An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
Paul Williams is a perfect example of someone being famous for just being a "Personality." Actually, he's too short to be considered a "perfect" example of anything, but you know what I mean. Yes, he was a singer-songwriter-actor, but he was mostly known as the chubby little four eyed long haired Academy Award winning albino dude who'd come out on the Tonight Show, do a little singin', and then sit down for a little drunken chit chat with Johnny, Ed, and whoever else Carson felt like having a few belts with that night. As well as an unfortunate physical resemblance, Williams was kinda like Truman Capote who spent so much time making snippy quips on TV talk shows most folks probably had no idea that he was one of the most brilliant writers on earth.
Was Paul Williams one of the most brilliant songwriters on earth? Naah, but in a business where a doofus like Eddie Vedder is hailed as a genius, who the hell cares? To quote the subtitle of "Dino", Nick Tosches' super biography of Dean Martin, Paul Williams was "Living High In The Dirty Business Of Dreams" and if he wasn't cool enough for the tightasses who wrote Rolling Stone, Williams didn't care about them any more than Dean Martin did.
As a nongrowth spurting teen, Paul Williams may have developed a taste for "living high" while working part time as a race horse jockey. Man, that woulda been the life for me if I was just little bit more of a shrimp! Yeah, hangin' out at the track with gamblers, bookies, mobsters, and hookers - Every high school kid's dream come true, right? Okay, so not everybody went to Sam Giancana High like I did, but I'm sure you all agree that a race horse jockey is one hell of a hip thing for a teenage kid to be. I just came up with a really cute joke about those statues people used to have in their front yards but I better save it for my column at www.kookyklankomix.com.
Williams was a Renaissance Teen and, after several successful performances in amateur theater, he said "Sad Goodbye" to his friends at the track and went to California. "I'll give ya ten to one he winds up on Hollywood Boulevard in a dress." One of the first show biz "gigs" Williams landed once he moved to L.A. was as a comedy writer for a local TV show starring stand up comic/Kennedy-assassination-conspiracy-freak, Mort Sahl. Little evidence of this operation exists and if you actually care enough to look for any you'll probably run afoul of either the CIA or the Cosa Nostra. What was that?! Did you hear something!?
While working on this show Williams made friends with an aspiring composer with the genuinely splendid name of Biff Rose who encouraged Young Paul to try his hand at writing lyrics for his Biffmusic. Their efforts paid off Big Time when their "Fill Your Heart" wound up as the B-Side of Tiny Tim's giant hit "Tiptoe Through The Tulips". Anybody here to remember Tiny Tim? Count your blessings, chilluns! Tiny Tim was kinda like Rush without drums, bass, and guitar. That's cause' by then Williams was using the drums, bass, and guitar to start his very own bad ass sixties rock and roll band - "Holy Mackerel," who released one album that was a complete flop even though it is THE GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL RECORD EVER! Oh boy, if you ever get a chance to pick up a copy of the Holy Mackeral album snap it right up cause it is THE GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL RECORD EVER! (See, those of us at Acid Logic have been very busy in the past couple of years tracking down every existing copy of the Holy Mackerel album and now we've got thirty two thousand of em locked up in a shed in Nevada. Right now the whole collection is worth about three hundred and eleven dollars but once Forbis uses his many contacts in the web zine world to manipulate thousands of rock and roll morons all over the world into believing that Holy Mackerel's album is the greatest, ooops, THE GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL RECORD EVER! we'll be selling the damn things over the net at five hundred dollars a pop! Yahoo! Hey, if you thought they went queer over Alex Chilton just imagine how swishy they would have gone if Chilton had been a chubby little four eyed long haired Academy Award winning albino dude. They're MORONS!!!)Oddly enough, Les Claypool of Primus has a side project now called "Holy Mackerel." Unfortunately, Henry Rollins is involved so it will be really, really bad.
Williams' big break finally came when an advertising jingle he wrote for a bank was turned into "We've Only Just Begun" by Captain And Tennille. No, wait a minute, I just got an e mail from Forbis that it was The Carpenters who made that song into a huge hit record! Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, The Carpenters - Karen the anorexic chick and What's His Face, her brother. Ya know, I think it was kind of mean of us all not to acknowledge what a great singer Karen was until after she died, but sometimes a practical joke doesn't turn out to be as funny as you thought it would. In that spirit, I will now break ranks with everyone to say "David Hasselhoff, ignore all those wise ass cracks - We love you! You rule! Robert DeNiro eats shit! You are THE MASTER!"
Williams was on a roll! He wrote "Joy To The World," "Just An Old Fashioned Love Song," "Rainy Days And Mondays," "I Won't Last A Day Without You," "Close To You" and - What?! Paul Williams didn't write "Close To You"!? I LOVE that song! Huh? It was Burt Bacharach? Screw Burt Bacharach! He never wrote "Close To You!" I bet Paul Williams got drunk and called him on the phone at four o'clock in the morning and told him "Okay, Bozobreath, listen up cause I'm only gonna say this once - On the day that you were born the Angels got together and decided to create a dream come true . . ."
Nothing could hold him back! He won the Academy Award for "Evergreen" which he wrote for the soundtrack of "A Star Is Born" starring . . . uh . . . Who was in that piece of crap? I never saw it. I think it was Julie Andrews. Yeah, that's right - Julie Andrews. Another primo movie job Williams landed was writing a bunch of intentionally bad songs for Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman to perform as a couple of inept song and dance men in the unintentionally bad "Ishtar." Hey, if you want bad songs why not hire Neil Sedaka and tell him to do his very very best?
Hey, if Bob Dylan can be a singer so could Paul! He recorded his own albums and became a big song and dance man all on his very own. Onstage Williams was kinda like Sonny Bono only he didn't have a big nasty piece of ass up there next to him to give us something worth looking at. Just think how far Williams would have gone doing a double with some really stacked California blonde bimbo. Hey, maybe unlike Bono, Williams woulda found a broad who wasn't a giant asshole. He woulda gone even further than Sonny Bono - He would have skied right through that tree and kept right on goin'!
The Williams Juggernaut kept a' Juggin'! Now he was an actor! "Wow! Lookat him on the screen makin' them faces, Ma!" "This is the very best 'Love Boat' EVER!!" He was on all the TV shows and - Wouldn't ya know it" It was bound to happen, who can say "No" to the lil' feller? - Paul Williams starred in a genuine feature film - "The Phantom of the Paradise" written and directed by Brian Depalma. Now, we all know what a great big box of Raisin Bran with all the raisins picked out Brian DePalma is, but this movie was made when he was still allowed to walk the streets amongst normal folk. You've seen DePalma's "Scarface", right? "Phantom of the Paradise" is pretty much the exact same movie only instead of Al Pacino as Tony Montana the Cuban drug lord it has Paul Williams as Swan the Satanic music industry exec. Hey, if a creep like Al Pacino can be a movie star so can a creep like Paul Williams! No wonder Billy Bob Thornton is a big celebrity. The only thing wrong with "Phantom Of The Paradise" is that Williams doesn't play the Phantom, which is a horrible drag because the Phantom gets to cover his horrible disfigured face with a really cool mask but we still have to look at Swan's horrible Paul William's face all through the whole movie!
Like pretty much everybody in the music biz William's career was derailed in the eighties by booze and drugs. I'm not going to write anything about that cause we've heard enough of that kind of thing and, anyway, if I'm going to go into that I'll tell you all about my own troubles. Oh! I can't stop myself - After the "Tim" tour Westerberg decided to throw me out of The Replacements and - Editor's Note - We're sorry about this, folks, I'll just cut the next fifty seven pages of the article and get back to the Williams stuff. Quite recently Williams was a regular cast member of the CBS daytime soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful", playing one of the "Bold" I think it would be fairly safe to assume. But he's back in the saddle, whether you know exactly what he's up to or not, you can always be sure that Paul Williams is up to something. He just got back from a successful tour of Argentina and for all I know right now he's hypnotizin' chickens on the UPN or getting shot out of a cannon in a Kaisar Wilhelm costume in front of a cheering crowd of drunken Bavarians.
Hey! The National Academy of Popular Music has just announced that this June Paul Williams will be inducted into The Songwriter's Hall of Fame with Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and - Get this - Sting! "Hey, Stink! Remember that phone call you got at four o'clock in the morning back in '82 - 'Listen up cause I'm only gonna say this once - Every breath you take, every move you make, every vow you break, every claim you stake, I'll be watching you'? YOU OWE ME MONEY!!!"
What do you think America? Leave your comments on the Guestbook!
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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