Thursday, August 16, 2007

Add It Up

Rock geeks like yours truly are all atwitter over the news that bassist Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes is suing lead singer and main songwriter Gordon Gano over nonpayment of royalties - and, partially, for "trashing the band's reputation by allowing its signature hit, 'Blister in the Sun,' to be used in a Wendy's commercial."

On that last score, Mr. Ritchie, your disappointment is duly noted, and is shared by many of your fans. However, I'd remind you that "Blister" is now 24 years old. Its presence in a national commercial, on balance, can hardly hurt anything. At best, it exposes the song to more of the amorous teenagers for whom it was written - and they'll be delighted to find out how graphic and anthemic the song is, and its album as well. Really, placing the song in a hamburger ad is pretty subversive, from where I'm standing.

Besides, the gold standard for selling out was set earlier this year, when "Express Yourself" was used in a Botox commercial. That's right, N.W.A. are now de facto pitchmen for a product that helps middle-aged white women get rid of their wrinkles - and Dr. Dre and Ice Cube have a lot more cred to lose.

Mind you, I don't know the details of your case, and you may have good grounds to sue - but the reputation-trashing argument has got to go. In fact, maybe you should "do what tastes right" and start placing other songs. Might I suggest "Country Death Song" and "Dance, MF, Dance"?

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