Scene and Herd by Doug “Igoto” Dresher
Chuck Prophet seems like a really happy fella. The kind of fella that helps a neighbor cut down a tree, or dog sits when you go away for the weekend.
Chuck Prophet also seems like the kind of guy that can remember every word and every note from every song he has ever heard. He exudes the confidence of a guy who could kick your ass in music trivia and then pick up the tab.
Part story-teller, part preacher, a relative of both Ray Davies, Randy Newman, and distant cousins of Bob Dylan (from the 1975 era) and Brian Wilson, and finally, perhaps even delivered the papers to Johnny Cash.
Chuck Prophet is funkier than Beck – so much so that Prophet has nothing to prove. And that is why we love him.
I recently had the opportunity to see him perform solo at an Asbury Park benefit concert. He was the only performer that didn’t sound like Springsteen, and that was refreshing.
There are two kinds of tragedies in this life. The first is the serious kind, the kind that touches upon world hunger and war. The other kind is a more social crime – and I present it to you in this context.
IT IS A TRAGEDY (OF THE LESSER KIND) THAT CHUCK PROPHET ISN’T MORE WELL KNOWN.
There I said it. His music, with his band, The Mission Express, should be what we hear every cycle of songs on Z100 or Hot 95.
Let me provide an example:
Top song as of April 3, 2017 – lyrics:
Shape of You
Ed Sheridan –
The club isn’t the best place to find a lover
So the bar is where I go
Me and my friends at the table doing shots
Drinking fast and then we talk slow
Come over and start up a conversation with just me
And trust me I’ll give it a chance now
Take my hand, stop, put Van the Man on the jukebox
And then we start to dance, and now I’m singing like
Wait. Okay, that was a bad example. Those lyrics are passably literate.
Let’s dig deeper in the morass of Top 40 radio…
Featuring Ty Dolla $ign & Nicki Minaj
Shimmy shimmy shimmy yay, shimmy yah
Bad girls gon’ swalla-la-la
Bust down on my wrist in this bitch
My pinky-ring bigger than his
Met her out in Beverly Hills, ay
Dolla got too many girls, ay
Met her out in Beverly Hills
All she wear is red bottom heels
When she back it up, put it on the Snap
When she droppin’ low, put it on the Gram
DJ poppin’, she gon’ swallow that
Champagne poppin’, she gon’ swallow that
How do we even parse that such crap can be listened to when Chuck (you don’t mind of I call you Chuck?) writes:
Who put the “bomp” in the bomp-shooby-dooby-bomp?
Who put the “ram” in the rama-lama-ding-dong?
Okay – not Carl Sandburg, but much more sincere than what is generally available.
You will have to trust me, listen to any twofer of Chuck Prophet and you will hear wonderful words written by an articulate and thoughtful artist.
We sat there exposed
to the wind and the thunder
Chilled to the bone
You kissed me goodbye
And I called God a liar
We snuck off like thieves
with our backs to each other
After the rain
Uncle Ray would be proud.
I had the chance to see Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express at World Café Live, in Philadelphia. Prophet opened the doors to his church and invited the audience in. We were cleansed in the word and then gently lifted back into the world. At one point in the show Prophet was trying to get the audience to participate in one of his mid-song conversations with the crowd. When the audience didn’t respond well enough, Prophet offered, “Come on fellas, this isn’t that complicated!”
And he was right.
This is a difficult time and we live in a complex world. He offers that life is filled with challenges. He needs us to wish him luck. Without that he cannot continue to preach the “word.”
Unlike snake oil salesmen who ask for your money to ensure your ascension to heaven, unlike the used car salesman who tells you his word is his promise, while you finance your car at such a high rate you will have to sell it just to afford the monthly payments, unlike our president who tweets his lies in hopes you believe his endless river of bullshit – all Chuck Prophet needs is you to wish him luck. And perhaps we only need to know that if we just wish each other luck, some may just rub off on us all.
Who put the “Who put the “ram” in the rama-lama-ding-dong?”
Thank you Chuck.
Chuck Prophet and his band have been touring in support of his bajillionth album, “Bobby Fuller died for your Sins.” Listening to the album is like being baptized in the word and salvation of rock and roll –
Driving down the highway with the top down
Listening to Johnny Cash
Talking with your friends about Ray Davies and judging the truthfulness of the operatic voice of mid-1970s Bob Dylan.
Have some photos
Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express – Live Review 2017 by Doug “Igoto” Dresher