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“The Tao of Uncle Kracker”

* tao: The art or skill of doing something in harmony with the essential nature of the thing [1].

Tao, the way I understand it, pronounced “Dow,” like the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is a tenet, or bi-product, perhaps, of Zen Buddhism. Roughly, it involves keeping the big picture of the greater good in mind, at all times. Many Buddhist monks would preach the cessation of desire, hence idealizing a debilitation of Freud’s id and ego, in favor of the superego, or vision of how the world should operate, as a whole. 

And to be honest, I’ve been stuck on Uncle Kracker for years now. The stuff should just fall in my lap, I mean. I should just be able to, like those ornery Pitchfork scribes who hate everything that’s popular, see through this commercial, industry insider shmoe who’s buddy-buddy with Kidrock and doesn’t write any of his own songs or play any instruments. 

But one time, riding my bike around in 2016, bald, with an English degree and working various extremely shi**y kitchen jobs, I had this epiphany about “Follow Me.” It just popped into my head and it marinated there like some victorious mantra of individuality and vitality in life on this planet. At the same time, though, it bred humility. It made me hungry. 

Is that really true, though? I mean, Uncle Kracker doesn’t strike me as someone who’s “hungry.” And maybe I was wrong and I actually surrendered my uniqueness by staying humble and hungry in life. 

Uncle Kracker, for his right, has assembled a public image somewhat in line with Zen in that there’s just so little of that ambition — that drive to achieve, grow, do something different and stand out. I mean, maybe that’s what makes people uniform in the first place. Uncle Kracker’s songs are like farting. They’re simple and they just feel good — they feel right. 

So let’s tiptoe through this touch-and-go predicament of the sheer absurdity of taking a song, “Follow Me,” a song written by someone else, Detroit’s Michael Bradford, and singing it as if its one’s own, in all its dictum of “You won’t find nobody else like me”. Let’s then compound said situation with the glaring fact that his next biggest single, “Drift away,” was also written by someone else, Dobie Gray, and even saw an earlier version propagate itself into stardom (although, if we’re being honest, “Drift away” was a pretty killer choice of cover, you’ve got to admit). 

So the guy didn’t write either of his two biggest singles and he doesn’t play an instrument (on Double Wide (2000), which features “Follow Me,” he’s credited with vocals and “DJ-ing,” the arrival of club bangers imminent apparently). He’s got absolutely no business coming off as natural and charming as he does. And I’ve heard some of his album tracks: they’re sung with such an emotional detachment from his subject matter that you’re tempted to call him the Puff Daddy of popular rock. 

But, I mean, it’s like, whatever, ya know. I liked the songs. And I thought they sounded good. And I liked the sound of my own voice, so, ya know, I thought it might be alright if I chilled in your stereos, ear drums and hearts, for a little bit. I mean, you won’t miss your sanity and sense of logic too bad, will ya? Ride the wave. 

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[1] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tao. 

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