Dave Bidini eviscerates Bryan Adams in print for jamming with Canada’s über-right-wing prime minister
The decor at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s residence in Ottawa is almost as bad as the very fact of this distasteful event, which – can this really have happened? Happened in actual reality? It is known that Bruce Allen, Adams’ manager, is as right-wing as it’s possible to be and still be in full-time music, so he’s probably behind this. Who knows, he may even own a matching kitchen-y floral curtain and Victorian lamppost sconce set. But why did Adams feel he needed to agree to this fiasco? Here is the public response of Dave Bidini, prominent writer and musician of Rheostatics fame, in the National Post.
Dear Mr. Adams,
Really, you had to do that? You had to jam with Stephen Harper? Are you so desperate to get your picture in the paper that you were able to reconcile being part of the “humanization” of a Prime Minister who refuses to recognize the international right of women to choose and who pushes a military-first and law and order agenda and whose environmental policies have become the great laughing clownface of the anti-global warming movement? Are you so desperate to play with people other than your band-mates that you accepted an invitation from a hack piano player whose only gig was approximating With A Little Help From My Friends with the NAC? Or did you solicit invitations from other world leaders? Was Kim Jong-il’s son busy? What in God’s name did you hope to gain by “jamming” with Stephen Harper? Did you forget that you are supposed to be a free-minded artist from the West Coast who, in the past, has supported environmentally conscious organizations and lent their time to raising African awareness and worked with Amnesty International. Man, you played LIVE AID! Remember? I watched your performance live from Philadelphia in a bar in Dublin. It was raining and I was walking around with my friend, Mary, and she said, “That one’s Canadian, too, right?” and, I wanted to say, “Ya, but he’s commercial and he kinda sucks,” but then you rocked hard and sang all raspy and gravel-voiced and it was easy to say, with a tremor, of pride, “Ya, Canadian. West Coast. He’s really into it, isn’t he?” We watched you and then we moved on, walking around Dublin all night, passing through pubs and houses watching Led Zeppelin play and then Dylan and Keith Richards, though who the hell knows what they were doing. I remember U2’s set, and I remember Neil Young’s, cause Mary asked if he was Canadian, too. And I remember you. And now you’re jamming with Stephen Harper.
What gives, Bryan? Have you gone crazy? Have you chosen to be Toby Keith instead of will.i.am? Have you crossed over to the dark side? Have you? Really, have you? And is it true that you played Run to You? Did that really happen? Did you not see the obviousness in the lyrics of the song? Did you not see that it showed you kneeling at the heel of the most powerful man in Canada like some kind of popstar lickspittle? Did you not understand that as a famous Canadian rock ’n’ roll singer you don’t ever have to do that? Let Justin Bieber do that; not you. You don’t have to answer to any politician — especially this one — because you’ve been down there, man; you’ve seen the shit, worked your way through it; and they should be coming to jam with you, not the other way around. They should be lining up outside your door, begging you for your support. And then, you should walk away from them free and unbound and wild, which is what you once were, but aren’t any longer, and haven’t been for a long time, I guess. A sellout, man. A total sellout, that’s what you are. A sellout who hangs around with politicians. Summer of 69, my ass. It’s the summer of money, and you’re desperate for anyone to notice you. Why, Bryan? Why?
Someone once told me that you poured a beer over Paul Weller’s head, but I didn’t believe them. Now, I’m not so sure. Is this what you’ve become? OK, you might not have been Pete Seegar or Billy Bragg — or, OK, Paul Weller — but still, something about your best songs were supposed to represent defiance and youthful righteousness and danger, but now what? Was it all just a ruse? Did you not mean any of it? If you could take back that visit to 24 Sussex, would you? Do you have any misgivings about what it means to your fans, or do your fans even care? Does anyone even care? In a world where young bands are falling over themselves to get their song played in a Nivea cream or Hyundai automobile or Molson beer commercial, maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. Maybe rock ’n’ roll was all just one big lie and if it can’t count on the likes of people like yourself who’ve constructed their lives and their art around the belief in rock ’n’ roll, then what chance does it have anyway? Maybe Damian Abraham of F—ed Up or Gordon Downie or Corb Lund will form a band with Jim Flaherty and John Baird and they’ll tour the country behind a laughing clownface banner giving out free cans of Alberta oil singing classic Canadian rock covers; you know, songs from the good old FM radio days, back when everything was good and easy and light-hearted and fine.
But I doubt it. I think you’re alone on this, Bryan. Still, maybe that’s what you want. Maybe it’s where you’ve wanted to be, after all of these years of pretending.