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Henry Rollins - The Death of Joe Cole
October 1, 2009 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Henry Rollins: The Death of Joe Cole: Part 1, Part 2. About 17 minutes total, but, God, worth it.
posted by WCityMike (38 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Really excellent (I have heard the CD). And really, really sad.

For those that say (like I did), "I've seen Rollins Band and the music is complete shit so why would the spoken word be any better?".

Give it a chance. Seriously. Rollins is funny as hell, very articulate, thoughtful, philosophical, and did I mention funny? I think you will be surprised like I was.
posted by gnash at 1:59 PM on October 1, 2009


The Death of Joe Cole

He's dead? I thought he just had knee surgery.
posted by dersins at 2:13 PM on October 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


I have the CD of this, and it is excellent. This isn't his only excellent piece, though it is definitely one of the more serious ones.

My other favorite stories:

Eric the Pilot.

Train through Siberia

L.A. Riots

I couldn't find any youtube links to these though :/
posted by utsutsu at 2:15 PM on October 1, 2009


Amazing. I did hear him tell this story in an interview years ago, but this was much more detailed and heart-felt.

Saw Henry speak in Vancouver about two years ago. I still don't know what I saw that night, whether I would classify it as stand-up comedy, spoken-word poetry, university-style lecture ... but what I do know is, he's probably one of the very few people on this planet who could talk to me for 3+ hours uninterrupted and not make my legs twitch and my brain think of a cigarette.

One other thing : if and when the aliens do show up, I'd probably nominate Rollins over any politician to be the first ambassador out there doing greetings.
posted by mannequito at 2:19 PM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Joseph Dennis "Joe" Cole (April 10, 1961 – December 19, 1991) was a roadie for Black Flag and Rollins Band. He was also the best friend and roommate of the musician/author/actor Henry Rollins. Cole was shot and killed in a robbery at their home on December 19, 1991, as the pair returned from the video rental store (the robbery was precipitated by Rick Rubin's earlier visit to their home in an expensive car, likely leading the burglars to believe there was something of value to steal). The murder remains unsolved. Cole was 30 years old.

Sonic Youth's "JC" (sample) was inspired by Cole's murder, and the Sonic Youth song "100%" on their Dirty album was dedicated to him. The music video shows a reenactment of the police finding Cole, played by actor Jason Lee, dead.

At the time of his death, Cole was in a relationship with Babes in Toyland bassist, Michelle Leon. After his death, she was unable to face the rigors of touring and quit the group. Peers of Babes in Toyland, Hole, also dedicated their second studio album, Live Through This, to Joe Cole. Courtney Love's 2006 memoir, Dirty Blonde, also features a page as tribute to Joe Cole.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:27 PM on October 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


filthy light thief - thanks for that. Although I knew both the story and have always loved the 100% music video, I never realised they were in any way connected.
posted by mannequito at 2:29 PM on October 1, 2009


At the risk of sounding trendy-for-my-time, several Rollins recordings from the early 90s, including his pieces about Joe Cole, kinda help screw my head on straight during some wonky patches right after college. Made me feel better to see some other guy pull the curtain back and show you his pain; puts your own non-thoughts in perspective.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:33 PM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Saw Rollins do a spoken-word performance in LA back around '87, '88. He was double-billed with Lydia Lunch, and it was like good-cop, bad-cop, the positive boy and the negative girl.

He's certainly an entertaining talker, but the Boy Scoutness of his persona grates on my cycnicism. However, if you're going to create yourself, then creating yourself as a good person is a worthy project, and I've never heard anything that contradicts the public persona.

Always thought he would have made a great Superman. The Ed McGuinness Superman seems to me to draw heavily from Rollins.

Perhaps someday he could play Earth2 Superman.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:34 PM on October 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Give it a chance. Seriously. Rollins is funny as hell, very articulate, thoughtful, philosophical, and did I mention funny? I think you will be surprised like I was.

His talking shows are entertaining, but his poetry is terrible.

I had two Rollins poetry books with me on a trip, where I was gone for six months and had no access to any English media and very little other entertainment. I re-read the few other English books I had probably a dozen times, and the Rollins books I gave away, even though I feared they might fall into the hands of foriegners who would think they were representative of North American literature.

Words cannot describe how bad that poetry was...
posted by Deep Dish at 2:48 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


William Shatner and Henry Rollins: "Everybody knows everything about us. I can't get behind that!"

Spoken word over rock music (of a sort, I guess) from Has Been, Shatner's 2004 album, which is better than expected.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:52 PM on October 1, 2009


Rollins comes to central Iowa every other year or so, so I've been able to see his spoken word about 6 times. He comes in with a microphone and bottle of water and talks nonstop for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. It's like A Prairie Home Companion on steroids. And it always goes by in a blink. I can see how he wouldn't be for everyone, but he's a great storyteller. Marius, where he visits a 17-year-old with leukemia is powerful stuff.
posted by starman at 3:04 PM on October 1, 2009


His talking shows are entertaining, but his poetry is terrible.

He's too earnest to be a good poet, or a good actor (I've noticed they haven't given him more than a line of dialog or so in any episode after the premier of Sons of Anarchy). But he's a great hardcore singer and spoken word guy for the same reason that he's bad at the above.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:08 PM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


He's dead? Chelsea will need another attacking midfielder, I guess.
posted by Zambrano at 3:12 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: William Shatner and Henry Rollins: "Everybody knows everything about us. I can't get behind that!"

Spoken word over rock music (of a sort, I guess) from Has Been, Shatner's 2004 album, which is better than expected.


I love one of the lines near that track's end:
BILL: I can't get behind so-called singers that can't carry a tune, get paid for talking, how easy is that?

[pause]

Well, maybe I could get behind that.
posted by WCityMike at 3:13 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I once told a female friend with mild tastes in music that I had just seen Henry Rollins doing an in-store in Tower Records. [Yeah, this was a long time ago.]

She said, "Is that the loud guy?"

True story.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:13 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that the spoken word performances originally started as intros to the poetry, and gradually took over the show--thank God. I have the earlier tapes (haven't kept up with his latest work), and went to hear him once in Memphis--starman speaks truth, he's a natural-born raconteur. Even the T-shirt that I got at that show, with WON'T SLEEP/WON'T SHUT UP on the back, interspersed with coffee cups, remains a favorite.

For my money, the best of the tapes is Human Butt, which has Rollins in a more reflective and self-deprecating mood. "Donate Your Bodies to Science You Fools!" is just freaking incredible.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:31 PM on October 1, 2009


dersins: He's dead? I thought he just had knee surgery.
'Dead,' 'plays for Chelsea'... really we're just arguing semantics here.
posted by koeselitz at 3:34 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not a huge Rollins fan, but: this was great. Thanks, WCityMike.
posted by koeselitz at 3:35 PM on October 1, 2009


Anybody wanna hear the 'Really? The Chelsea Midfielder?' joke one more time? I can do it.
posted by kingbenny at 3:51 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's certainly an entertaining talker, but the Boy Scoutness of his persona grates on my cycnicism.

I giggle every time I hear him describe himself as a "big, mean, tattooed, G-rated Boy Scout".
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:58 PM on October 1, 2009


I adore his spoken word, I look forward to checking this out, and I can't eat a piece of stone fruit without his voice in my head saying "Peach? YOU'RE A MAN!"
posted by padraigin at 3:59 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anybody wanna hear the 'Really? The Chelsea Midfielder?' joke one more time? I can do it.
posted by kingbenny at 6:51 PM on October 1 [1 favorite +] [!]


No, but I noticed you favorited your own comment and that made me smile.
posted by lyam at 4:06 PM on October 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is another song that I learned at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. The song originated in Irish Creek, on the Blue Ridge Parkway near South River Virginia in the early 1800s. Joe Clark had a daughter who jilted her lover. The young man is said to have written the song out of spite and jealousy: Old Joe Clark (not the same guy, FYI).

Clarification of a previous comment: when I wrote "better than expected," I meant "I really like this album, and only a few songs are enjoyed ironically."
posted by filthy light thief at 4:06 PM on October 1, 2009


I really like this story. I watch the DVD that it's from every once in awhile just to help reset certain views on the world. His spoken word performances used to be good beyond description, but unfortunately they've grown to be too much like stand-up comedy for my tastes. I like it when he just tells stories, funny or not.
posted by dogwalker at 4:08 PM on October 1, 2009


No, but I noticed you favorited your own comment and that made me smile.

Ya know, I was just kinda idly thinking, "How could I step up my arrogance a notch on the Meef?" and that was the best I could come up with.
posted by kingbenny at 4:13 PM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


On a much more serious note - that video is great, thanks for posting it.

Anybody know roughly when this was recorded?
posted by kingbenny at 4:14 PM on October 1, 2009


Talking From the Box was recorded in LA in 1992, according to Amazon, so it would have been just a little bit after Joe Cole's death.

That video and Alice in Chains' Facelift Live were my prize VHS tapes during my wastrel adolesence. I used to bring both of them over to my friend's house on weekends and we'd stay up late every night watching them over and over. I still snicker every time I hear "Bun-Bun" or think about Sly Stallone being pulled out of the womb with a wrench. I'll skip a rewatch -- hits a little too close to home just now -- but thanks for posting this.
posted by Errant at 4:45 PM on October 1, 2009


boyscout image? we've got a book on the shelf at home that contains passages like "after the show, fucked some useless slut. felt empty inside." (paraphrasing, but not a huge deviation)

i wasn't aware that anyone thought he was squeaky or clean.
posted by radiosilents at 5:31 PM on October 1, 2009


I just want to echo koeselitz, I'm not a huge Rollins spoken word fan (though a huge Black Flag fan) but that was moving and something I didn't really expect, and whatever anyone says about the rest of his spoken word / poetry set I don't care, that was worth watching.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:37 PM on October 1, 2009


I think that the spoken word performances originally started as intros to the poetry, and gradually took over the show--thank God.

I got out Get in the Van to look up something about this and ended up reading it for an hour. Forgot what I was looking for, but that's a damn good book.
posted by ignignokt at 5:41 PM on October 1, 2009


Always love me some Hank spoken word. When he reaches into his grizzly punk gut, he can put out some raw emotive stuff. Of course, there's also Solipisit, but hey, you know, sometimes the grizzly punk is all rawrrrowroroo and not all refined proper like.

I once drove a van. That Hank was in. It took everything in my will power not to tell him to get in the van.
posted by cavalier at 6:16 PM on October 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Anybody wanna hear the 'Really? The Chelsea Midfielder?' joke one more time? I can do it.

Some of us don't have time to/don't care to read everyone's posts. I think most people can figure that out.
posted by Zambrano at 6:17 PM on October 1, 2009


i wasn't aware that anyone thought he was squeaky or clean.

Current Rollins material largely focuses on his self-professed utter inability to keep up with the fucking-some-slut lifestyle, and his preference for going back to his hotel to slam his wang in the toilet.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:08 PM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


This piece as meant more to me over the years than most of you could ever imagine. I think in 'post-irony world' we've been trained to think it sounds corny somehow when someone credits someone's music, or a particular book, or some piece of 'inspiration' with saving their life, but in some little piece of my brain I know that watching this VHS tape I bought back in '92 did that for me.

I was 12 when my sister was killed, a murder that would go 'unsolved' for 22 years even though everyone knew exactly who was to blame. For the next several years I had family and friends and therapists telling me 'it's OK to be sad, it's OK to feel this way'. No one had any way to know how I felt, and as a teen I guess I wasn't articulate enough to tell them. By the time I was in college, I had entered a spiral of depression, my brain not wanting to deal with the world around me, not caring what anyone thought anymore, just not wanting to have to deal with what I had begun to see as the uselessness of life.

I never did anything to really hurt myself, but looking back I know I was heading there. I had plans, I looked at situations I found myself in and thought 'I could just...', but I think I was, at some level at least, still trying to find something to grab on to, some reason to believe things weren't the shit they appeared. Not much helped.

Just before I left for college I heard Rollins 'I Know You' on the radio from Vanderbilt's radio station. It struck a nerve, so when I saw the 'Talking From The Box' VHS at the store a couple years later I figured I'd check it out. I sat, and watched, and by the end, the story about losing Joe, I had tears streaming down my face. I couldn't explain to my friends why I was so moved, but when I heard Henry say 'You're all breathing, and that's the coolest man. You have to go with that.' something in my head clicked. I wasn't instantly a happy guy, and yeah, to this day I still fight with the depression and all that it tangles up, but Henry Rollins had put something in my brain no one else had been able to. I had lost someone very special, and that was more pain than I really knew how to deal with, but the worst part was also the best part. I was alive, and in the end that's what mattered.

I've probably said more about this right now than I have in a long while, and I don't usually share this much but this piece has meant that much. A few years ago I got the chance to meet Henry for a couple of minutes, to shake his hand, and to look him in the eye and tell him how much his work had meant to me, how sharing the pain of losing his best friend, and dealing, and going on had been something I could finally relate to. What I got back meant just as much- 'Thank you for saying that, and thank you for being here to say it.'

Henry Rollins will always be a seriously good dude in my book.
posted by pupdog at 5:21 AM on October 2, 2009 [19 favorites]


Henry Rollins gives money to The Partnership For a Drug Free America (1:30)? Oh....shit.
posted by telstar at 5:50 AM on October 2, 2009


yeah he makes a small reference to his straight-edgeness in the Joe Cole talk. He doesnt get a single demerit for his support of the Partnership for a Drug Free America. He think drugs can fuck up your life and you can be more awesome without than with them. And they can and you can.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 7:33 AM on October 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was 15 years old I went to the local punk-rock club at the beach to see Henry Rollins read his, um, poetry. While I was there I found my boyfriend smooching with someone else in a doorway! And it was a guy! Man...I sat down on the floor at the front of the small room (there were only 20 people there; this was 1985) to listen to the show and I cried quietly through the first half. When Henry said it was time to take a break, I was flabbergasted when, after scribbling something on a scrap of paper, he stepped off the low stage and squatted down next to me.

"Take this," he said, handing me the paper, "And if he ever does it again, call me and I'll come cut his penis off." He patted me on the shoulder and walked off. I looked at the paper and it said "Henry, xxx-xxx-xxxx."

Henry Rollins can often be a big old cheeseball, but I never will forget how much that exchange -- a punk-rock icon going out of his way to both comfort a stranger and make her laugh (not to mention he knew exactly why I was crying) -- meant to me.

THANK YOU, HENRY ROLLINS.

And I still have his phone number, in case any of you get out of line.
posted by staggering termagant at 1:12 PM on October 2, 2009 [15 favorites]


passages like "after the show, fucked some useless slut. felt empty inside."

point exactly. My That's how a Boy Scout feels after he fucks a useless slut, and he eventually resolves never to do it again.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:30 PM on October 2, 2009


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