Famous and Tired

Pop stars complain about their jobs like everyone else. Here's what's happened when some of their gripes have actually made it to tape.

David Cassidy, The Harder They Climb (1975): His first "I'm Famous, I'm Tired" moment came as Keith Partridge in that spoken-word passage from "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted" ("Y'know, I'm no different from anyone else/I start each day and end each night" -- right on, Everyman!), but as David C., he had to wait 'til 1975 to exorcise demons. The cover of this album depicts Cassidy as a rising rock star who crashes and burns a hole in the sidewalk on the rear sleeve. Might've had real impact, too, if girls were still crushing themselves against the stage to see him. File this under "I'm Famous, I'm Tired And I'm Not Selling Records Anymore."

Bob Seger, "Turn the Page" (1976): Was there ever a time when Bob Seger wasn't tired? Seems like he was complaining about feeling like a number even before he was famous. Maybe he wouldn't have minded people pointing at him in airports so much if they didn't keep coming up to him expecting to get Kenny Rogers' autograph.

Led Zeppelin, Presence (1976): Wuzzat? You don't believe the Zeps made that pact with the devil that caused them to be famous for 10 years but very tired for the last four? If you unscramble the letters of "Achilles' Last Stand" it spells "SATAN T' CHILL LED ASS," while "Nobody's Fault But Mine" clearly jumbles into "FLAME IN NOBODY'S BUTT." And only the surviving Zeps can know what this cryptic "For Your Life" anagram means: "YOU FIRE ROLF!"

Led Zeppelin's weary Presence.
Led Zeppelin's weary Presence.
Gene Pitney: Pining for his backstage standby.
Gene Pitney: Pining for his backstage standby.

Queen, News of the World (1977): Part of being famous and tired entails getting pummeled by the press, which the band likens to being crushed and bloodied by a brainless robot on this LP cover. For its double-whammy 45, "We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions," the members of the band flex their supreme muscles (see, look how much money we've made) while making like Charles Atlas recruits who are tired of getting mud and sand facials. Of course, the press misinterprets this as Queen's fascist attitude toward its fans and gives Queen more bad reviews for the scrapbook. If only they had gone after critics by name like Lou Reed did on Take No Prisoners the following year, maybe "anal-retentive toe fuckers" like Robert Christgau would actually like the band pronouncing his name right.

Elton John, "Ego" (1978): Philip Norman's definitive biography describes the superstar's Vesuvian tantrums as Elton's "Little Moments." Here's the one time his "Little Famous and Tired Moment" makes it to wax. He comes out of semi-retirement with a new look (contact lenses and a low-brim hat to hide his not-all-there hair transplant), a new song (a ditty about how everyone's kissing his ass and feeding his ego), and a new video (which looks nothing like Elton John). When the single only goes up to 34, Elton blasts the charts for their "inaccuracy" and threatens to pull all Rocket Records' ads from the trades. Waaah!

Michael Jackson, "Leave Me Alone" (1987): Someone had the bright idea of compiling a stop-action animation video of Wacko Jacko's greatest tabloid moments, from the hyperbaric chamber to Bubbles the Chimp to the Liz Taylor shrine to show that everything we read about Mike is a lie. Maybe actually seeing Michael dancing with the Elephant Man's bones is a form of damage control in the Bizarro world, but then again so is denying child molestation charges and having Macaulay Culken sleepovers.

Nirvana, In Utero (1993): I defy anyone to find three consecutive words in this whole record that don't spell out an unhappy rock star. Even Leonard Cohen gets a heads up!

Sinead O' Connor, Universal Mother (1994): Despite a sleepy cover of Nirvana's famous and tired "All Apologies," everybody's favorite blasphemer didn't come back to say sorry, but rather to stand stock still like Joan of Arc and declare, "My head is not a football for you." Since then, her antics have included denouncing Christianity, becoming a member of the clergy, announcing she's a lesbian and marrying a man. Do you sense a pattern here? Maybe her head really is a football for you!

Kid Rock, "Only God Knows Why" (1998): Kid Rock updates Ricky Nelson's "Teenage Idol" query in an effort to figure out why a rock star still can't find love even after adding a vocoder, a midget, pills to ease his pain and folks that "fuck with me" into the equation. Neither Ozzie nor Harriet would approve of Kid's bad parenting techniques, like watching his youngest son just 'cause "it helps to pass the time."

'N SYNC, Celebrity (2001): The cover is a cross between Sgt. Pepper, Love Gun and Woody Allen's Stardust Memories --the grim teen titans walking on a red carpet through an ugly mob of press, paparazzi and, worst of all -- old people! Justin and the boys can't accept that some people don't like their music and deride, "We got the gift of melody, we're gonna bring it 'til the end," but then Justin blurts out "Oooooh, man, I'm tired of singin'" before the first instrumental break? And on the title track, he complains that he spoils girls by throwing money around and then gets pissed off because they only love him 'cause he's rich and famous. Where's a belligerent Sinatra when we need him?

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