cindy’s original hairdos were a conscious throwback to the period. Sure, their lyrical content is just plain hallucinatory, but their rock cred is real!
Just think of what you can make them do! Timbaland won’t need Justin or Magoo to hype him when he has Fred Schneider rapping over his beats. And when it comes to female pop, Gwen Stefani and Fergie can never spazz out quite as well as our favorite blonde and redhead.
It seems that pop sensation Sophie-Ellis Bextor is ahead of the curve! She’s already co-written a song with Fred Schneider—“Supersonic”!
“I had a wishlist of people I wanted to work with, people who make really good pop music and the B-52s were on there.”
That’s the late-career recognition I’m talking about!
But if Sophie’s already put Fred to work, we may have missed the boat on The B-52s. Oh well; there’s always R.E.M.! Make Michael Stipe cover that solo Rob Thomas song!