November 11, 2004

The Pretty Toney Column: Joy Division

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One of my grandest ambitions is to someday become a famous musician. I’ve written hundreds of songs in the last year alone, and this semester I’ve recorded roughly fifty of them onto my computer, using nothing but the crappy microphone my computer came with and the guitar I stole from my housemate.

True, I may be the only person to have heard my music thus far, but my plan for artistic immortality is foolproof. Why? Because after I pare all of my material down to a singular, introspectively brilliant opus, I’m going to snort cocaine by the fistful until my brains become pure liquid. Then people will be so desperate to learn why I indulged in such self-destructive madness that they’ll buy several million copies of my album, regardless of how unlistenable it is.

In this country, a premature death is the quickest path toward greatness. Everybody knows this. When Kurt Cobain shot himself, he went from talented songwriter to voice-of-a-generation, even though no one knew the words to “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and the chorus of “Lithium” consisted only of the word “yeah.” Artists who die young are always mourned for “what could have been,” but what’s most likely is that their early deaths only kept us from having to endure an inevitable string of mediocrity.

No one has exploited this cultural clich