By Andrew Whorehall
Operation Rockford Fail: A sexy, blond highlighted, orange skinned boy from Naperville, IL, win’s Fox39’s, Rockford Star contest before a hot, screaming, Market Day Crowd. The contest is a Midwest preliminary for the amazing TV show, American Idle. The winner, Clayton Heinrich, is from Naperville, not Rockford. Whatever, it’s funny either way. Good job, Fox39. Thanks for the article.
The kicker was this: The crowd, FOX39 endorsed winner, performed Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, to a very happy crowd of American Idle fans as his encore performance. The Milky Market Day crowd was glazed over with tears of joy and shiny bright, white smiles.
Rockford Star contest aside, the Market Day event in downtown Rockford, was wonderful. I ate a hometown cupcake by CAKED, absolutely delicious, drank a hometown Carlyle brew, the Irish Stout- amazing, and ordered 3 wood-ovened pizzas to go by an unknown family business that has no business location- yet. PLEASE start a business, the pizza I brought home was great. Not better than downtown’s long established, Capri, but great.
While waiting for the pizza, I stood in awe of Naperville boy’s performance of Hallelujah. Something terrible happened overnight in my sleep. It has ruined my appreciation for the song, now, 19 hours later. I woke up today and tried listening to John Cale’s version (the destruction of the soul version as I call it, see below), Jeff Buckley’s… even Rufus Wainwright. Scarred. It’s going to take some time.
I vented my complaints about this performance (along with the ironic fact the boy was from Naperville, not Rockford) on the popular social media outlet, Facebook. Or as I’ve resorted to calling it amongst people who really get my sense of humor; Tardbook, MrMurasakisbook, Titanpridebook, Americasbook, Assbook, Phishfansbook, Noonereadsanymorebook… the list goes on.
It spurred some good questions and comments by some of my favorite people. A friend from one of my favorite local pubs and eateries, The Olympic Tavern– a family owned, Rockford establishment for 65 years, pointed out; NO mention of Cheap Trick anywhere. The RRStar’s famed journalist, Geo, a HUGE Cheap Trick fan (17 related articles she’s posted on the Tricksters at RrStar since last Oct. 7th, 2009), failed to mention anything about our beloved hometown musical heroes while covering Rockford Star. She’s always known for covering the Trickster tid bits so this was strange to see, read. I learned this boy with the nice highlighted hair and altar boy voice was from Naperville, IL- not Rockford. Good job, Fox39, Rockford, the milky-faced crowd with their slimy smiles and sweaty brows cheered him onto victory.
There was a comment posed by an ex-patriot Rockfordian, now Arizonian, resident who asked: I almost want to hear this rendition to see how it went. There are a couple versions people did on YouTube that were pretty good, but Buckley’s version? Man I don’t know if that one will ever be surpassed. I agree, why even attempt something that’s been destroyed by John Cale and Jeff Buckley? I’d argue their versions are far better than Cohen’s original; but neither of theirs would exist without Leonard Cohen’s. Hmm. so I thought about it more.
And I started thinking about why Clayton’s version works the best for Rockford, America, white people. It was the sound of his performance, the delivery, almost mocking Buckley’s version without trying…. hmm, what was it about this version I can’t stand? I’ve been sitting on it all day, it’s affected my creative work process (I do have billable work to do too) so horribly I can’t find the right Saturday afternoon soundtrack to work to.
Let’s try to describe how this version of Hallelujah sounded and appeared to me, standing there, waiting for my 3 pizzas.
1. Find a business that calls itself a church- if you’re in AZ, wander into the desert, find a Rockford Metro Centre or Peoria Civic Center looking venue with a disturbing metal white Cross, or a nice Logo. We have one here with a stroked 1pt to 3pt. lined box around an,h. The letter h. Design wise, it’s a great logo- Rockford LOVES it. Now, park your car away from the cross near the quickest assumed exit. Go inside.
2. Wait for a spiritual service to begin, buy some coffee, maybe purchase a book and a CD too. I opt for bumper stickers and gawking at the hot, born again 28 year olds that used to party hard when they were 16-26. I like to prove my capitalist allegiance to the Lord’s people on my car while driving with a bumper sticker. It’s an Illinois thing, maybe you can start a trend in AZ or other states need be?
3. So wait, just wait for the band to start playing…. wait, sit through the lecture performance, look over the crowd, beautiful women everywhere. A spiritual lesson of sorts. Some of these performances & lectures by those that call themselves ‘ministers’ or ‘priests’ include long-winded reasons to NOT see that movie Tom Hanks was in, DaVinci Code. My favorite visit to a fake church for laughs was the one I was dragged to for political research before the 2004 election— to physically see how the Republican party was funding video advertisements endorsing President Cheney and his pal, George Bush Jr’s, anti-abortion stance through video advertisements filtered through Evangelical churches preaching about family morals and anti-abortion laws. Yawn. SO SUBLIMINAL and creepy. Somehow it worked, another 4 years were rewarded to President Cheney. What a dumb country. (Bush’s campaign = smart but creepy. Get the dumb, white, christian people to vote based on abortion laws and the war on their own emotions- FEAR OF TERROR. There will be laughs for decades, major thank yous to christian elephants, FOX television, Florida and Ohio.)
4. Now, sometime before your next bowel movement and after the spiritual performance/lecture thing that causes people to stand and cheer and praise stuff, there’ s a good chance one of the band members- the best looking one who also could be a member of My Chemical Romance or AFI (or any sh*tty emo glam band) will step out to sing, like on American Idle, with an acoustic guitar, all sensitive and fake, white, R&B like.
5. At this point you will imagine Halleluah as it was originally written by Cohen as you prefer it performed, perfected versions by Buckley and Cale.
6. Grab your wife, galpal, coffee, book, cd, whatever, briskly walk-jog to your car. Drive home. Now try to forget what just happened, get some sleep.
Does that help you imagine what I saw and listened to? I wonder if she, Geo (The RRStar journalist) or the crowd was even aware that Clayton was singing a Leonard Cohen original. A masterpiece with regards to modern day classical pop songwriting having been covered by so many respectable artists. I awoke from a night’s nap and thought further; HOW DARE YOU COVER this song if you can’t deliver it’s age and wisdom properly.
Clayton, how dare you?
FOX39, how dare you allow him to perform this traditional pop masterpiece to a crowd of salivating humans without cutting the mic off? I AM SCARRED.
Now, after wasting your time, here’s what it really looked and sounded liked.
I feel bad for Clayton, I have to point this fact out second to lastly— this is not about you, son. I honor and respect your ability to get up and perform alone before a predominantly jaded Rockford, IL crowd on a hot, sweaty, beautiful day. You did what you came to do from Naperville, to win. Hi five, you couldn’t pay me to perform in front of a majority, white, Rockford, sweaty or snobby crowd. You could pay me and then feed me afterwards to throw market day vegetables at the crowd (no problems there).
Also, this is not about the Market Day Event- it was great. If the point was overlooked, this is about irony, my hometown and a few other disturbing facts: Fake Churches, Arizona dreams, Facebook, Evangelical Republicans with business agendas using anti-abortion as a foil for votes- successfully (and disturbingly) I’ll add. Bottom line fact; You made a Rockford Star out of a Naperville boy. Good job Fox 39, operation fail.
Now, sit back, listen, watch this if you need to, I can’t anymore. Then, damn the Mississippi River for being so inviting, so cruel.
dD | andywhorehall.com