Lightning Strikes


Still laboring under the delusion that music was better in the sixties? You can let go of that. The sixties were just as heavily littered with disposable crap pop songs as we are now. But since it is the nature of crap pop songs to be ‘enjoyed’ and forgotten, we have of course forgotten them and now like to imagine that every band in the sixties was The Beatles. For a week in  February 1966, Lightnin’ Strikes by Lou Christie was the number one song in America. (Bookended by songs from Petula Clark and Nancy Sinatra.) Lou Christie is not an artist anyone pines for or writes thick volumes about, and his biggest hit was campy and terrible. Just another flake of forgettable pop culture long discarded from our collective memory. The only thing that could elevate this song would be a resurrection by the most unexpected of cult icons. Lou Christie had an admirable falsetto, but he was no match for Klaus Nomi and his classically trained countertenor. One of Nomi’s favorite artistic pursuits, when not singing actual arias, was digging up and weirding out kitschy old pop songs just like this. He was the Warhol of terrible pop songs; he took musical product that was never meant to be anything but a three minute entertainment and turned them into bizarre art. Nomi’s premature death was truly one of rock history’s great tragedies. Would that Nomi had enjoyed more time to work his magic. And would that he’d lived long enough to see himself recognized as an important figure with tendrils of influence in music, art, and fashion.

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