As we all know, in the 1980s, the coolest member of any band was always the sax player. It's why Rob Lowe played one (while wearing a beautiful headband) in St. Elmo's Fire, and it's why Tina Turner's sexy sax man showed up in The Lost Boys, looking unspeakably magical (see above). But this week, just when we thought she was on the right track (being civil in the same room as Dave Grohl and such), Courtney Love went and blew it by declaring that "saxophones don't belong in rock 'n' roll." Now, we'll be the first to admit that the horn of plenty isn't as ubiquitous as it once was in the world of rock, but to outright dismiss it just feels lazy and a bit mean-spirited, given its undoubtedly important place in music history. Good things involving saxophones can and do happen -- here are five unwavering examples.
"Midnight City," M83
Ever seen the proper video for that Victoria's Secret commercial song before? It's got creepy old stately homes and glowing-eyed telekinetic children and a beautiful sunset and, oh, what's that, Courtney Love? Only a bastard sax solo shortly past the three-minute mark! Stick that in your e-cigarette and smoke it.
INXS wouldn't let Kirk Pengilly play saxophone on every song they recorded, but goodness, when he did, it made everything better. Pengilly's sax is almost entirely responsible for all the momentum on the title track from the Kick album, and that solo from "Never Tear Us Apart" was the inspiration behind a million kids' first sax lessons. As a side note, when you have a name as patently ridiculous as Kirk Pengilly, you have no choice but to become a professional saxophonist. It's just destiny.
"Holocene," Bon Iver
If you're a musician that just cannot stop writing chronically melancholy and deeply upsetting music, there's really only one way around it: sneak in a mother-effin' saxophone somewhere. Bon Iver is smart with its surreptitious use of the instrument -- just putting a smidgen of it here, a dab of it there. It mostly stays right in the background, like a tiny sunbeam sneaking its way out of thick clouds on a winter's day. It may be barely there, but it's also the only thing lying between you and a massive depression vortex, so just be grateful for it.
"Let England Shake," PJ Harvey
When we found out that PJ Harvey had made an album with saxophone on it, we banged our heads on the nearest table for 10 minutes and figured she must just be doing a favor for old collaborator John Parish (the guilty horn-blower in question). Aside from anything else, the album was Let England Shake -- and there ain't nothin' English about the sound of a saxophone. Except, that is, for on this entire record where, by some rhyme and reason, Harvey and Parish manage to make sax sound like an absurdly somber instrument. Listen to it there, just tooting away sadly in the background. Waiting to die. If Bon Iver employed saxophone like this, it would probably prompt a mass suicide somewhere.
"Jungleland," Bruce Springsteen
It's simple, really. If Clarence Clemons doesn't make you love the saxophone, you're a dick.