My brother deserves 83,433,372 views on YouTube
Regrettably, of the 83,433,372 people who’ve viewed the video for Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” on YouTube, I count as 1.
I had noticed the video was among the top music videos on YouTube last week, and I’m always game for a steady montage of twerking.
But as I watched, I began to feel sad and think about my brother.
So sad, in fact, that I decided to then watch the video for Art Elliot’s “Days Like This” twice in hopes that I could add a second view to his official count on YouTube.
As of Wednesday, Art’s video — which is touchingly funny and completely relatable — had been viewed just 461 times in the month and a half since he uploaded it.
Art Elliot is actually the performing nom de plume of my younger brother, Marty McGinn, a 1999 graduate of ye olde Jefferson-Scranton High.
For whatever reason — perhaps in small part because people always pronounce our last name as “McGuinn” or “McQuinn” — he adopted a stage name when he started making the rounds as a singer-songwriter in the Bay Area of California, where he’s lived for a decade now.
He’s back in Jefferson for a visit, and will be playing a free show at 8 p.m. Saturday at Prairie Blue.
As I watched Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda,” it reinforced the notion, not only that my brother needs a bouncier booty, but that the game is completely rigged.
Art — like countless other performers with clear ability — is having to go it alone in an era when questionable talent inexplicably has the backing of multinational mass media corporations.
And, yes, “Anaconda” is just as terrible as you might assume.
But, tell me, whose video is bound to get more views on YouTube — the one that’s self-produced or the one backed by a company with its own stock ticker symbol?
There are probably a dozen or more good reasons why the few music labels still in existence insist on making stars out of the least deserving human beings.
Google “Britney Spears without Auto-Tune” if you want to hear what one of them sounds like before all the bad notes are corrected with software.
It’s been asked before whether artists of yore like Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen would have gotten record deals had they come along in the 21st century.
Conventional wisdom says no.
Certainly, had they been signed to deals at all, they wouldn’t have been allowed to mature into the artists who gave us “Blonde on Blonde” or “Born to Run.”
They would have each released one album — both of which only hinted at the things to come — and been cut loose for not immediately making bucket-loads of cash.
Am I just a bitter older brother?
I’m awfully proud of Marty, and have been among his biggest fans from the beginning.
Do I think he needs to be more aggressive in pushing his music and getting out in front of more people?
Yes, but it’s a big world out there, and there’s only so much an independent artist can do.
His latest material is worth hearing, and completely accessible.
He’s evolved from a guy infatuated with themes of isolation and visions of a post-apocalyptic landscape — he did, after all, endure a divorce — to a guy just trying to make sense of modern society with his humor intact.
Consider the fact that he accompanies himself on a piano, and you’ve got the perfect artist to recommend to fans of Ben Folds.
Marty deserves to have a shot at 83,433,372 views on YouTube.
When our Grandma Virginia died here in town in 1990 — Marty would’ve maybe been all of 9 — the grandkids were allowed to pick out one thing she owned before everything else was sold at auction.
Without hesitation, I picked her TV.
Without hesitation, Marty picked her Thomas organ.
And so it began.
Mom and Dad got him signed up for organ lessons, and I still remember the sight of his elfin frame — clad in a little gray suit with red socks — slamming out a tune on the giant organ at First Presbyterian Church during a recital one Sunday afternoon.
I eventually left for college, only to come home and learn that Marty had started composing music.
How he did it, no one’s quite sure.
Then there was the time I was outside one summer night during college break and heard the jazz standard “Moonglow” wafting through an open window.
It sounded like someone was playing an old Benny Goodman record.
But, no — it was just Marty on his clarinet.
Unfortunately, you can’t twerk to “Moonglow.”