Badly Drawn Boy hits jackpot

If there is any justice in the world, Badly Drawn Boy is the wealthiest musician alive. It’s not that he is my favorite performer. I have never seen him in a live setting and I don’t own any of his recordings, although I did spend a bit of time with the first few tracks from this year’s “About a Boy” soundtrack.

His is the perfect blend of the intimate songwriting and skillful arranging of Elliott Smith mixed with the bland and forgettable style of Dave Matthews. If this isn’t selling albums to college kids, everything I thought I knew about the music industry is wrong.

I would never hesitate to defend Badly Drawn Boy’s Damon Gough with a hearty accolade of the song “Once Around The Block” from the 2000 album Hour of Bewilderbeast. It is a fabulously catchy pop song with creative accompaniment moving along to a sprightly rhythm. It is a delightful piece, I’m sure.

I remember well the several times I have heard it playing. It could make talking with anyone a memorable social experience. Of course, I can’t for the life of me remember how it goes. Often in these situations, I’m sure I stopped and listened to the music for a moment, appreciated the intricacies of it, probably exchanged nods with another member of the party confirming what a stellar piece of musical work it was. Then it ended and was stuck in my head for the entire two seconds before the next track began and it was lost.

It is easy to see how the whole “college lifestyle” is conducive to social interaction. What are the essentials in your typical college living environment? Beer. Living rooms with more couches than needed to accommodate the inhabitants of the house. The brown Stereolab album. Though none of these are bad things by any means, they are all being used primarily as social conduits, and any other value is secondary.

While the only social interaction Dave Matthews ever promoted in my group was a livid haranguing or a simple communal cringe, I can see how he is working his business among the others. If a musician is integral to a group of friends, they will be attending his concerts not in twos or fours but in twelves and sixteens.

That is why Damon Gough should be the wealthiest musician alive. While his music works the same social magic as Matthews, his songs are also honest and brilliantly conceived masterpieces, attracting those who need a little incentive to follow the herd.

Joining Badly Drawn Boy will be Adam Green of the Moldy Peaches, playing a solo set. The Peaches’ much-publicized use of costume in their live presentation is only a small part of their charm, as Green’s set, costumed or not, will probably make clear.