Month: March 2015

Minstrel in the Gallery

My big realization while watching that video; how much Ian Anderson reminds me of Graham Chapman. He really does appear to be the manifestation of how you’d imagine Monty Python would portray a wild and crazy rock star (though, of course, they inexplicably never went there.) So, for those of you who think Jethro Tull is silly; yes, that they are. They’re very silly, but it’s not an unintentional silliness. Ian Anderson understood very well that you can’t just flaunt your high levels of virtuosity; and churn out epic songs that contain more ideas than most bands come up with in a lifetime; and proselytize about class and society and the evils of organized religion; and write odes to all of you favorite animals; and still be stuffy and egoistical enough to expect to be taken seriously. The expectation of accolades is the kiss of death. I do take Jethro Tull very seriously, for achieving all of the above, obviously, and because I love the theatrical, which Anderson has a deep understanding of. I’ve always thought that any musician who doesn’t cotton on to the theatrical potential of what they’re doing, and fails to explore and expand in that direction, at the risk of looking like a prancing lunatic, well, honestly, those people deserve less respect, not more.

Minneapolis

Ready to feel depressed? Lucinda Williams has you covered. Williams long ago proved herself one of the highest masters of documenting every conceivable shade of misery. Because misery isn’t always the same; every hard time has its own particularity. You have to gaze into each abyss and remember it in its uniqueness. In this case, you may recall a long cold winter of the heart that comes after someone has left you. You give up waiting for that person to come back (they never do, do they?) and eventually you’re huddled down waiting just to feel something good again. And if you have to undergo that while in Minneapolis, more bad luck for you. Lucinda is a Southern girl; for her surviving the frost and windchill of Minnesota must be torture on top of torture. Even for those of us bred in permafrost, there’s something so exhausting about the act of wintering. It’s emotionally debilitating to be cold all the time, on top of the physical stress of it. And if your heart is all broken too…

Mind Games

What we think of as ‘mind games’ are the manipulative shitty things people say to each other (especially in relationships) in order to get their way and/or generate drama, but that’s not at all what John Lennon meant. His point was rather more literal; that you should playfully open your mind. If it sounds acid-baked and corny in its optimism, that may be because he first started germinating the idea back in ’69. By the time he got around to finishing and recording the song, Lennon was actually going through some difficult times in his life. In 1973 he was in and out of court trying not to get deported from the US, he was under FBI surveillance, his last record had flopped, he was drinking heavily and his marriage was on the rocks. He didn’t have much to be exuberantly optimistic about. Yet he still managed to create one of his most triumphant and uplifting solo singles. There are lyrical references to all the hopeful bright things from the sixties that might have seemed goofy in hindsight, including the gallery show where he first met Yoko (YES is the answer.) You can debate whether love really is the only answer you need, but John Lennon held on to that mantra.

Mind

You know, sometimes is seems like David Byrne just doesn’t appreciate Midwestern values! Talking Heads are a bunch of snooty art school people from New York City who think they can just openly mock the flyover states. In fact, mocking people in the flyover states is one of Byrne’s favorite themes, second only to his own social awkwardness. He’s shown that he has more sympathy for deposed despots than he does for Midwestern suburbanites. And here he is making an irony of the noble American tradition of door-to-door proselytizing. Which basically has nothing to do with the song, but they stuck it in there. Because what squares. Some people might find such elitist tendencies unlikable, but frankly, I’m on David Byrne’s side on this. Fuck Midwestern suburbanites and living up to their petite bourgeois expectations of mental health! David Byrne and his nerdy dancing really speak to the indignation of people who, despite having all the inborn privilege of being smart and attractive and not crippled by an undesirable ethnicity, still find themselves feeling excluded from the bosom of society because they somehow still don’t know how to function like normal folks.