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April 12, 2010 10:26 AM   Subscribe

'It's time to let you hear the song which earned me a juvenile restraining order' : Andrew WK, famous for being a) a one-hit wonder party-rock meathead b) a Baudrilladian enterprise undertaken 'in the spirit of commerce' to deliver one-hit wonder party rock, reveals the song he wrote for a crush when 17.
posted by mippy (42 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
"In our senior year of high school, when I was 17, we were required to make a final project which was presented to the head of the school and graded as our final exam."

No we weren't. Maybe he was in some kinda weird forum, but no, we didn't have any final projects due to Dean Judy.

(Though I do totally wonder who the song was addressed to, seeings as most of my memories of Andrew were him making out in the stairwell next to the swings, him and some girl both in black hoodies just constantly sucking face.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:30 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


But the song is pretty funny.
posted by klangklangston at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2010


I did Music GCSE and we had to write a song for Diana, so you never know.
posted by mippy at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2010


My cynical side suspects that this song was written recently, and this column and story are just another piece of the "construct."

My less cynical side... oh wait, I don't have a less cynical side.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Having only read the lyrics, I'm impressed. I mean, it's not subtle and weeping willow metaphors are verboten in my mind, but it's still really evocative. I was seventeen once.
posted by randomyahoo at 10:35 AM on April 12, 2010


I would like a brief executive summary of whether and to what extent this shit is real. You may interpret "this shit" broadly.
posted by grobstein at 10:37 AM on April 12, 2010


"I did Music GCSE and we had to write a song for Diana, so you never know."

No, I went to high school with him (as did Orville Sash, who might have more info). He was probably doing a CR (community resource) in music, which were non-trad, individual classes.
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 AM on April 12, 2010


"Three months ago, I was advised by my personal manager and life coach to finally let people hear it, to resolve the nightmare.

"Andrew WK's double release, Close Calls With Brick Walls and Mother of Mankind, is out now."
posted by The Mouthchew at 10:43 AM on April 12, 2010


Hasn't it been clear that, even if he isn't a fake, there is an awful lot of self-invention going on in the party hard world of Andrew WK. I see no reason not to simply assume that he wrote this song yesterday and everything else is the fiction he is creating around it. And that's fine. Role plan on, party dude.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:44 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Did he get Steven Merritt and Elvis Costello to sing this with him? That's sure what it sounds like to me.

My cynical side suspects that this song was written recently, and this column and story are just another piece of the "construct."

Sure, maybe they are. I can't really say that I care one way or the other, and I can't imagine that knowing one way or the other will change my enjoyment of his song and the little backstory he gives. The fact that something might be entirely fictional or a fictionalized version of something true, doesn't necessarily make it worth any less than something that's 100% fact.
posted by Copronymus at 10:50 AM on April 12, 2010


If this is actually real, I have to agree with another blogger-way to re-victimize someone you apparently terrified enough to get a restraining order, asshole!

But hey, so long as you, personally, are feeling better about yourself now, guess that's ok.
posted by emjaybee at 10:50 AM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm confused...Shouldn't every Andrew WK song come with a restraining order?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:51 AM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


A friend pointed me at Andrew WK several years back. He usually has great taste, so I was looking forward to listening. Instead, I bounced off of an invisible wall. This was some Trek pilot episode stuff right here, right down to the whun-n-n-n noise as I was flung backwards. Is there something with Andrew WK that I just haven't picked up on in order to appreciate his music? I am asking in all sincerity, because "What is this shit?" was my first response, followed quickly by a suspicion that my friend was having me on.
posted by adipocere at 10:52 AM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


This sounds very well-produced for something done by a high schooler in 1997 or 1998. Just sayin'. If it's legit, I wonder what he used to make it.
posted by zsazsa at 10:54 AM on April 12, 2010


He needs to put a donk on it. Then it's another smash hit.
posted by GuyZero at 10:58 AM on April 12, 2010


The backstory is wholly invented. The song definitely exists though. I heard it. And nothing that bad could be made up.
posted by rusty at 11:00 AM on April 12, 2010


Painfully embarrassing songs we wrote when we were in high school: I SMELL A MEFI MUSIC CHALLENGE!
posted by The White Hat at 11:05 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's a pretty "awesome" song, but yeah, I'm not buying it as what it claims to be. That's not the voice of a 17-year-old, even a 17-year-old Andrew WK.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:05 AM on April 12, 2010


Wow. You can really hear his wrist being stapled to his forehead.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2010


Nothing... and like it: “My cynical side suspects that this song was written recently, and this column and story are just another piece of the ‘construct.’”

Copronymus: “Sure, maybe they are. I can't really say that I care one way or the other, and I can't imagine that knowing one way or the other will change my enjoyment of his song and the little backstory he gives. The fact that something might be entirely fictional or a fictionalized version of something true, doesn't necessarily make it worth any less than something that's 100% fact.”

There is a fine distinction to be made here. Certainly the pedagogical value of a thing, its intrinsic worth and benefit to the human soul in itself, is not impacted directly by its source. If the music of Andrew WK comes to you as completely unironic, and if in that context it does you benefit, it is good music regardless of its context.

However, in a larger sense, it's clear that contexts matters; Andrew WK clearly knows this, or he would not have spent so much time focusing on it. (In fact, what's sort of perverse in his case is that he's apparently played both sides of the field on this one, alternately 'confessing' that his persona is ironic and then decrying accusations of irony.) Context matters because if the artist is being ironic, and yet the music has meaning to you in an unironic way, then you and the artist disagree about the highest final aim of the music. If you think Andrew WK's music is great because it's an expression of positivity that's sorely needed in a world of downers – and then it turns out that Andrew himself is taking an ironic posture – then you and he have a conflicting opinion about the benefit or meaning of the art, and you have to make a decision: are you right? Or is Andrew WK right?

All of this reminds me of a parable from Alfarabi that Leo Strauss used to like to repeat. In one of his commentaries on Plato, Alfarabi says that Plato is like a devout and pious ascetic who lives in a city ruled by an evil king who wishes to kill him. The king orders the holy man arrested, and sets guards on all the exits of the city in order to make sure that he cannot escape. The holy man, of course, fears for his life, and wishes to get away; however, he is still, of course, a holy man. So he puts on strange clothes and takes up a cymbal, and as he approaches the city gate he beats the cymbal and pretends to be drunk. When the guard at the gate asks who he is, the holy man says mockingly: "I am the holy man that you are looking for." The guard, thinking that this is just an old drunk mocking him, lets him through the gate. In this way, the pious ascetic escapes without having lied in speech; though he tells the truth to the guard's face, his truth is not recognized because of the context, and he remains safe.

It's actually more interesting, I think, to find oneself in the position of finding Andrew WK's message compelling whilst believing that he is being ironic. The implication in that case is that, though Andrew WK is lying – that is, saying something that he himself believes to be false – he is simultaneously telling the truth. Some might find it silly to try to defend such a position – one is reminded of the fellow in the UK who recently discovered that he was seen as the messiah, very much against his will, by some obscure religion – but it has its benefits. If Andrew WK is an unintentional prophet, then the message he brings is divorced entirely from his person, and belongs either to some higher power or to the simple random chance of fate. Either way, it is further abstracted, and I think that gives it power; it is no longer Andrew WK's legacy, but a legacy that belongs to everyone and no one.
posted by koeselitz at 11:25 AM on April 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also: I'm at work right now and can't hear this song, so maybe somebody else can weigh in on whether it's a prophetic legacy that belongs to Andrew WK, or to all of us.
posted by koeselitz at 11:26 AM on April 12, 2010


Wait, Andrew WK is the Kwisatz Haderach?
posted by kmz at 11:28 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's possible that the laws in Michigan have changed since the 90s in Michigan, but this is really not passing the sniff test for me. Firstly, I am not able to find anything online called a "juvenile restraining order" in Michigan -- contemporary or from the past -- that would last for three years, until Andrew WK was 21, as he claims. Secondly, the current law regarding getting a PPO, or a Personal Protection Order, requires several things when dealing with a stalker:

To quality for this protection order, you are not required to show a relationship with the respondent. However you must establish: (a) a pattern of behavior, (b) at least 2 separate incidents, that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested, and (c) incidents that actually cause the person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested.

A recording made a year previously and given to a girl by a teacher who told her it was from the young Andrew WK, without any additional evidence, and without any additional stalking behavior in the intervening year, hardly seems like it fulfills this criteria. Were the laws different in the 90s? Let's look:

The relevant laws are the REVISED JUDICATURE ACT OF 1961 (EXCERPT) as well as Section 600.2950a, which, as you can tell, date back to 1961. In those laws, there is no juvenile version, but instead is considered to be applicable to anybody age 17 or older. Actually, it seems to be applicable to people under 17 as well, but the punishment is different if you violate it.

Here's more on Michigan's laws regarding stalking. Andrew WK's story doesn't seem to suit the conditions.

Additionally, according to this page, most PPO's expire after six months or a year, and must be extended every time they expire. Additionally, the person served with a POP can challenge it 14 days after he is served.

I'm revising my opinion on this, having read the guy's story more closely. I think it's a lie, and it's a halfhearted one, but, more than that, I don't like that it suggests that Michigan law is so reactionary that it will just hand out restraining orders willie-nilly, without any real evidence of threat, or that Michigan schools are so bizarre in their management that an official might hold onto a recording for a year and then, without explanation, pass it on to the girl its about just to freak her out. It's a ridiculous story, and restraining orders and stalking and threats of violence aren't really the sorts of things I like people to lie about in order to move product.

Badly played, Andrew WK. If you're going to engage in some self-mythologizing, try to be a bit more mature about it, and learn how to tell a fucking lie.

And what the fuck, Guardian? Fact check your shit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:29 AM on April 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't think it's necessary to do such gymnastics, Koeselitz.

Something can be wholly ironic in intention, or wholly sincere, or—and this should be particularly obvious for anyone paying attention to popular media in the last decade, especially after that whole "Irony is Dead" 9/11 nonsense, a mixture of sincere and ironic. In some ways, it's a cop-out, affording a way to endorse something without having to stand behind all the implications of that endorsement, in other ways it's like making intelligent pop music, where the irony works like a hook to bring you to a deeper sincerity.

But I haven't read Schopenhauer nor Schlegel, so perhaps this idea isn't tied to the last decade at all…
posted by klangklangston at 11:32 AM on April 12, 2010


Klang.. who was dean at community back then???
posted by HuronBob at 11:35 AM on April 12, 2010


According to Wikipedia, it was Judy Conger. I have a feeling nobody contacted her to verify the details of the story.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:40 AM on April 12, 2010


Yeah, Dean Judy.

That was, I think, her second year after Dean Bob had left, and the year she forced through block scheduling—which wouldn't have been so bad if she hadn't given us a vote on it, a vote in which it was roundly defeated (despite claims of making it easier to concurrently take college classes, it actually made it harder, and was basically all a sop to the Foundations of Science program), and then she declared that the vote was merely advisory and she went ahead and did it anyway.

Dean Judy was terrible for Commie, having never worked in the open schools and being generally antagonistic to their philosophy.
posted by klangklangston at 11:43 AM on April 12, 2010


Phone records showing that he was calling multiple times in addition to the creepy song lyrics could have made a decent case that he was stalking her, resulting in a restraining order. And the quality of the recording and the apparent age of his voice could mean that the song has been re-recorded recently. I think it's bullshit, but it's slightly plausible.
posted by stavrogin at 11:48 AM on April 12, 2010


He says the tape made its way into her hands a year later. That undermines the plausibility, unless he's claiming he called her a few times just before she got the tapes, which I didn't get from the article. And just calling doesn't constitute stalking, unless there was something explicitly threatening in his calls, which he also doesn't mention.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 AM on April 12, 2010


I SMELL A MEFI MUSIC CHALLENGE!

OH PLEASE YES.
posted by davejay at 11:57 AM on April 12, 2010


I don't understand any of this, nor any of you. And I don't even have a lawn goddammit!
posted by aramaic at 11:58 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first song I ever "wrote", in my second year of college or thereabouts, squatting on the living room floor in the middle of the night, playing with my roommate's drum machine and bass guitar plugged into my old TASCAM 4-track. I recorded the whole thing (sans lyrics), then sung each line as I thought of something to sing, pausing the recording every line or two to think of something else.
The candle left a waxy stain
I followed you out in the rain
You said that this was not the time
I sung you songs by Patsy Cline

The letters that I wrote and sent
Came back to me all torn and bent
You [?] you kill you thrill you maim
You tell me that I can't complain

You said you'd marry me tomorrow
You've got the leash so I must follow
My friends have all become yours too
I can't go out without thinking of you

I sing you songs and write you letters
And it doesn't make me feel better
I wish that you would write or call
I wish that you would write or call
I wish that you would write or call
I wish that you would write or call

I stole your journal and I keep it locked up in my closet
At night I take it out and write my name in black upon it

The candle left a waxy stain
I followed you out in the rain
You said that this was not the time
I fall to pieces one more time
I fall to pieces one more time
I fall to pieces one more time
Ironically, I was in a good, healthy relationship at the time. I was going for pathetic love-struck goth, for fun, but I didn't expect something so incredibly awful to come out. And now I share it with you, you lucky devils.

Nothing like that lovely humble feeling. potch, I post this knowing you're gonna give me shit about this, but I regret nothing!
posted by davejay at 12:06 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


He doesn't say when or if he stopped calling her and hanging up. And whether or not something is truly stalking doesn't matter, as long as the judge buys that it's stalking.
posted by stavrogin at 12:14 PM on April 12, 2010


It's possible she made the case that he was stalking her, although I find it unlikely. But he also somehow managed to get a double secret "juvenile restraining order" that's not mentioned in any Michigan law texts I could find, that last three to six times longer than an adult restraining order, and seemingly can't be challenged, as an adult order (which, according to the law I linked to, applied to a 17-year-old) can be.

Nothing about this makes sense.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:36 PM on April 12, 2010


Is it worth the trouble figuring out who 'Andrew WK' is? Or am I just going to feel my lawn's been trampled for no good reason at all?
posted by From Bklyn at 12:50 PM on April 12, 2010


WHEN IT'S TIME TO MARKET WE WILL MARKET HARD
posted by benzenedream at 1:34 PM on April 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Astro Zombie: a double secret "juvenile restraining order" that's not mentioned in any Michigan law texts I could find

It exists to exactly the same extent that Andew WK exists.
posted by The Bellman at 1:39 PM on April 12, 2010


stavrogin wrote: "apparent age of his voice"

I have no dog in this fight, but I'd just like to point out that the "age of his voice" is pretty unreliable. I sound little different than I did when my voice deepened (even more than it already had) when I was 15. Now I sound like a stupid sack of meat.

I think the first time I had it explained to me was when I was 10 or 11 and a teacher tried to impress upon me why it seemed to me like I was always the one getting in trouble for talking in class, despite the relative rarity of my disruptive behavior compared to others. She said to me: "Your voice is deep, so it carries a long way and I can hear it all the way in the front of the class." She then went on to explain to me how yes, it wasn't fair that other people could get away with it due to their genetics, but that life is often unfair and I'd better get used to it.

Miss Titsworth, you are still awesome.
posted by wierdo at 7:08 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no idea whether the recording is real or not, but I can add to the "don't judge it based on his voice" chorus. By the time I was 14, people on the phone were already mistaking me for my dad. Yeah, his singing voice at 17 was a lot better than mine, but from what I've read about Andrew WK (and I've read plenty), by that age he'd been making music for years.

It is worth pointing out that he never specifies whether the version we hear is the same as the one he recorded in high school. It's possible that he wrote and recorded the song then, lost (or destroyed out of embarrassment) his copy, and subsequently rerecorded it.
posted by learn to read at 9:04 PM on April 12, 2010


And what the fuck, Guardian? Fact check your shit.

We don't tend to have 'fact checkers' in the UK - just libel lawyers.
posted by mippy at 1:49 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


As I have suggested before on the blue, all these discrepancies with Andrew WK's stories about himself can be explained very easily: He is a time traveler. He did in fact write this song for his girlfriend as part of his senior project in high school. IN THE FUTURE!

posted by KingEdRa at 12:00 PM on April 13, 2010


A few days later, he posted a follow-up song and story, in case you needed any closure on the possibly-fictional story of him and his teenage restraining order. I think the song holds up by itself, though.
posted by Copronymus at 9:38 AM on May 8, 2010


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