There’s this song by Frank Zappa called “Tryin’ to Grow a Chin.” One line in it,
If Simmons was here, I could feature my hurt
refers to former member of Zappa’s band, Jeff Simmons–often the butt of Zappa’s jokes–who wanted to play more of his own material so he could “feature my hurt”; that is, bare his soul in the grand, Romantic tradition of artistes like Byron and Beethoven . . . at least, in Zappa’s terminology.
Not that there’s anything wrong with conveying emotion in art. That’s one of art’s core functions, after all. And although we see ugliness, inscrutability, and contempt for the audience as an intellectual shorthand for what makes art “art,” there is also a component of giving the audience what they want. And contra the sensitive types, there is no shame in this whatsoever. Most artists actually want to make a living, after all. Luckily for them, a lot of what the audience wants is for our artists and entertainers to feature their hurt so we can reflect on it, commiserate, and hopefully work through it.
Another apropos line of the Zappa song, itself a parody of teenage angst, is the end refrain:
I wanna be dead,
In bed please kill me
‘Cause that would thrill me
It might have just been a bit of Zappa-esque off-hand humor, a throwaway line that just sounded funny (Zappa reportedly hated writing lyrics), but it actually runs deeper than you think.
Look at the word “thrill.” That’s what we get when we can “bare our soul” and “feature our hurt.”
Because you see, it’s not really about other people. It’s about us. Continue reading “Feature Their Hurt”