Prettyboys vs. Soul Singers

For some reason, more women than men seem to like the Gena Rowlands Band.

This is an unforeseen development.

In the movie biz, there’s leading men and there’s character actors. Leading men are the prettyboys but character actors got soul. They also got the chops. They work steadily but you never see them on the covers of those supermarket checkout magazines. Especially not on the arm of some pinup actress.

I’m a character actor.

The leading men among songwriters are guys like Josh Groban, John Mayer, Chris Carrabba, Connor Oberst, Maxwell… you know, swoony types. Which is fine, no dis to their cheekbones. But I tend to side with the character actors, like Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Van Morrison. Uh, and more contemporary ones too, like…

…and there’s the rub. The current state of the music biz, even the indie music biz, does not value a good song so much as a good haircut. That’s about as un-punk as it gets. One of my favorite punk rock t-shirts read: “Poor. Ugly. Happy.” (Thank you, Avail.)

Right now I’m trying to think of indie songwriters who aren’t pinup-ready. All the ones who come to mind are so obscure as to be meaningless in an essay like this. What about…

Ted Leo? Franklin Bruno? Help me out here. Post some suggestions.

Everyone succumbs to starpower at some level. It’s understandable. But beauty is fleeting and charm is deceptive. Somewhere behind all that is the real story.

The Gena Rowlands Band is all about telling the real story. By any means necessary.