Ray Cappo / Raghunatha Dasa is one of the best frontmen ever. There is no doubt about it. I say so enthusiastically in my book, while describing the first time I ever saw Youth of Today.
What made Ray a great frontman was his exceptionally outgoing charisma and unparalleled ability to control and rally the crowd like a real leader. This has nothing to do with skill as a musician. In fact, being a great frontman for a hardcore punk band has little do to with being a great musician.
No one is the best at everything – even uncommonly great people like Ray / Raghunatha. Everyone has shortcomings. God knows I’m a walking bucket of flaws and fuckups. God knows I’m not the best at everything, perhaps not even at anything. But it seems there are some things I am relatively good at, and good for. And I’m pretty sure that’s the way it is for everyone. The moon has spots on it, but its still the most beautiful thing in the sky – in some ways even because of the spots.
A lot of people flipped when I “insulted” Ray’s musicianship in this part of the story. If it is truly “envious” or an “insult” to say that Zack was a much better musician than Ray – then you all might as well just cross me off your Christmas card lists, with heavy black ink, because I’m sure I will sooner or later “insult” all of you, since no one is perfect. You might as well lock me up in the “envious insulter’s prison” without need for further trial. I plead guilty, since I don’t see how its even possible, short of sheer willful illusion, to like EVERYTHING about a person and ignore any and all shortcomings.
Why even write about this topic in the first place, many have asked. Why is it even important if Ray is as good a musician as Zack?
Because it’s one of the more significant issues a musician considers when deciding whether or not to leave a band with Zack and join a band with Ray (which was actually the main topic of this part of my story, if anyone noticed). And one more thing: I gave a sentence or two to the topic. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. You guys did by flipping out.
Everyone is certainly most entitled to their own opinion about which musicians are more and less mega awesome. Objectively speaking, however, I think my opinion on this particular case is significantly more well informed than the rest of you, since (a) I’m a musician myself and (b) I think I may very well be the only musician on Earth who was actually worked closely in bands with both Ray and Zack. Therefore odds are that no one knows their relative musicianship better than I do.
Honestly, when I heard all the attempts to correct me for writing that Zack was a better musician than Ray, I couldn’t help thinking most of you have your sensitivity knobs cranked up too high, and seem to be getting a bit old – losing that punk spirit that wasn’t afraid to be dangerous, wasn’t afraid say something halfway slightly controversial or confrontational.
Maybe that’s something to be proud of? Maybe you grew up and I’m still acting like a kid? I’m not really sure. Maybe there’s as much merit in staying young as there is in “growing up”? Maybe writing this memoir has refreshed my punk spirit… or maybe I’m just a “Toys’R’Us Kid.”