THE SACRED COW
Once a sacred cow worried about its fan base. Things hadn’t been going so well for the sacred cow’s career of late. The crowds were getting smaller, and the venues where it could count on an enthusiastic reception weren’t what they’d once been. The time when anything it had put out was sure to prompt a devoted response seemed long ago. The sacred cow remembered wistfully the fawning press and giddy groupies and how the two often hadn’t been easy to tell apart. When you’re hot you’re hot, and when you’re cold the nights seem very lonely indeed. Keeping even a minimal entourage together meant you had to lower your standards and accept hangers-on whose loyalties were as iffy as their speech. In fact, the sacred cow’s present confidants couldn’t really be called true believers. A few of them appeared able to take in what it said and make at least a half-coherent response, but most were woefully monosyllabic in spirit. If they weren’t trailing after it, they’d likely be following some other sacred cow down whatever road it would take them. What was more depressing, though, was the altered nature of the audiences now. They still knew the words, to be sure, and mouthed along on the famous parts, yet they did it with glazed eyes and as though uncertain what those words meant anymore. It wasn’t clear why exactly they showed up except perhaps to fill a few empty hours in their lives. The warm bodies on either side seemed as much of a draw as anything the sacred cow might do on stage. Somewhere in the middle of a faltering world tour, its manager insisted a change had to be made. Public tastes had shifted. The usual song and dance still went a long way, but there had to be more razzle-dazzle, more smoke and special effects now to draw the faithful in. The sacred cow might think all of this a little corny, this appeal to mosh-pit fanatics with the shortest attention spans, but you couldn’t ignore performance values, its manager insisted. The message wasn’t as important as the medium nowadays. Forget about anything too demanding or too deep. Give them something simple and catchy they can hum in the shower again. So the sacred cow set to reworking its entire repertoire. Out went anything that hadn’t been a megahit in the past and in came the toe-tappingly familiar. Old standbys got extended play, with aging vocal cords saved by frequent lip-syncing as backup dancers pumped out a new routine of spirited struts and poses. Contrary to the sacred cow’s apprehensions, its fortunes quickly rebounded after these changes, and a comeback tour was launched. Appearances sold out far in advance, with standing room only and sky-high scalpers’ prices. Everybody who was anybody wanted to see and be seen with the sacred cow once again. The manager’s hunch had proved stunningly correct. For who could resist the return of a superstar sacred cow, one you didn’t need to strain to understand but could just surrender yourself to, letting the stage business and the enthralling sound blow your mind?
Copyright © 2007 by Geoffrey Grosshans