Friday, December 07, 2007

Tonio K.

This man is shooting a toilet. I like that.

His name is Steve Krikorian, but he's known in the music world as Tonio K., a name boldly copped from a Thomas Mann short story called "Tonio Kroger." As a teenager he played in Buddy Holly's old band The Crickets, but Buddy had been dead for about fifteen years by that point, and young, impressionable Steve was probably scarred for life by a touring regimen featuring a Buddy Holly impersonator performing old rock 'n roll hits in dive bars and juke joints. Wouldn't you be?

At any rate, he emerged twisted. His first proper album was called Life in the Foodchain and was released in 1978. It's one of the best albums ever made. I'm not kidding. It's funny. It's sad. It's killer rock 'n roll. It's razor-sharp social commentary. And it's evidence of a questing spirit, somebody looking for truth. There are a million and one breakup songs out there. But this is the funniest one, and the one that still sounds closest to actual experience to me:

now i know it's not unusual
it's nothing so unique
there's probably hundreds of wonderful love affairs
that go bad in this town every week
(it's a big town)
but all of them others
them sad-hearted lovers
could cry in their beer, what the hey
it didn't concern me
was none of my business
i never had nothin' to say
but suddenly darlin' the table has turned
you have left me for somebody new
and now it's hard to express the resentment i feel
for the years that i've wasted on you

but let me put this another way ... ok?

i'm full of h-a-t-r-e-d
i'm bitter and malign
you've got me p-i-s-s-e-d off
i'm angry most of the time
why don't you g-o t-o h-e-double"l"
you tramp you philandering bitch
i'm going to k-i-l-l one of us baby
give me time and i'll decide on which

i know i'm acting immature
i know i'm acting like a child
i should display some self-control
instead of going wild like this
and i do wish i could accept all this
as simply "life" which includes pain
and act upon the actual fact
that nobody's to blame
yes i wish i was as mellow as for instance jackson browne
but "fountain of sorrow" my ass motherfucker
i hope you wind up in the ground

i'm so full of h-a-t-r-e-d
i'm bitter and malign
you've got me p-i-s-s-e-d off
i'm angry most of the time
why don't you g-o t-o h-e-double"l"
you tramp you philandering bitch
i'm going to k-i-l-l one of us baby
when i'm sober i'll decide on which
(but then again, maybe with the proper counseling,
we can work this out)

I'm full of H-A-T-R-E-D
What's that spell?
What's that spell?
-- Tonio K., "H-A-T-R-E-D"

Don't look for that on Praise 'n Worship radio. But I truly appreciate the fact that Tonio, best known as a Christian recording artist, will claim that that song was written when he was a Christian. Hey, Christians have bad days and bad years too. About ten years later he was writing songs like this. It's considerably more restrained, but no less powerful. The guy just writes truth, and all of his albums are worth tracking down.

you've been a prisoner
been a prisoner all your life
held captive in an alien world
where they hold your need for love to your throat like a knife
and they make you jump
and they make you do tricks
they take what started off such an innocent heart
and they break it and break it and break it
until it almost can't be fixed

well i don't know when
and i don't know how
i don't know how long it's gonna take
i don't know how hard it will be
but i know you will go free

now you can call it the devil
call it the big lie
call it a fallen world
whatever it is, it ruins almost everything we try
it's the sins of the fathers
it's the choices we make
it's people screaming without making a sound
from these prison cells in paradise where we're chained to our mistakes

well i don't know when
and i don't know how
i don't know how much it's gonna cost you
probably everything
but i know you will go free

you can't see the jailer
you can't see the bars
you can't turn your head around fast enough
but it's everywhere you are
it's all around you
and everywhere you walk these prison walls surround you

but in the midst of all this darkness
in the middle of this night
i see the truth cut through this curtain like a laser
like a pure and holy light
and i know i can't touch you now
and i don't want to speak too soon
but when we get sprung
from out of these cages baby
god knows what we might do

well i don't know when
and i don't know how
i don't know if you'll be leaving alone
or if you'll be leaving with me
but i know you will go free
i know the truth will set you free

the truth about who you are
the truth about who you were always meant to be
-- Tonio K., "You Will Go Free"


mosiacmind said...

I really enjoy how you share music on your blog. I hear about people who I do not know. I wondered how you are feeling these days. I hope that Kate and you have a great weekend. If you think about it and if not I will most likely see Kate at church on Sunday but my friend's daughter Autumn is dropping out of Kent after this semester. It makes me and her parents quite sad.

Jonny said...

a long time ago a pen pal sent me some tapes of the music of Tonio K-after reading your entry I am going to go dig them out to listen to-"crookedfingers" LiveJournal

Jonny said...

A long time ago a pen pal sent me some music tapes containing the music of Tonio K-I plan to go look for them today after reading your entry about his music-"crookedfingers" LiveJournal

Anonymous said...

Andy Whitman: I have been reading Paste Mag for some time now and have noticed that you have impeccable musical taste (because it closely matches mine!) so I thought I would let you know of an amazing band I have been listening to lately Big Eagle. I first heard of them through, then researched them trying to find their CD, but they are still a small group out of huge L.A.

I am trying to get the word out for Big Eagle because I think they sound better than almost any new band I have heard since Whiskeytown. I am no way affiliated with the group, but just blown away by their sound and ability.

I hope you are also.

scott eagan

Anonymous said...

Andy, You need to hear this band:

I first heard them through
I would really like to see this band make it because they sound better than any other band I have heard in the last 5 years.

Living the Biblios said...

I love Tonio K! My favorite tune of his was from obscure soundtrack, a song that goes something, "I'm supposed to have sex with you. We'll have the sex now." Funny biting commentary on how sex got turned into a commodity. Any idea what he's doing today?

Videoman said...

can anybody point me to tonio k guitar tab site,

Martin said...

um ... Andy ... I hate to disappoint, but it's actually Nick van Maarth shooting the toilet there. Tonio? Tonio would never do that.

Verification word for this comment is "oulcodgy," which is how I'm beginning to feel on some of these winter days.

Anonymous said...