Monday, 23 September 2013

Lasting Impact: Bill Hicks

The amazing, nearly prophetic, hypnotizing Bill Hicks. This great great man was born in 1961 and was died in 1994. I was 11 at the time and had never heard of him then, so it have a lot of impact on my life at that point. I mean Frank Zappa died the year before and that probably had even less affect on me and my daily living. Why do I bring this up? Well, one of the jokes/routines Bill used to do was when he talked about something happening a long time ago, and thus should be forgotten. And I get sick and tired of people saying "Before my time". That is no excuse to be ignorant.

The first time I ever came across Bill Hicks was when my older brother brought a couple of VHS tapes (Yes those) during one Christmas. For some reason the tapes didn't work properly, but the audio worked. And the message he was spreading was immense. He didn't really do stand-ups, he delivered sermons. If he had taken a job a as a vicar, that church would have been on the brink of world domination by now. He was a major influence in terms of philosophy, politics and life. He raged against organized religion, consumerism and any restrictions towards personal freedom. Sure he did have his conspiracy theories(well one of them), in the form of the JFK assassination. He was a big drug user, but quite very soon. But the stories he used to tell about his experience were great like this sketch:

His main problem with governments were attacks on personal freedom, The War on Drugs, Pro-Lifers, censorships against pornography... and the like. Freedom was his agenda. And not just his freedom. Everyone freedom. The freedom to do to your own body as you want. The freedom to live as you wish. Of course you can't have freedom if it restricts somebody else's freedom. But if you wish to do drugs, have sex, smoke, drink... whatever then you should be free do to so. If you want to burn a flag, then sure go ahead. That flag (the US one) does stand for freedom, including the freedom to burn the fucking flag. This video also applies to the Poppies that the Brits as so obsessed about.

The other thing about Bill Hicks that most people don't notice or know is that he was actually a very positive person. It might not always come across like that during his stand ups, but if you read the biography that his friend wrote, Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution and the book filled with his scripts Love All The People, you get a totally different picture. The first one sort of destroyed my brothers image of Bill Hicks as a uber skeptic who was the new messiah. How? Well it turns out that Bill was a big believer in nature, and would only take mushrooms during certain times of the month, in the grace of mother nature, with a week long preparation before embarking on his shroom trip at his friends land. But the upside of that was of course that we got great comic material like this one:

So... He didn't kill anyone. Didn't rob anyone. Didn't rape anyone. But then, why did he stop? Well in his words "once you've been taken aboard a UFO, it's kind of hard to top that".

But why am I writing about Bill Hicks since most of what I write about is music? Well, the answer my phantom questioner, is that he was also a guitar player. Not a great one, but a good one though. Best example of his musicianship is on Arizona Bay. For a man who would rail against popular music, if he had concentrated on his music instead of stand up he would have based his act on KISS. Of all bands I don't think there is a bigger commercial enterprise in the music business that knowingly will market anything to the masses. Probably even arsenic for babies. With a patent to follow it up. But he did treat is stand up act like a rock and roll show. I don't think there's any doubt that he would have made it as a musician.

His influence was very outreaching. Tool asked him to open their concerts during the Lollapalooza festival. Radiohead have sampled him. Tom Waits loves Rant in E-Minor.

As I said in a previous blog entry, Bill possibly had a bigger influence on my political leanings then any other figure I can mention(besides my parents). His values of freedom, social justice and equality, are still values that I hold very dearly and live my life by.

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