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Shrimp, Ke$ha & Late-Period Iggy Pop

Shrimp, Ke$ha & Late-Period Iggy Pop

Photo by Kimberly Lawson

Iggy Pop is the American Mick Jagger, our own spirit of the sixties. He can not die–he’ll just keep amassing more wrinkles and squiggly varicose veins. Headlining Saturday night of Project Pabst (A.K.A. MusicFestNW), Iggy was athletic and ecstatic on stage alongside the Willamette River. His voice, from Dracula baritone to banshee shriek, sounds as true as ever.

The people’s pop star, Iggy played the hits: “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “T.V. Eye,” “Search and Destroy.” He closed with the Bo Diddley beat of “1969.” When they played it, it was almost as if “Lust for Life” hadn’t been ruined by a thousand car commercials (which it has, but that’s a small tragedy in the scheme of things.) “The Passenger” was utterly un-ruined by a thousand rip-off songs–notably Green Day’s “Holiday.”

So the Iggy Pop show was good. Did you have any doubt? I’m writing now not so much to confirm that you should seize any opportunity to see him, but to direct you to some noteworthy, obscure points in his catalogue.

Here are four touchstones for those of us interested in such things as the real Iggy pop.

“And… Kesha”

Lest we forget this exists. Some things appeal to me not because they’re good but because they happened. This includes David Lynch’s Duran Duran concert film, the Shrek musical, and the Star Wars Holiday Special. Kesha is second only to MIA for punkest pop star of the new millennium.

The song is neither a masterpiece nor a disaster. It is a peculiar artifact of 2012, the year the Mayans predicted the world would end. Production aside, I’d even say “Dirty Love” is a relatively good fit for Iggy, our country’s freakiest aging sex symbol. He gets the best line: “Santorum did it in a V-Neck sweater.”

“Cigarettes and Coffee, Man…”

Coffee and Cigarettes is a collection of short films by director Jim Jarmoosh. It matches celebrities in pairs and trios to converse over the titular meal (coffee, cigarettes) in dramatic black and white. Here, Iggy sits opposite a prickly Tom Waits in a sort of desperate housewives vie for alpha status. “Oh, are you saying I need a professional drummer?” “What? You think I’m a Taco Bell guy?” Two of our wilder pop figures taking civil and petty jabs at each other would be well worth the watch as is, but the real beauty here is the hurt communicated by Iggy’s big eyes every time he’s insulted or lands an insult.

A weepy pedal steel plays in the background, and neither of them are on the jukebox.

“A Place to Park My Ass”

Iggy in interviews these days is persona-less, married, and freakishly normal. Watch him give Anthony Bourdain a validating “I hear you” when Bourdain says the early Stooges albums were a negative example for his health. Behold the length of interview time he dedicates to his appreciation of chairs. Someone get this man a woolen cardigan!

I like this Iggy. It makes sense to me. If your thing is that you do whatever you want, it stands to reason that some days you don’t feel like cutting yourself up or anointing a crowd with peanut butter. Some days you just want to be an old man in Florida who loves his chairs. And make no mistake––Saturday night his shirt was off and the microphone was in his pants. He was raw power and debauchery, which makes you realize that all the yoga and good eating of his current lifestyle is what makes the performances possible. Notice too that his issue with dying young in the Bourdain interview is to be in “undistinguished company” and to have “all your works flame out quicker with you.” The work comes first.

– Written by Tyler Burdwood

Photo by Kimberly Lawson