Elton in Rush to get down the aisle

Following the story a few months ago (blogged here by yours truly with some ire) that Sting played a concert for a tyrannical despotcomes the peculiar tale that fat fingered fool Elton John recently pocketed $1m for his AIDS charity by tinkling his ivories at the wedding of US Radio DJ Rush Limbaugh.

Elton and former EastEnders star Letitia Dean.

Elton and former EastEnders star Letitia Dean.

On the face of it, $1m (around £690,000) being whacked into the coffers of a good cause for a couple of hours work seems to be a splendid return, but throw a glance at Limbaugh’s CV of controversy and it begins to look like an odd gig for the plump pompous pianist to take on.  Although pretty much unknown in this country, Limbaugh is known in the United States as a right wing shock jock, reviled by the left.

The Guardian reports that

Last October, Limbaugh compared H1N1 to AIDS in Africa, a “hyped” disease. “Everything in Africa’s called AIDS,” he said on his radio show. “The reason is [that] they get aid money for it. AIDS is the biggest pile of – the biggest pot they throw money into.”

It seems a rum state of affairs, then, for the patron of an AIDS charity to not only turn up to held celebrate the marriage of such an outspoken critic of AIDS aid, but also take the fee to actually give to that very cause.  This is especially peculiar when considering that Limbaugh has a history of homophobic jibes, and (from the Guardian once more)

in 2007, when he [Limbaugh] claimed AIDS had not yet “spread to the heterosexual community”. “There was never any evidence that it was spreading [there], not sexually anyway, and if you said that, then you were guilty of a hate crime,” he said. “It was time to cough up money for education, and condoms, and cucumbers and all that, and we had rock stars like Bono establish philanthropic careers on the basis of all this, all based on ‘science.'”

Yes, damn that science and its adherance to properly researched and tested fact.

 So, what the bally heck is going on here?  This gig raises more questions that it answers, perhaps most pressingly the matter of whether there is ever a situation where a charity should look to refuse the money proffered to them.  The cheque has not been given to the charity from the pocket of a nefarious criminal nor a political tyrant, so it is not the case that this is “dirty” money as such.  That the client is renowned critic of, effectively, what the charity does does seem to create a real moral dilemma, however. 

There is always the simple possibility that Namesake Of Welsby (what did ever happento Elton Welsby?) knew nothing of his client and sought to do little more than earn a pretty penny for his charity by reeling off a few favourites CrocodileRocketManthankyougoodnight.  If so, you’d have to bring into question his ability to do even the most basic research, and his suitability as a man to put his name to an important charity.

The next option here is that the Irritating Ivory Emasculator just plain doesn’t care where the brass comes from, so long as it ends up in the coffers at the end of the day.  This raises all sorts of alternative questions about how and from whom charities should take donations, which are probably left to a separate debate.

The final suggestion is that Roly Poly Reg has purposefully sought to get one over on the groom, enjoying the delicious duplicity of taking a substantial amount for a gig and giving it to a cause that the customer finds unworthy of his not-very-hard-earned money.  If so, then this is a rather crafty piece of one upmanship, though whether we ought to commend such an act is open to discussion.  It’s not a huge step from this probably hypothetical situation to gaining money by deception, which is categorically something a charity should not be doing.  (However, any fellow regular readers of my favourite publication Viz will hopefully join me in enjoying this idea of Elton as a small-time trickster, just as he is depicted in the aforementioned magazine’s excellent strips created by their resident genius Davey Jones.)

However, there is a underlying problem which taints the manner in which we judge this story, in that I dare say that the majority of the people reading this have no idea as to who Rush Limbaugh is.  I have to confess that I had never heard of him before this peculiar little news story cropped up.  The danger here is that we become overly-censorious about a broadcaster whose output I have never heard, nor ever read any of his scribblings.  This is a trap that right-of-centre thinkers of a habit of doing with material that challenges preconceptions – a recent example being the condemnation of Chris Morris‘ film Four Lions – a comedy about a group of less-than-intelligent British Muslims planning a terrorist attack – which was lambasted in some areas as a subject unsuitable for joking and I heard at least one radio debate discussing whether the film ought to be banned, conducted by people who ultimately had to admit that they hadn’t even seen the piece. 

Those of us who deplore the knee-jerk reaction by knee-jerking reactionaries have to take care not to bite so easily when someone boldly steps into the spotlight and says something we don’t like.  Is the statement or message being hollered in such a fashion to purposefully prickle us, or indeed is the statement being made so extreme for the purposes of deliciously ludicrous irony?  Comedian Sarah Silverman, for example, will often make offensive jokes or statements in her act, but the basic joke is that her bigotry is based on a blinkered and ill-thought out starting point, whilst at a lower level, and somewhat to the other end of the political swing, journalists such as Jeremy Clarkson  and in particular Richard Littlejohn (another person, coincidentally, given the Davey Jones Viz treatment) are provocatively  incendary for the purposes of shock horror we’re-all-going-to-Hell-in-a-handcart column inch sensationalism.

And we need stray no further than that same online Guardian article for debate as to who, what and indeed why Rush Limbaugh is a figure of debate on the other side of the Atlantic.  A quick skim read of the Comments section sees various views of Limbaugh – those who see him as a vile figure of hatred, whereas one poster describes him as a “professional wind up merchant” who is playing his audience like an instrument, in order to expose their inability to think rationally.

Ultimately the net result of this is that we come full-circle upon ourselves, and we are left with the very same questions we raised at the beginning.  These are namely; Who is Rush Limbaugh?  and Is he an appropriate person for Elton John to ply his wares for?  Return to top of page…


 I have been notable from my absence on these pages for some time, due to holidays, generally being busy and, in part, setting up a personal non-music blogwhich is largely used to record the silly things which go through my head during the day.  However, regular listeners / readers who avidly tune in and then read these blogs (which could be up to as many as three people Worldwide) should fear not – there is room in my life for two internet based outlets for prattling on an on and on and on and on.  And on.

However, in not posting here for a while, I am criminally behind on playlists for what has been played on Selection Box.  To have a mass list of show after show will make for dull reading, so I’ll post them sparingly here and play catch up over the next few posts.  I pwomise.


All the fun of the Phair.

All the fun of the Phair.

Selection Box Show 132

Transmitted 3/5/2010
1.  Salsa Celtica – Pa’l Rumberos
from: El Camino

2.  Liz Phair – South Dakota
from: Juvenilia EP

3.  Mos Def featuring Talib Kweli – History
from: The Ecstatic

4.  Wally Lewis – Lover Boy
from: Red Hot Rockabilly (various artists)

5.  Bob Dylan – Visions of Johanna
from: Blonde On Blonde

6.  Four Shells – Hot Dog
from: Stax/Volt – The Complete Singles 1959-1968 – Volume 5 (various artists)

7.  Cornershop – Sleep On The Left Side
from: When I Was Born For The 7th Time

8.  Prince Mohammed – Johnny Thunder
from: People Are You Ready?

9.  Broken Social Scene – World Sick
from: Forgiveness Rock Record

10.  Hot Club of Cowtown – Columbus Stockade Blues
from: Wishful Thinking

11.  Dave Cloud & The Gospel of Power – You Don’t Need Sex
from: Pleasure Before Business

12.  God Help The Girl – Baby You’re Blind
from: CD single

13.  Kim D – Come On Baby
from: Doin’ the Mod, Vol. 5: That Driving Beat (various artists)


And you thought Lesley Ashs face went bad.

And you thought Lesley Ash's face went bad.

Selection Box Show 133

Transmitted 10/5/2010
1.  Sam & Dave – I Take What I Want
from: Sweat ‘N’ Soul: An Anthology (1965-1971)

2.  Julie Doiron – Heavy Snow
from: I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day

3.  Nick Venet – Love In Be Bop Time
from: Red Hot Rockabilly (various artists)

4.  Scott Matthews – The Fool’s Fooling Himself
from: Passing Stranger

5.  Gogol Bordello – Pale Tute
from: Trans Continental Hustle

6.  Errol Linton’s Blues Vibe – Packin’ My Bags
from: Beyond Mississippi: The Blues That Left Town (various artists)

7.  Ride – Unfamiliar
from: Today Forever EP

8.  Pete Johnson & Big Joe Turner – Wine Baby Boogie
from: Bands That Boogie Woogie (various artists)

9.  Betty Davis – Anti-Love Song
from: Betty Davis

10.  Peter Gabriel – Biko
from: Peter Gabriel [3] (aka Melt)

11.  Tobacco featuring Aesop Rock – Dirt
from: Fucked Up Friends

12.  On The Air – Even Try
from: The Girls Can’t Help It (various artists)

13.  Sarah Blasko – We Won’t Run
from: As Day Follows Night

14.  The Cramps – I’m Cramped
from: Songs The Lord Taught Us


If you sit in the sun youll get Bruner.

If you sit in the sun you'll get Bruner.

Selection Box Show 134

Transmitted 24/5/2010
1.  Beth Orton – The Stars All Seem To Weep
from: Central Reservation

2.  The Cats & The Fiddle – I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water
from: We Cats Will Swing For You Volume 3 1941-1948

3.  International Jetset – K-Crash
from: Pleasures & Pitfalls EP

4.  Sir Isaac & The Do Dads – Blue Groove
from: Stax Volt Voulme 5 (various artists)

5.  Mos Def featuring Talib Kweli – History
from: The Ecstatic

6.  Jackie Dee – Buddy
from: Red Hot Rockabilly (various artists)

7.  Wareika Hill Sounds – Coconut Head Special
from: Wareika Hill Sounds

8.  Curve – Chinese Burn (Lunatic Calm Mix)
from: The Way of Curve 1990 – 2004

9.  Princess Superstar – Bad Babysitter
from: Princess Superstar Is

10.  Ruth Wallis – Booze Is The Only Answer
from: Hot Songs For Cool Nights

11.  Teenage Fanclub – Baby Lee
from: Shadows

12.  Chuck Garbo & The Soul Finders – Can I Be Your Main Squeeze
from: In The Pocket With Eddie Bo – New Orleans Rock N Roll R&B Soul & Funk Goodies

13.  Cliff Bruner & His Texas Wanderers – I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister
from: Cliff Bruner & His Texas Wanderersboxset

14.  Aretha Franklin – Today I Sing The Blues
from: The Queen In Waiting (The Columbia Years 1960-1965)