Is Super Bowl hysteria on the wane yet? Doesn't seem like it. People are still wetting their pants about what a Brazilian supermodel had to say about the shoddy performance of her quarterback husband's teammates and how aghast they were that M.I.A. flipped the bird at the half-time show (isn't that why you invite M.I.A. places to begin with?) Meanwhile, the Giants are being feted as if they collectively destroyed Al Qaeda and found a cure for cancer. Can't we all move on?
Well, since it's obviously not over yet, and I already got my big, cloyingly sanctimonious post about it out of the way, here's one about the other thing at the Super Bowl that really took a giant crap in my coffee. I should point out that I didn't see it air in real time, because -- SURPRISE -- I wasn't watching the fucking Super Bowl, but it was all over the place the next day. And now I must throw in my two cents. I'm talking, of course, about the Budweiser ad below.
I wrote a big, windy post about my love for The Cult back in 2006, so if you really need to read a laboriously overwritten rumination about their greatness and endearing ludicrousness, click right here. If you feel the urge to skip that trek down memory lane, I completely understand and forgive you. Just know that my first hearing of “She Sells Sanctuary” by the Cult, in the long lost summer of 1985, lodged itself firmly in my brain as something so devoid of any semblance of flaw that it’s almost as if the gods themselves crafted it. As a song, it was and remains a crystalline slice of chiming rock excellence. You may beg to differ, but you’d be wrong to, of course.
The Cult went on to explore many hills and valleys in the quality department and experimented with a variety of sounds and accompanying hairstyles, even managing to crank out a clutch of sturdy, memorable cuts along the way. But never again (or, at least, not as yet) have they attained the heights they so effortlessly scaled with "She Sells Sanctuary" (although, to be fair, "Rain" and "Wild Flower" are both unimpeachably sublime). Even if they never again recorded a note of music or treaded manfully onto another concert stage for the rest of their days, the greatness of their legacy remains captured like a foppish goth mosquito imprisoned in amber by the brilliance that is "She Sells Sanctuary."
But, the cruel march of time goads many into needlessly fucking things up.
This isn't the first time "She Sells Sanctuary" has leant its aural splendor to the cause of advertising. A few years back, it was utilized for a car commercial (although I'm hard pressed to name the brand). This one, however, stings a bit more and for a variety of reasons.
For a start -- and let's clear this up right away -- BUDWEISER ISN'T EVEN A DECENT BEER! To quote the Cult's fellow countryman, Michael Palin, drinking Budweiser is somewhat akin to having sex in a canoe -- it's fucking close to water. I'm not suggesting for a moment that I haven't slain entire cases of the stuff in my day, but the discerning beer-drinker usually opts for Bud only in those tragic instances wherein there is no other choice.
Secondly, I realize it has become the dominant musical and cultural force in the last few decades, but must we hip-hoppify absolutely everything? Must EVERY bit of music now come clunkily appended with some jackass with a microphone blabbering over it like an auctioneer on crack? I'm not categorically damning hip hop (although it's been something of a damn long time since I heard a rapper who was genuinely doing anything new with the genre), but can't we just leave certain things alone? Must everything be "mashed-up"?
This certainly isn't the first time I've gotten bent out of shape about this song. I was once emphatically discouraged by some friends of mine from pursuing an argument in an East Village bar back in the early 90s that surely would have ended in fisticuffs, spilled drinks and tears after some rube unsolicitedly offered his opinion that "She Sells Sanctuary" was just a thin re-write of Rush's "Closer to the Heart." You could see flames shooting out of my ears. Ironically, I adore Rush.
To some, I'm obviously sounding way too precious about something entirely trivial. Ultimately and despite the high emotions, it's all simply entertainment, at the end of the day (even the Super Bowl), and god knows there are incalculably larger fish to be fried. Moreover, pop songs have been licensed out to commercials now for decades -- it's hardly a new phenomenon. That doesn't make it right, but it's certainly nothing new. But, again, for many of us -- the pairing of something that prompts so many visceral, life-affirming emotions with the shoddy trappings and implied associations of commerce is a painful thing. For me, "She Sells Sanctuary" means more than Budweiser, breakdancing and :::::cough, spit:::: the fucking Super Bowl. No, "She Sells Sanctuary" doesn't belong to me (although I suppose it doesn't belong to Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy anymore either), but that doesn't mean it deserves to be bludgeoned, manhandled, buggered and re-packaged to appeal to the Ke$ha generation.
Please. Leave it alone.