Jamchild and Rico D. Bool, at the height of their fame in Shorty Long's basement.
One of the most iconic songs of the Change Music songbook, Fame represents both our typical delusions of grandeur and the farcical absurdity that we mixed in our approach to music. Inasmuch as Jambox was a punk band before any of us had ever heard of punk, this song is completely punk in all the ways that I later found appealing in punk.
First, there's the fact that we didn't really have any kind of ear for what we were playing together, and didn't really care. I admit that it perplexed and bothered me that what I heard in my head came out as thunderous chaotic noise when we played together, but I was never the leader type and couldn't tell anyone else in the band what to play or how to play it. Then there's the idea that we were actually making fun of ourselves for playing music and trying to be famous, by pretending that we were already famous in our minds.
This jokey approach to music grew in me to become a lifelong bias towards regarding fame as something highly personal rather than monolithic and universal. After the first hollow chuckles at the stupidity of a bunch of drunken hippies caterwauling about their so-called "fame" die away, the idea behind the conception of fame as something everyone has - a very punk rock idea, to my mind - starts to grow.
The people who are famous to me include a long list of the usual celebrities and geniuses. But the most famous people I know are the ones I actually know. In my world, the local bands I love are just as famous as the Who or the Beatles to me. Fame is actually an elastic and subjective description for anything I choose to give my attention to. When you pay attention to me, I feel the tiny twinge of fame you give me, and when I pay attention to you, you feel the tiny homage of fame from me.
I hope for a day when celebrity and fame become more and more local. I see no reason why we should give the precious gift of our attention to a handful of strangers in far away places when we have so much talent and entertainment right here in our own town. This especially seems truer and truer in these days, because the sheer amount of great stuff out there is almost impossible to acknowledge. In a time of 1,000 flowers, I prefer to give my attention to the flowers closest by, because they are the easiest to see and belong to me.
Download the supremely silly Fojammathon version of Fame to see what I always wished it would sound like. I'm quite proud of my odd guitar solo in this one.