Marc Bolan’s boogie and hand-claps are enough to induce dizzying euphoria in any listener. It’s the absolute height of T-rextasy, feather boa and all. But if you have any time at all for thought, notice the lyrical gemwork here. Bolan is leaning hard on his usual mixed animal metaphors, because, yes, tigers are sexy and so are foxes. He is also saying, very clearly, that he plans on banging the object of his desire, even though he knows and he knows that you know, that “she’s a dude”. Now, we know with some certitude that Marc Bolan was straight, or as ‘straight’ as a guy who wore cosmetics and ladies’ shoes could consider himself to be. But it was the seventies, it was glam rock, and gender boundaries were, for the time being and in that specific context, gloriously passé. Consider it the songwriter throwing out an air-kiss to everyone who wants to bang anyone, anywhere, anytime and doesn’t care who they are or what form they’re in as long as the action is solid gold. Here’s to everyone whose sexual orientation is simply ‘horny little monkey’ and doesn’t need to be anymore complicated or specific than that.
Despite having had years to work on it, I still haven’t explored all of Neil Young’s discography. The man is truly prolific. It doesn’t help that I really just want to listen to the peak 70’s stuff. I have gotten into some of his late 80’s material, which he was putting out to relatively few accolades, and I can report that it’s pretty solid. It seems that, except for a brief weird phase around the turn of the 80’s, Young has been remarkably consistent. He likes what he likes, which is peace, love, nature, and vintage cars. He wonders about God, and man’s place in the world and where society is taking us. Sometimes he gets all riled up about everything that’s wrong in this world. (He seems to be more riled up than ever in his dotage, and who can blame him, everything just keeps getting worse.) Neil Young the hippie philosopher hasn’t changed much since we first heard his piping voice in the 60’s.
Sometimes, I get tires of thinking about the changing pace of music and culture, the confusing prism of what things mean, to whom and it what context. Fandom seem to require so much hard work and reckoning these days. Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and stop trying to be a conscientious consumer. Fuck it, sign me up for Nihilism 101. I just want to listen to the Rolling Stones in all their unrepentant glory. I want to hear Mick Jagger be a little bitch. I want music that means sex, drugs and death. Sorry, but that’s my comfort zone.
When I was in high school I spent a lot of time alone in my room listening to T. Rex records. I didn’t have very many friends, but I did have a lot of art projects. Marc Bolan was some of the best company a weird and socially maladjusted kid could have, with his soothing baby-lamb voice and personalized cosmology populated equally by talking woodland critters and sexy mamas in glitter. Bolan was quite the teen idol, in his brief heyday, but he long ago became an obscure curio. Other teen idols have cycled in and out since his time, a new one every 2.5 years or so, because teens and their burning passions have very short shelf-lives. I, meanwhile, am 35 years old now, and I still spend a lot of time alone in my apartment listening to T. Rex records. I don’t have very many friends, but a lot of unfinished art projects. There are many more things in my life than when I was 15, obviously; I have a career, I do socialize and go out sometimes, men vie for my attention, there’s a lot of new music to listen to, etc… But amidst all that, oftentimes I just want to stay home and listen to T. Rex records. Marc Bolan has been a lifelong friend, and his cosmology is part of my cosmology now. Some things in the world don’t ever change.
I have no memory of how I stumbled across this little treasure. Some random playlist or compilation package, I suppose. Wherever and however it was, though, Horace Andy’s distinctive vocals drew me in. It’s always nice to make an obscure discovery, though Horace Andy is actually well known enough among aficionados as a roots reggae trailblazer. He was a main player on the scene in the early 70’s when reggae music was breaking out of Jamaica and gaining worldwide popularity. Andy obviously never found the recognition that some of his other peers did, but he helped form the sound that we all know and love. He also found a second wave of fame later in life for his collaborations with Massive Attack, so he’s got that going for him, and unlike many of his more famous peers, he is very much still alive.
Are you really a reggae fan if you don’t know The Harder They Come? We talked about this a few days ago, and I had to admit that I’m hardly an expert. But, damn, talk about a stone cold classic. It’s a rare phenomenon when the soundtrack album for a low-budget foreign movie becomes on of the best albums of all time. (Or any movie soundtrack, not for lack of trying by Gen X hipster film directors.) I haven’t listened to this record in a criminally long time, and I’m glad that I didn’t forget.
“I keep on wondering if I sleep too long, will I always wake up the same or so?” Cat Stevens asks the deep questions. Who are we and how do we navigate our journey through this world? In his case, the answer turned out to be serving God, and good for him for all that. For most of us, we’ll settle for a little light meditation and maybe make an effort to be decent. If that’s something that a pop song can invite us to do, then the singer’s job is done.