Monday, August 07, 2006


I spent the latter part of last night (a euphemism for being out drinking) listening to some early Bill Hicks. I was familiar only with his later stuff, recorded in 1991 or 92, shortly before his death. This other material, from about three years before that if one is to judge by the references to Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, is even more abrasive than the later stuff. One gets the impression that even Hicks felt the need to tone down the more potentially defamatory comments once he got a big following. In this recording he outed George Michael ten years before the LAPD did; perhaps not the most ground-breaking observation but few did so on the record.

My friend Tony, who played me the Hicks tapes, pointed out something that I never noticed before: Hicks' similarity to an evangelist. It is true: his rhetorical flourishes and his periodic raising of the voice suggest that he should be winning people over to the Good Book. You can take the man out of Georgia but you can't take Georgia out of the man. Of course, Hicks was as much formed by being one of a generation of angry, cynical, post-baby-boom kids that suddenly saw the liberties and culture that the previous generation took for granted begin to disappear as conformism crept back in under Reagan. God knows what he would make of the America of Bush, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and Tom deLay. He'd get some good material out of it anyway.