The Art of Story Telling with Integrity – a la Bill Hicks

I can’t get enough of Bill Hicks.  I saw a documentary about him in 2010 at least 10 times.  When you see a movie for that many times the sentences from the situations just fall out of your mouth like braised meat falling off the bone – tender, juicy and succulent.  The content is so rich from that documentary.  It’s called “American:  The Bill Hicks Story”.

I discovered Bill Hicks from a musician.  The Tool album “Aenima” was a tribute to Bill Hicks.  There was mutual admiration between the band and the comedian.  The band also mentions the comedian/satirist as the inspiration for another album, “Undertow”.    I admire Hicks’ integrity and genius.  He spoke it as he saw it, and he didn’t just speak off the cuff without giving it thought.  There’s deep insight to what he said.  He was devoted to raising the evolution of humankind.  Yes, he had controversial ideas, opinions and he spoke them. 

That flag burning thing, god did that bring up some retarded emotions… The flag! The flag! They said we can burn the flag!!! they didn’t say that, they said if a guy burns a flag he probably doesn’t have to go to jail… For a fucking year! People going… “Hey buddy, let me tell you something… My daddy died for that flag!” Really? I bought mine, you know they sell them in K-mart, three bucks. “He died in the Korean war for that flag.” Well want a coincidence! Mine was made in Korea! He didn’t die for a fucking flag, it’s just a piece of cloth, he died for what the flag represents and that the freedom To Burn The Fucking Flag!

– Bill Hicks

For me as an artist, I look to Bill as an inspiration for honest story telling – telling it from the gut, and not being concerned about others’ opinions, especially the critic in me.  When I write like that, I find it rings truer to other people who sees my work.  Whenever I let the critic run amok I don’t write at all.  Best to gag that critic and leave him out of the creativity realm.  The only use I have for the critic is when another critic tears into a piece of my creation.  Maybe that’s the only purpose for the critic.

In February 2009, David Letterman apologized to Mary Hicks (Bill’s mother) for censoring a taped performance by Bill Hicks that was scheduled to air in the autumn of  1993.  It would’ve been his last appearance (his 12th) on the Late Night Show.  In his apology to Mary Hicks, Letterman said, “What was the matter with me?… It says more about me as guy than it says about Bill, because there was absolutely nothing wrong with that.”   I agree with that statement.  When I am critical of somebody else’s opinion or behavior then it’s a sign of a shadow in my own personality that is being reflected back upon me.  The other person’s words and actions is reflecting back to me what I don’t like about me.

A few days ago I was running one of his skits in my head.  I had just finished reading “Soul Stories” by Gary Zukav, and one of the messages from the book is we are all one.  Bill Hicks closes his shows with the same message.  He asks why the media never portrays a positive drug story.  In his fantasy he describes what could be a positive story:

“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.   Here’s Tom with the Weather.”  – Bill Hicks

I needed another dose of Bill, so I replayed one his recordings over the weekend.  (If you’re curious to hear any of his work, I’d recommend “Sane Man”, “Rant E-minor”, or “Arizona Bay”.)   I wondered if there was anyone these days that can come close to being in the same league as Bill Hicks.  So I hopped on the internet to do a search found this new flash.  Actor Cameron Crowe will be directing a biopic on Bill Hicks.  The actor was originally going to play the part, but the casting for the role has been opened.  Production of the movie is scheduled for next year.  It’s hard to imagine who can touch the intelligence, compassion and talent of Bill Hicks, but I hope that whoever communes with Bill’s words can aspire to the consciousness he inspired among his fans.

Bill died of pancreatic cancer in February 1994.  He was 32 years old.

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