The Soundtrack To A Shattered Self Image

When I was growing up, what you heard at the supermarket (besides “price check on Boo Berry please!”) was usually Muzak. And if it wasn’t Muzak, it was some other equally nausea-inducing crap that the supermarket radio programmers thought would appeal to old people like, say, my parents. The oldest, least cool people I knew.

And then there was music used in commercials: tune into CBS or some other network aimed at the geriatric set and you’d get treated to ads for adult underpants and, ironically, stuff that helps you poo, the music bed for which would inevitably be some 40’s throwback thing that would appeal to the targetet consumer. Old music for old people: just the way it was supposed to be.

Then, a few years ago, that fucking cruise line decided to start messing with the status quo and used the song “Lust For Life” in their ads. I don’t know about you, but Iggy Pop doesn’t belong in an ad for cruise lines in any world I want to live in.

Because look: Lust For Life is a great album (I’ve still got a copy on vinyl I bought in a record store in London in 1981), but people that aren’t cool aren’t supposed to know that. So on what planet would they use the music in an ad for something as lame as going on a cruise?

There was only one way to explain it: the people that recognized the song certainly didn’t know the rest of the album, therefore are poseurs, therefore aren’t cool, therefore probably do go on cruises, therefore my status as cooler than them was intact.

But then there was the Buzzcocks incident. Another great band from my past, and they popped up on a television commercial one night. Not necessarily a disaster, so I looked up at the TV to see what very cool company was using them in their ad.

AARP. AAR fucking P. The Buzzcocks and AARP are like matter and anti-matter: existing in the same space at the same time risks destroying the universe (or at least my deluded vision of my place in the universe) , so I assumed that I must have been slipped a hearty dose of acid and had hallucinated the entire event.

All the same, hallucination or not, this was a disturbing trend. I mean, it’s one thing to hear Elvis Costello at Home Depot, but it’s quite another to hear, as I did just a few nights ago, Echo and the Bunnymen at the supermarket.

I was pushing my cart down an aisle considering some frozen delights when it came on, driving any thoughts of an icy treat from my head. I love Echo, but they were never as mainstream as Elvis, and there’s no way they belong in a Publix in Palm Beach County (I keep telling myself the same is true about me).

But tonight, things got even worse for someone trying desperately to prop up what increasingly appears to be a fairly distorted view of himself.

Because tonight, while I was at Publix picking up a few things for some meat sauce, the unthinkable happened. The Ramones came on. To be specific: “I Wanna Be Sedated.”

“How very apropos,” I thought as I reached for a few vicodin and watched the last vestiges of my shattered self image get mopped up by a middle aged guy that worked there.


  1. jo


    what can I say? I’d like to think that instead of believing the obvious (we are getting fucking OLD), maybe the advertising creatives are the hip ones and are given more freedom.

    Yeah, I’m going with that.


  2. Robey

    It’s no secret that music is important to the purchasing experience. “Gouge Away” was playing at the coffee shop the other day and it gave me a chance to tell the youngsters about how the Pixies and that song in particular were a huge influence on Kurt Cobain. But sometimes it can be downright wierd. Like the time the original Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was piped in to the lobby of a Marriott in El Paso. I looked around at my colleagues and the other guests and nobody seemed to take notice. It was muzak to them. My guess is that some subversive in the home office was sending a big fuck you to all the business travelers and maybe also saying hi to me. Of course I’m sitting in a Marriott lobby as I write this and the pap coming from the speakers is so non-descript I had to stop for a moment to see if music was actually playing. So I’d rather have something objectionable and memorable than the grandma stuff. Which reminds me of the time in 1969 when my own grandma complained in the supermarket that they were playing the music too loud. It was “Ooh Child.” 40 years later I still remember it…um, what was my point?

    1. Brad

      And you know, my experience with the young people that work at coffee shops is that they love it when I wax rhapsodic about music from before they were born. They think I’m really cool when I do that.

    2. robiewankenobie

      i’m sorry…joy division as muzak? imma gonna go cry now.

  3. Joanna


    you are



    1. Brad

      That was said honestly and seriously. I just know it.

  4. Joanna

    you know it

  5. Teresa

    Well, you had me snorting out water through my nose with your matter-anti-matter comparison.

    I have no hypothesis of my own to offer, but did note that (as you noted yourself) if you’re in a Publix in SoFL, and you consider yourself cool, why can’t Echo?

  6. Ganry77

    I’d been curious about the novel, plus it seemed appropriate. ,

  7. keith k

    It can vary from instance to instance how I feel. When I heard recently an Absolut commercial using Ceremony, a song written by Joy Division and recorded by New Order, I felt betrayed and old. Sacred music.

    When I heard The Fall’s “Blindness” used for a car commercial I thought Hell Yeah! The world is finally coming around to my way of thinking, that’s an awesome driving song, and I’m glad The Fall is getting paid.

    Here’s New Order doing Ceremony
    Here’s the Fall doing Blindness

  8. Coder40

    However, we cannot afford to be complacent. ,


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *