Maybe the government has trouble defining torture but us music fans sure don't. We know when we're in hell! It's just that one person's paradise is another person's Hades. My parents got great joy from music that made me want to live on my own. Well, let's not get carried away here. Free room and board and all the Hot Pockets you can eat pretty much kills all career ambitions.
For your entertainment, I tried to spread the torture around, figuring out ten "events" or whatever you want to call them that could definitely get people to spill their innermost secrets.
As always, there will be those of you who enjoy these things! Take solace in that and just think how you actually have an advantage over me! You know how to make me miserable! And who doesn't like feeling that power?
10) Celine Dion Singing Into Your Ear: I know she's incredibly successful and people love her to death. But even if she has 50 million fans in the United States, there are 300 million people living here right now. We have to take out about 100 million for kids under the age of nine who don't notice anything and people over the age of 70 who are all deaf, so that still leaves 150 million people who would rather not listen to Celine Dion. And since she's so loud and dramatic, she wouldn't be very easy to ignore. You can pick another loud singer in her place if you'd like. But mine will be Celine.
Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music: I know it's a classic. One of the greatest albums ever made. Yes, yes. It's also an hour of unrelenting feedback and I own it on 8-track and CD. I haven't played it since one New Year's Eve when I decided to go completely psychotic. It worked.
8) American Idol Outtakes: I have to admit I've never watched a complete show. I've only seen snippets of it on the news and part of that is genuine indifference and part of it is because I can. I've heard enough people describe it to me as something they wouldn't wish on their worst enemy and even the people who enjoy it admit there's something unnerving about the whole thing. But the show itself obviously holds entertainment value to someone, whereas the "outtakes" and "bloopers" are just bound to be completely awful.
Throbbing Gristle: I could pick a ton of bands who could qualify for this honor. Anyone interested in assembling a Pussy Galore Boxed Set? But Throbbing Gristle have a suitcase of their assaultive noise and I know people who have sworn that they've never quite been the same since.
6) Frank Zappa And Robert Pollard: Performers Who Insist On Recording And Releasing Everything They've Ever Thought Of: Even if you LOVE either of these guys, you have to admit there are limits. There are times when you wish there was an edit button. Not every one of Frank's guitar solos can be worth hearing. He had to have a bad night sometime. And Pollard's written something like 10,000 songs, so you know he's repeated himself. Yet, if you're a fan, you're actually worse off than the people who hate them. Because you need to keep collecting these recordings. Because chances are part of your fandom is that piece of OCD in you. It's there to mock you in your most reflective moments. Somewhere out there is an EP you don't have!
Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen And Any Act Who Insists On Playing For Hours: Sure, the fans can never get enough. But my aching back says three hours is too long for anyone to play. Even if you love every song they pick, there has to be point when you throw your hands in the air and say "I need a snack!"
4) Sid Vicious Basslines Isolated: There have been files of David Lee Roth's isolated vocal tracks circulating on the Internet and they've been pretty amazing to hear. Now, we pretty much know St. Sid didn't play the basslines on the Sex Pistols album, but there are live recordings of the band out there and surely some tech geek can find a way to isolate those precious basslines and let the world hear what is surely NOT musical genius--even if the concept of the band was pretty entertaining.
2) Sitting In A Recording Studio Waiting For The Superstar To Show: Yeah, this would be even worse. Because now NOTHING is happening. Now you're just sitting around waiting to see if Mick Jagger will ever be there on time. Charlie Watts once described his first 25 years with the band as being about 5 years of playing and 20 of waiting around. At least he got paid well.
Nine Inch Nails fans, that's your gig. But I guarantee most people would rather a big, fluffy bed at the end of the night. And how much music can you really listen to? Unless you've got one heckuva game of RISK going on.