POEM LII: “BRYAN ADAMS”

“If you only have one swing with the axe to take the tree down, Max is the guy to do it.”
–Lukasz Gottwald

It was said of Max Martin,
the Swedish producer,
but I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,
that if you really want to take that tree down,
Bryan Adams is a better choice of lumberjack.

Listen to how he manages
the staggering key change of “Please Forgive Me”,
or the truly unholy bridge of “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman”:
it’s like watching a barehanded climber scale one of those sheer faces in New Mexico,
handhold to foothold to handhold,
sixteen feet in as many seconds
making it look easy.

It’s not easy.

And therein lies the paradox
that has been biting Bryan Adams in the ass
for nigh on forty years:

Past a certain level of skill,
everyone thinks they can do your job.

Put a good-looking blond boy
in a black leather jacket and a white t-shirt,
give him some lyrics that teenagers can understand
even if English is their fourth or fifth language.
Stand him on top of a chunk of the Berlin Wall
and take his picture in black and white:
focus-grouped rebellion.
Get Bob Clearmountain to help produce it,
and later, Mutt Lange, who never met an edge he couldn’t smooth—
the real miracle would be if this shit didn’t make money.

And maybe that’s true, but it all hinges on the boy.
And when he’s been touring for two solid years,
as he did when he was twenty-five years old,
suddenly character becomes really, really important.

How many twenty-five-year-olds would fuck up after six months?
How many after eight?
How many would wrap their car around a tree,
get caught with a meth-raddled hooker,
or worst of all,
decide they want to be taken seriously?

Remember, you signed him for one dollar.

Nervous yet?

Don’t be.
Bryan Adams is a fucking professional,
and he will do his job.

Think back over the last thirty years,
or however long you’ve been standing in this supermarket line,
waiting patiently for “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” to be over.
As many times as you’ve heard this song,
as sick as you are of it,
he’s sung it a thousand times more than that,
under rainy skies and snow,
in clouds of mosquitoes, haze of fever,
freezing his ass off or dying of heat,
and it’s been the same every time:
perfect.
Steadily ratcheting up the emotional scale,
hitting each note smack dab on the head,
workmanlike and precise as a bricklayer with his mortar.

It’s not poetry.
It’s not groundbreaking.
He’ll never be the critics’ favorite.
He’s never even tried.
He keeps his head down,
stays out of the papers,
and does his job:
making it look easy.

So hand him the axe already.
Bryan Adams is a fucking professional, and
he has got this.

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