Monday, November 20, 2006

steve miller

36 x 36, acrylic


Blogger Brad said...

I never understood that part where he said some people called him Maurice because he spoke of the pompitous of love.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Pompitous" mystified millions when Steve Miller used it in his 1973 hit "The Joker": "Some people call me the space cowboy. / Yeah! Some call me the gangster of love. / Some people call me Maurice, / Cause I speak of the Pompitous of love."

"Space cowboy" and "gangster of love" referred to earlier Miller songs. Maurice was from Miller's 1972 tune "Enter Maurice," which appeared on the album "Recall the Beginning ... A Journey From Eden."

"Enter Maurice" had this lyric: "My Dearest Darling, come closer to Maurice so I can whisper / sweet words of epismetology in your ear and speak to you of / the pompitous of love."

Great, now we have two mystery words to track down... What's more, it appeared even Miller himself was uncertain how pompitous was spelled. It appeared as "pompatus" in at least two books of sheet music but as "pompitous" in the lyrics included with "Recall the Beginning."

Miller has said little about the P-word over the years. In at least one interview, fans say, he claimed, "It doesn't mean anything - it's just jive talk." Not quite what researches show.

Some sharp-eared music fan noticed the "Enter Maurice" lyric above bore a marked resemblance to some lines in a rhythm and blues tune called "The Letter" by the Medallions. The song had been a hit in R & B circles in 1954.

If you can hunt down a recording of "The Letter", you'll hear the lines: "Oh my darling, let me whisper sweet words of [something like epismetology] and discuss the [something like pompatus] of love."

Jon Cryer, the actor, co-writer, and co-producer of the 1990s movie Pompatus of Love, stumbled onto the secret of pompatus or pompitous. Speculation about "pompatus" was a recurring motif in the script for The Pompatus of Love. While the movie was in postproduction Cryer heard about "The Letter." Eager to reveal his discovery to the world, he said, while giving a TV interview, that the song had been written and sung by a member of the Medallions named Vernon Green. Green, still very much alive, was dozing in front of the tube when the mention of his own name alerted his attention. He immediately contacted Jon Cryer.

Vernon Green had never heard "The Joker." Cryer says that when he played it for Green, "He laughed his ass off."

"You have to remember, I was a very lonely guy at the time," Green told Cryer. "I was only 14 years old, I had just run away from home, and I walked with crutches." The young man scraped by singing songs on the streets of Watts.

One song was "The Letter," Green's attempt to conjure up his dream woman. The mystery words, J.C. ascertained after talking with Green, were "puppetutes" and "pizmotality." (Green wasn't much for writing things down, so the spellings are approximate.)

" 'Pizmotality' described words of such secrecy that they could only be spoken to the one you loved," Green told Cryer. And puppetutes? "A term I coined to mean a secret paper-doll fantasy figure [thus puppet], who would be my everything and bear my children." Not a really liberated concept - but look, it was 1954.

"Puppetutes" is what Steve Miller heard as "pompatus" or "pompitous." In other words, one of the great mystery lyrics of our time was actually a word its author had misunderstood himself.

Steve Miller must have loved R & B. Another line from "The Joker" goes "I really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree. / Lovey dovey, lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time."

A similar line may be found in the Clovers' 1953 hit "Lovey Dovey": "I really love your peaches wanna shake your tree / Lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time."

Miller's publicist Jim Welch has said little about these remarkable coincidences; he said Miller's comment was "artistic license." Pressed a bit, Welch said Miller acknowledged that he'd been "influenced" by earlier artists. Not perhaps the most forthcoming statement in the world, but at least we now know it didn't come to him in a dream.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous m. said...

that was downright fascinating. in a loquacious sort of way.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like the attempt at discussion about where artists ideas, influence and inspirations come from. My experience in the art world over the last twenty years has shown me so many are incredibly insecure and naive about "their ideas".

One of the worst things you can do when you have a pure idea is show it. Then not only do you have others lifting but they will claim to have mothered or fathered you!

I swear at times i think this is the most prominent issue and driving force for the art crowd.
The assertion of "idea". The insecurity of "concept"..

5:49 PM  
Anonymous m. said...

"One of the worst things you can do when you have a pure idea is show it."

Then what's the point? It's the whole "If a tree falls in the woods..." But maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying here...?

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of my favorite work is by folk artists. They have such sincerity, unique commentary and purity of idea. They often did or do not show in the modern sense.
They did or do not come up with a product and market or play it out infinitely.

"Whats the point"

Its that mystery and sastisfaction of the process I guess. The magic of true creation and how it makes things happen.. Can this support you? Yes I believe it can serve your modest needs to survive and keep the visions flowing and good vibes running.

These last six years I have seen many artists in the area who "have" in so many ways just keep taking. Not just in the area but Nationally. Not really making room for the new voices.

Its amazing to see the hippie generation do the same things to the youth..

I had the fortune to spend time with Jack Kiego Steele for a few years. He refused to show his work for some 35 years. A great work of his is up currently as part of the Hall and Glascock show at OCC. The few artists he did have contact with, you can see it in their personal works to some degree. Especially that of Nancy Patek and I think in even superficial ways for Hall. My experience with him left a good mark while fresh out of college. It was a destined meeting.

Very loquacios again and probably mis-spellings. I always appreciate your effort M.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous m. said...

My efforts? :-) Cute.

I think (now that I understand better what you meant by your statement) there is a similar divide in writing. There are those who hoard their work, and those who share, collaborate, publish, give readings, etc. I always found the hoarding writers to be amusingly paranoid ("Oh, somebody's going to steal my brilliance, my copyright, my genuis..."). I always thought that they were afraid of "running out" of creativity. So, I guess you could say I am of the opposite school of thought.

But, I think that what you are really arguing against here is not showing, but commodifying. I don't think that the two are mutually inclusive (as in, to show ones work does not have to equal the commodification that you (seem to) dislike). Then again, these are very imprecise terms all around. I guess what surprised me about your initial statement was (what I perceived to be) an intentional hermitude "I made this great thing so I am going to hoard it" as opposed to "I'm not that interested in showing my work because that doesn't appeal to me". The later seems like a genuine motivation. The former, more questionable and surreptitious.

I am a terrible speller, for the record.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't help but dance back and forth between wanting to share and wanting to keep bundled up. Sometimes I think it is a very important move for an artist to keep things in for awhile. Or even a long while. As the moment many not be right in the contemporary sceen. Or the right opportunities do not appear..

In my experience with before mentioned Jack Steele you could see in his later work that the "hoarding" had gone to far in many ways. One was the damage to all this piled work. Another was the outdated quality.. that they were still powerfull works yet could have prospered more with a timely jettison. It needed the dialog of getting out there. He began reworking his work over and over. Layers of imagery, spirits and story. At some point over working.. so said the local collectors whom later had a monopoly on his works. One of which is at the OU show currently.

Do you think M, that writers holding onto to their lifes work are rather worried about getting published or not? That their (at times defenitely justified) paranoia of artistic
victimization is about holding out for the right person who is going to say "you are someone whom has something unique to share and we are going to let you do that freely"?

4:48 PM  
Anonymous m. said...

anon. I have turned down four publishers this year because they wanted only my poetry: in a regular black and white, times new roman, fashion, and I am interested in Installation Books right now. Nobody wants to publish Installation Books of poetry (biographies are another story), so that's why I'm "holding out" so to speak. But I'm sitting on one collection of poems, not all of my work, so I think that's different.

I don't think you can lump writers or artists into any semblance of a cohesive group. There are many different reasons for hoarding (and consequences, as you mentioned): everything from insecurity to obscene ego to laziness to a genuine disintrest in commodification. Its the former three that irk me, especially the "I'm too deep to share", that makes me roll my eyes. Which was what I mistook your earlier statement for. I have met a lot of poets who write a good poem, decide it's brilliant, and then refuse to publish it forever (for a myriad of reasons) but the real reason is that they're afraid once that poem is "gone" they won't have another one as wonderful, so instead of spending their time/energy writing the next wonderful poem, they hoard that one and cease to grow.

As for the dance between hoarding and sharing: I think that there is a natural ebb and flow. There are times when you have to be public, and other times when you have to step back and hibernate. I don't think that you can do one OR the other. Like being awake without sleeping, or asleep without waking. (One would be neurosis, the other death). I think the trick is finding that good rhythm.

I'm trying to come up with a good Devil's Advocate stance because, if we agree too much there will be no discussion/arguement, if there is no arguement, I will be terribly bored because there is a widespread blackout here in Seattle and NOTHING to do today! :-) But I can't think of anything you've said that I can even pretend to disagree with vehemenantly.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo Steve Miller, what do you got to say? Where have you been showing?

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a bit of a true story..
I held out showing a huge body of work for awhile. Then a new community gallery opened in the area. I checked out the space and it was beautiful. Was truely inspired to show there but they held up a hard to get stance. When then director came to my studio (bedroom) he was very excited by everything to say the least. After the meeting I had thought things were going to work out.

They did finally two years later with a show that was hard won in the "hard to get" tough love sense. But before that immediately after the studio visit he gave advice to a local painter to paint Christmas Ornament versions of my work! This person does a huge buisness now all over Michigan! The commodities are so powerful. I have met the devil's advocate many times..

I should have taken my work to NYC as some other prominent artists had suggested at the time.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous m. said...

poor steve miller. no one has made a single comment about his work, just used his name as a springboard for semantic discussion. I feel a little guilty... sorry, steve miller, sorry.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous m. said...

anon- I'm boycotting NYC. :-)

10:56 AM  
Anonymous steve miller said...

First of all, “I” have more than one song. ☺ Beyond that, I have had a few things happening around town. My “Streams of Consciousness” show recently came down from Synergy gallery in Berkley. I created one of the many clocks for the Tick Tock exhibit/charity auction at the PCCA in Rochester. And a few of my pieces are up at Synergy as part of the Holiday Show. I’m taking a break before the holidays and hope to have new stuff for the new year. As always, you can see my work and info about current exhibits at And now that we know too much about the pompitous of love, anyone have any comments on my painting???

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems unique to your work at synergy? What was your inspiration..?

9:06 AM  
Anonymous steve miller said...

Sorry it has taken me a while to respond; holiday break.

I hope you didn’t miss it, but “Icarus” did hang at my Synergy show in the hallway in front of Andrew’s office. Andrew built the show to juxtapose my earlier geometric abstract cityscapes against my newer organic surreal landscapes.

The inspiration for this piece as well as a few other semi-abstract, semi-representational paintings in the show come from a couple of places. First, I am inspired by the process of pushing paint around to discover what develops. Once I see something in a shape, it’s hard to shake it; so I paint it.

Second, I am inspired by events and people in my life and express that through symbolism and narrative in my paintings. In “Icarus”, someone pointed out mid-way that the painting reminded him of the Greek myth. And it just stuck. Upon reflection, the myth kind of mirrors my life as an emerging artist.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You had a video of your process up as well I believe. I was startled and inspired by the changes in one paintings life.. Many times I yelled "stop!".. You had a whole show in one paintings evolution. Or perhaps i am confusing you with someone else.. that happens.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous steve miller said...

Yeah, that was me. I'm glad Andrew liked the idea of showing the loop. You can check out more of those evolutions on my site.

I'm documenting the painting I'm working on right now. I think it's going to be pretty cool.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a lot of bollocks

9:45 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home