Bill Hicks (1961-1994)


Has it really been ten years? I’m hesitant to boost Hicks because, when people do, the dizzying respect he inspires can easily make them sound like they’re competing to be his Biggest Fan; to claim a piece of his reputation for themselves. He was great, though; Radio One just aired a tribute to him and to Kurt Cobain which, whilst a mildly opportunistic conflation of two very different kinds of anger, did serve as an excellent primer in what one might otherwise be missing. If you missed it (and, speaking probabilistically, you did), then maybe it’s about time you made sure you’d given Dangerous a good listen? (Hey, and Nevermind too...)

I’m kind of touched that his riff on the sheer banality of English crime cited my home town; it’s nice to think that those same Shaftesbury dustbins that didn’t particularly hold my attention also failed to interest Bill Hicks. From Arizona Bay, as transcribed in Love All The People:

You gotta see English crime, if only we had crime like this, you know. It’s hilarious. You don’t know if you’re reading the front page or the comic section over there. I swear to God. I read an article, front page of the paper one day in England: ‘Yesterday some hooligans knocked over a dustbin in Shaftesbury.’

‘The hooligans are loose, the hooligans are loose. What if they become ruffians? I would hate to be a dustbin in Shaftesbury tonight. (singing) No one knows what it’s like to be a dustbin . . . in Shaftesbury . . . with hooligans.’

What the hell are you talking about? Hooligan, ruffian — speak English! It’s Crip, Blood. I mean, I’m sure it’s a serious thing, hooligans, but it just sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Picture a bunch of pale guys with penny loafers and no socks.

(singing) ‘We’re the hooligans.’ (Pop!)
‘Hey, you fucker, come here.’
‘Nope, got to catch us. You corner me, I might become a scallywag.’

You know, it’s— yeah. It doesn’t sound scary at all, does it? They have proper crime there. Yeah, I’d love to put the hooligans up against the Bloods in LA, that would be a . . . a short gang-battle.

(singing)‘We’re the hooligans.’ (Pop!)
(three gunshots) ‘Huh? Hoola something, I didn’t catch it all. Motherfucker danced up to me and patted me on the head. A pale motherfucker, look at that thing.’

It just wouldn’t be a long gang-battle. I’m bettin’ on the Bloods.

(Music: Nirvana, “Breed”)
(More from this year, or the front page? [K])