Last Thursday I had an hilarious exchange with a customer, so simply have to share it with you. The gentleman in question seemed to have stepped straight out of the classic Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends "Survivalists" episode; if you've not had the good fortune of seeing this documentary (to do so, follow the link), it concerns right wing US "patriots" and weapons enthusiasts holed up in a mountain outpost, preparing for the end of the world. It's a blast, believe me.
Anyway, our hero was a Canadian variant with that air of Deliverance madman about him. He was around 35, sporting the obligatory redneck mullet, camouflage combat pants, camouflage ball cap and ubiquitous Harley Davidson t-shirt. He'd been in the store a while, mooching around the Heavy Metal CD section, when he finally walked up to the counter, clutching a copy of Iron Maiden's Powerslave.
My colleague Luke and I were discussing the unlikeliness of the proposed collaborative project between The Flaming Lips and Death Cab for Cutie, a concept Luke was struggling with. "But it's not as horrifying as the forthcoming Metallica and Lou Reed album!" said I (aghast at the notion, as I will be until my dying day, however the album turns out).
"Lou Reed...that's the guy in Foreigner, eh?" said the customer.
"Er, no...that's Lou Gramm. Lou Reed was in the Velvet Underground," I responded, at once smugly amused at this guy's total lack of musical knowledge, and genuinely astonished that, regardless of his musical taste, he had somehow managed to avoid knowing who Lou Reed is for his entire life. How does that happen?
"I don't keep up with the modern bands," he fired back, poe-faced, as I took his cash for the Iron Maiden CD.
"They were around over forty years ago, " I explained, "and you must have heard Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed - it's a classic!" I then started with the "doo-de-doo-de-doo-doo-de-doo-doo-de-doo-doo-doo-de-doo" hook of said song, only to have my doo-de-doo-ing stopped in its tracks by an aggressive, "That's cheesy shit!" from our survivalist chum.
"Oh man, it's an awesome song!" I said, in a totally friendly manner, without a hint of condescension, and certainly not expecting what was to follow. Transaction complete, a bag for the CD refused, our conspiracy theorist friend thrust his Powerslave CD right under my nose and roared: "Death to the conventional! This is what it's all about!" He then turned away and marched out of the shop, my parting "OK, you know best, bud!" presumably lost in the cacophony of Maiden riffage that soundtracks his inner world.
So, yeah, Iron Maiden, that most unconventional of bands. Iron Maiden, multi-millionaires to a man, who travel around the world in their own chartered Boeing 757. All hail the underground metal gods for keeping it real. Iron Maiden, whose lead singer wrote (admittedly satirical) books about an aristocratic character called Lord Iffy Boatrace, and who holds the position of Marketing Director of an airline. This will be the same Iron Maiden, I trust, that has been signed to the same major UK label, EMI, for almost thirty-two years. That's really sticking it to The Man. This will be the same deeply unconventional label, of course, that is or was home to the furiously independent, cutting edge, revolutionary acts Keith Urban, Richard Marx, Amy Grant and scores more of their awesome ilk.
Death to the conventional, indeed.