A Tenacious D song led me on a ferocious mental journey about the artistic process.
If that sentence makes your lip curl in distaste, move along.
The song is called “Tribute,” and it begins with a bold declaration: “This is the greatest and best song in the world…Tribute.” “Tribute” goes on to disprove this attestation, spinning a tale in which JD and KG meet a demonic beast that demands them to “play the best song in the world” (or he’ll eat their souls), and against their own expectations, they actually do—however, they can’t remember or reproduce this alleged Best Song In the World, so THIS song, the one they record, is just a tribute.
It’s a pretty badass song. There’s one line where Jack sings “This is just a tribute…you gotta believe me,” and he pronouces “me” kind of like “meh.” (Bear with me here.) In the approximately 87 times I’ve listened to this song in the past few weeks, I’ve gone from slight annoyance at the pronunciation, to acceptance (i.e. ignoring it as I headbang since it’s during the part that rocks the most heavily), to full-on respect.
Let me take you through this journey.
It just sounds off. Is he trying to sound like…I don’t know, more of a musician than a comedian? Like, attempting to add some ’70s swagger to this clearly ridiculous song? Whatever.
There had to be a point during the writing of this song where Jack Black made some decisions. He doesn’t seem like the kind of dude that really gives a shit about what people think, but he’s a performer in the public eye, creating content for public consumption. Even if he’s “creating for himself,” I assume he’d like to keep making money doing it, and that he wants to acquire and retain fans as well as gain critical approval from, if not everyone, then outlets he respects and influence his career trajectory. So, back to that “meh.”
It might have flown under the radar for a lot of listeners, but it also had the potential to be polarizing. People are picky. They turn on artists they claim to love at the drop of a dime! I once had a friend tell me he wasn’t an Arcade Fire fan anymore because he just found out Win and Regine are married, and married musicians don’t “have enough edge.” WTF. Win + Regine 4ever.
Whether or not Jack Black made a predetermined decision to pronounce that “meh” or it just escaped his body in a fit of spastic singing, it stayed in the final recording. There are choices to be made when you’re writing a song or story or screenplay, big ones and little ones. You can agonize over whether to pronounce the damn thing all rock-and-roll-y, the way that feels RIGHT to YOU, or to play it safe in case people think it’s dumb; oh, and of course you can argue with your own brain over a veritable infinty of topics for an eternity, until you topple over, frothing at the mouth (or simply give up and order a burrito, which is far more likely).
The dating site OKCupid recently published a statistical analysis of a trend they’ve noticed. (You can find the article here, but I’m not gonna go into all that…math.) To paraphrase somewhat, they found that ladies with an extremely unique look (for example, heavily tattooed and pierced women) generally get hit on more than the normal looking, cute girls. I take this to mean that those that have specific tastes, are REALLY into those tastes. Take this quote from an interview with Molly Ringwald, famous redhead:
Sometimes it seems like everyone loves blondes. But the people who like redheads—well, they like them so much it’s almost a fetish.
So once you make one of those polarizing choices, it’s in your best interest to, and I’m cringing as I type this, stay true to who you are. Those that get it will fully get it and love you as hard as a fan can love—which is HARD. This is no world for the wishy-washy. You gotta believe me (the normal pronunication just feels right to me).
Photo credit: PAUL MCCONNELL / GETTY IMAGES