Our Beloved Musical Heroes
Rock and roll, through the wild personas that forged its musical landscape, has certainly had its fair share of dark and devious brush ups with the law over its storied history.
We as a society seem to revel in the legends of our rock heroes flirting with the occult, going head first into the abyss of drugs and alcohol, and even getting embroiled in alleged murders.
True crime has exploded for podcasts in recent history and Disgraceland is a new venture that adds a unique twist to the genre by focusing on crimes and stories that involve legends from the music industry. It is a brilliant twist that binds together two wildly passionate fan bases, true crime, and music, that are sure to be equally swept up by this unique mashup.
Hosted, written, and produced by Jake Brennan, Disgraceland is a bi-weekly offering of shows clocking in at about 30 minutes each. The details in the stories are conveyed with depth and layered in a suspenseful atmosphere.
While these episodes are not dramatic reenactments of the captivating events, there is a heightened sense of drama felt as host Brennan delivers with just the right amount of urgency when needed.
Throttling back and forth between an understated coolness, befitting for a rock-themed show, and punched up moments of intensity, Brennan knows exactly how to pace the delivery of these half-hour torrid tales to keep the listener enthralled all the way through.
Spanning Time And Genre
From rock originators like Jerry Lee Lewis to the icons of punk like Sid Vicious, Disgraceland spans time and genre to curate some of the most raucous and intriguing crossovers between music and crime.
I am struck by the detail and vibe that gets painted in these relatively short episodic offerings. Even stories I thought I knew a good bit about, like the tragic legend of Sid and Nancy, get delivered with a thoroughness that helps retell the tale in an entirely different context. Who knew about Sid’s horribly dysfunctional mother or why this British punk legend was even in NYC at the time?
For the Rolling Stones entry, we are given the proper context of the Stones in the 70’s as one of the most dangerous, roaming pack of drug-fueled madmen in music. They were traveling chaos and you felt the thick atmosphere of the drugs, partying, all-nighters, and blues-soaked rock through the spot on storytelling of Brennan.
No Apologies Offered
Where some true crime shows delve deep into investigative journalism, giving voice to the voiceless, and looking to potentially break open cold cases, Disgraceland stays rooted in entertaining, eliciting draw dropping reactions, and simply having fun.
Just when you think the show could be dangerously veering into not only exploitation but the glamorization of alleged criminals and crime, like the profile of underground hip-hop star Tay-K, Brennan serves a timely reminder that there are innocent victims at the heart of Tay-K’s insane story, not to mention the show itself is titled Disgraceland. The timely reminder and apt title aside, there are no apologies made for the thrill of delivering these lawless vignettes.
Music, with rock and hip-hop, in particular, have always had elements of danger and outlaw behavior associated with certain acts and sub-genres. As fans we become fascinated with the sub-plots behind the hits, relishing in the scandalous details of the traveling pandemonium that surrounds our beloved artists.
Disgraceland perfectly summed up our obsession with rock stars when they stated in the show description: “...real rock stars are more like feral, narcissistic animals than functioning members of society and that is precisely what makes them so damn entertaining”.
That is brilliantly stated from an ascending show that weaves together two subjects, music and crime, that induce a massive amount of intrigue and passion across society. Do check out Disgraceland and get lost in the swirling world of madness from the dark side of some of music’s generational figures.
Are you passionate about music and intrigued by the long storied history of its stars? What was your favorite Disgraceland episode and who should cover next?