Ever open your mouth, and then instantly wish you hadn’t? Flapping one’s gums being doubly traumatizing when something said months ago comes back to kick you square in the nuts. If so—and massive apologies and since condolences here—you know exactly what it’s like to be Ted Nugent today.
The favourite rock star of red-hatted American Republicans, and Kid Rock, is trending on Twitter today for reasons that suggest, somewhere deep, deep down, he might actually have something resembling normal feelings.
It’s one thing to be endlessly attacked by every American who believes in gun control, same-sex marriage, Black Lives Matter, and the right of black bears, random antelopes, and Fernando the Lion to not be killed by Ted Nugent.
It’s another to be attacked by riot grrrl pioneer, rock ’n’ roll warrior, and all-round iconic fucking badass Joan Jett. You know—the woman who Nirvana tapped to fill the shoes of Kurt Cobain when they performed “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction. (Want to read some more gushing? Go here.)
Define vicious you say? How about this: in a new interview with NME where Jett reflects on her storied career, the former Joan Marie Larkin has a few words for Nugent. They include the following:
- “He’s not a tough guy. He plays tough guy, but this is the guy who shit his pants–literally–so he didn’t have to go in the Army.”
- “This is the tough guy who’s running around America, stirring things up against each other.”
And, most excellently damning of all...
- “Ted Nugent has to live with being Ted Nugent. He has to be in that body, so that’s punishment enough.”
At the risk of stating the obvious, that, fellow popcorn eaters and fans of Sean Connery in The Untouchables, is how you bring a .30 Army smokeless cartridge Gatling fucking gun to a knife fight.
The sad thing is that the Nuge probably thought the comment that started this week’s war was long forgotten. As was the list that got him thinking “Hey, I’ll bet what the world needs right now is more musings from crazy uncle Ted.”
The easy one-stop summation of the beef starts with a 2010 Rolling Stone list of 100 Greatest Guitarists compiled by gold-star music journalist David Fricke. Jett came in at number 89, with Fricke sagely writing: “Lead guitarists gave rock its icons; rhythm players gave it soul. The line runs from Eddie Cochran to Pete Townshend to Johnny Ramone, a lineage in which Joan Jett should not be taken lightly. In the early Runaways and the later Blackhearts, she played it straight ahead: No frills, all heart, no fucking around.”
If you guessed where Nugent placed on the Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists lists, take a bow. And if you didn’t, here’s a hint: nowhere.
This led Nugent last Christmas season to post a “NUGEFIREROCK” Zoom video. (Need further proof that Nugent might be step away from a Troglodyte? Imagine him grunting that out loud, inserting pauses between “Nuge...Fire...Rock”, preferably unbathed while roasting a piece of meat on a stick).
In the video his stream-of-consciousness musings include: “You have to have shit for brains and you have to be a soulless, soulless prick to put Joan Jett—love Joan! Some of my greatest memories include lesbians, but ... Joan Jett is on the list, but not Mark Farner? If Grand Master Flash is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Joan Jett is on the list of Top 100 Guitar players, then I’m Caitlyn Jenner’s boy toy.”
As John Oliver might say, there’s a lot to unpack there, including that some people have a God-given ability to come across as sexist, racist, transphobic, and generally clueless without even really trying.
Evidently unaware there’s a time to ramble, and a time to mea culpa with “Sorry, but I’ve got my head up my 73-year-old ass”, Nugent later doubled down in an interview with The Real Music Observer. Comments there included “I started off by praising Joan Jett’s genuine shitkicker, down-to-earth, all-American rock and roll credentials,” Nugent said. “I started off by praising her. I even saluted the lesbian thing. Here’s the question: how on God’s good green earth could someone listen to what I say and then claim it’s about hate and about knocking and belittling?”
The most important thing to ask is this: what kind of fuckwit would come away from “Cherry Bomb”, “I Love Playin' With Fire”, “I Hate Myself For Loving You”, or the totally fucking devastating “Victim of Circumstance” thinking anything other than Jett should have been moved up Fricke’s list a couple-dozen spots?
The answer is, possibly, a man who once told High Times that, to get out of the draft for the Vietnam war, he took some radical measures after getting his recruitment notice.
You can read Nugent’s recollection (which he later recanted) of his recuitment-office-physical here. But be warned that it contains such puke-worthy passages as: “Then two weeks before, I stopped eating any food with nutritional value. I just had chips, Pepsi, beer-stuff I never touched-buttered poop, little jars of Polish sausages, and I’d drink the syrup, I was this side of death, Then a week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants. poop, piss the whole shot. My pants got crusted up.”
As Jett might say, “He plays tough guy, but this is the guy who shit his pants–literally–so he didn’t have to go in the Army.”
But enough about ancient history.
After drawing the ire of Jett in NME this week, Nugent started scrambling, again, to defend himself as misunderstood. Which was flamingly idiotic for no reasons that, in one corner, we have the woman who is loved, adored, and idolized by everyone from Miley Cyrus to Rico Nasty to Nirvana. And in the other, a man whose primary fan base consists of MAGA hat morons, Sammy Hagar, and that uncle who spends every Thanksgiving dinner railing on about lazy immigrants, same-sex marriages, and how "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" is obviously about Robert Smith from the Cure.
Check out Nugent's brand-spanking-new NUGEFREEDOMFIRE on YouTube (see below), and ask yourself who would say, while the camera’s rolling: “I love Joan Jett and mentioned how I love her. I love her music....Joan, I love you. It’s real rock and roll, it’s awesome, plus I love lesbians. I think it’s cool. So I praised her and saluted her. I just said that Mark Farner should be on the list before Joan Jett because she’s not a real fiery guitar player.”
And then ask yourself who in the actual fuck would proudly announce to the world in the same clip, “She just attacked me. But then again Rolling Stone magazine said that ‘Snakeskin Cowboys’ was the worst homophobic song ever. And everybody knows that ‘Snakeskin Cowboys has nothing to do with queers."
And, worst of all, “I’m getting ready to go watch Tucker Carlson.”
The answer to the above question being, Joan Jett might offer, "someone who shit his pants–literally–so he didn’t have to go in the Army."