Take an harp, go about the city,
thou harlot that hast been forgotten;
make sweet melody, sing many songs,
that thou mayest be remembered.
Isaiah 23:16 (KJV)
Morrison, Hendrix and Janis the J.
(with others lost tripping along the way)
continue to enlighten young stoners,
adolescent existential loners
who hold them as holy and dig their writ
in billows of bong-smoke. Listen to it:
Hendrix and Joplin and Morrison, man
were part of some cosmic, like, master-plan
true prophets—thus sayeth The Lizard King.
High as kites, their disciples hear them sing
suburban anthems to teen perdition
sirens of drug-addled sixties vision.
pockets continue to empty for discs
while taking somewhat calculated risks.
Should vomitous overdose be esteemed
with visions that actual prophets dreamed?
These anointed cherubs of sad excess
can never illuminate, much less bless
a nation of youth who have lost their way
and can’t even choose which download to play.
Morrison, man—that dude was so profound
he broke on through to that state where I’m bound…
Moon-struck drummers, now ghosts of dubious name
live on, in pounding out their spectral fame;
exploding dirigibles flown too high
and blown to pieces in Lucifer’s sky.
Such riffs and licks and solos and visions
should force us to some unkind decisions
wherein we ask how free we really are
when enslaved to a devil’s fallen star.
Count my syllables.
Behold beauteous imagery.
Smile now—pay later
Unhinged is too weak a word for the wildest moments of Fun House, especially closer “L.A. Blues”, a fiery freakout that’s more heroin than LSD and makes no pretense of song structure. Saxophonist Steven Mackay adds a nasty edge to the album’s second side, blazing right along with the rest of the band to create a texture that sounds exactly like the album cover—Iggy tossed in a flaming sea, possibly hell. The record’s first half is somewhat tamer, with the heavy boogie of “Down on the Street” and the paranoid snarl of “T.V. Eye”, where the band plays with deadly efficiency behind Iggy’s demented vocal. Iggy actually captures the feel of the whole record in the opening line of “1970”:
Out of my mind on a Saturday night.
Reading SCARRIET’s Top 100 Rock Songs of All Time forced me to finally publish this draft I’ve had sitting around:
Up against the wall, burn all it down girl, smash the state, armed love, light my fire, here comes the new order, impending chaos, a new dawn, when all is one and one is all, etc, etc.
Oh yeah, man. Rock’n’Roll is so REVOLUSHUNARY ! It’s all about, like, Freedom … and Change… and – uh…
But let us pause for a moment and consider: spoiled sons and daughters of the upper and middle classes, children of the land of plenty gyrating in the psychedelic sun or cavorting in nocturnal cavern-clubs; masses of stoned teens chanting in arenas, banging their heads to guttural nonsense – raving narcissistic drugged-out youth, flaunting their rebellion and paying good money to confuse their brains while they do it in the road, mocking the sexual standards of anterior generations while projecting bad attitude and donning costumes of calculated shock-value – self-anointed anarchist prophets, metal-head barbarian wannabees and metro-queer Gothic prettyboys… these are certainly interesting cultural phenomena (symptoms?) to study. But PLEASE don’t call it revolutionary change. Revolutionary change would mow down these bourgeois decadents and ridiculously-attired hipsters with machine-gun fire and then herd the rest into reeducation camps. Revolution is organized death at the hands of tyrants, thugs, and bureaucracies… Rock n’Roll is about – uh… downloading tunes to your i-pod, getting high and disobeying authority figures. To hell with Rock and Roll. It’s just a lot of syncopated slave music at its “get your groove on” heart. (I mean “slave” in the greater Greco-Roman and Nietzschean sense of the word – not in the recent context only. Think Hellenistically for a moment). Rock’n’Roll and all of it’s “shock the bourgeoisie/anti-patrician” offshoots is music of the lower chakras, gut-music, 3 or 4 chord fuzzed-up anthems to carnality punctuated by bestial grunts, plebeian hoots, hillbilly yells, pimp-strutting shrieks, lecherous leering slavering animality, and undulating serpentine harlotry. Ooooooh – how revolting it truly is – because it commodifies revolt, repackages the same old inarticulate teenage rebellion OVER & OVER & OVER, intensifying it slightly each time, tweaking it for each distinct youth subculture and acting as if it actually had more significance than it does (remember – I also love the music – bear with me -we’re analyzing here…). Rock music is an opportunistic infection – and a power-aggrandizing freak show. It monopolizes your attention with its pounding adrenaline-rushing excitement but then can’t figure out what it wants to say to you. You mistake its verses for Wisdom and Truth – especially when you’re high or drunk or tripping. But in the end, it’s just words and rhythms with a lot of “ooh yeah” and “woah baybeh” and “c’mon now child” – or worse. It messes up your diastolic cardiac-rhythms and induces slight panic and disorientation that you mistake for liberation and enlightenment. Then you go out and BUY the GOODS ! Lucifer is reliving his glory days as the instigator of an abortive coup attempt against Heaven and God Almighty. He is mumbling in the vomit-blocked tracheae of dead false prophets and departed drummers. He is strutting on the glittering stage amidst cheap pyrotechnics at a show where no one gets in for free – and no one gets out alive. The Prince of this World is bringing out his new product line next spring. The tawdry androgynous freak – the glowering little dictator (the ghost of a dead insect) tries to convince himself that he is alive by cultivating the adoration of godless youth who salute him in unison like a bunch of Nazi faithful at a fascist rally. Rock and Roll is stupid when you think about it. I’m ashamed I like it so much.
Classical music is probably better for your mind in the long run.