Bob Marley offers a plain and pithy truth: you can’t run away from yourself. End of story. That’s a truth that a lot of people are in denial about, and no amount of reggae songs or life experience will convince them to stop trying. If you know what’s good for you, though, take some life lessons from Marley. He has a lot of them to offer, about being a strong and righteous person.
This begs the question, why are dogs named Rover? I’ve never met a dog named Rover. It would be interesting to find out where that trope came from. Television, probably. Anyhow, here in this song, Ian Anderson uses a doggy metaphor to represent himself as both loyal companion, and a wild and free spirit. Which is not even all that doglike, making it a pretty weak metaphor. But it’s on point with Heavy Horses‘ animal and nature themes, which explore the tension between freedom and domesticity, and the trade-off of modern comfort vs. a harder but more satisfying un-industrialized life. The fate of lowly domestic animals is entwined with the progress of man, and while a few pampered mouses might enjoy the safety and comfort of modern man’s lifestyle, most creatures benefit from it far less than man does. Dogs certainly enjoy all of the comforts, if not more, the price for which being that dogs are as far removed from their wolfy heritage as men are from their monkey ancestors. Dogs are as neurotic, spoiled, helpless and diabetic as their human overlords. If any animal is the metaphorical symbol of the coddled and useless modern being, it’s the fat lapdog who barks incessantly at his own shadow and never sets paws outside.
Although I’m technically young enough to have discovered electronic music through through something more contemporary, I still discovered in the traditional way; through Kraftwerk. And, fun fact, this was the first Kraftwerk song I remember hearing. I think at first I mainly liked it because parts of it are in Russian. But I was also intrigued by this new way of making and presenting music; Kraftwerk offered a narrative and an aesthetic that I hadn’t encountered before. They weren’t about what most fleshbag musicians were about. They didn’t take it for granted that love and physical desire were the most interesting and important aspects of the human condition. The most interesting thing about being human is being human. As opposed to being inorganic matter. And the question is, what even is the point of being a human individual in a world where technology has taken the place of spirituality as our primary means of understanding the world? The more pressingly relevant that question becomes, the more we don’t know.
Styx is one of those guilty pleasure bands for a lot of people, but really, how could you ever feel guilty about something that’s this much fun? You can point out that their hair is terrible and their rock opera worse, but you are missing the point. You shouldn’t take them that seriously, though the question of how seriously Styx should be taken has been asked by the members of Styx, and their internal disagreement about the answer is what led to their eventual breakup. Apparently the ones who wanted to write rock operas couldn’t stop bumping heads with the ones who just wanted to play lots of guitar solos and not think about it too hard. This was before the discord, though, when the band was, presumably, all on the same page in terms of balancing their proggy conceptual leanings with their big dumb rock band side. And frankly, it’s the fact that they did lean prog and had concept album ambitions whilst also being kind of dumb is what makes them so delightful.
Rarely has the promise of a good time sounded so ominous. It’s almost like a thinly veiled threat or something. If nothing else, you have to wonder what a real good time with Lou Reed would entail, and ask yourself if you’re hardy enough for it. I mean, he almost certainly knows more about beat poetry, tai-chi and motorcycles than you do, which may make for an awkward and one-sided conversation. There may also be heroin. If I had to guess, latter-day Lou Reed probably would have been a lovely companion to go get a scone and thrift store browse with. Early Lou would just as soon kill you. Both of those sound fine. Honestly, if you just asked me over to listen to Lou Reed records, I would love you forever.
Can we rescue this from soft rock radio cliche oblivion? Or have you heard this in too, too many supermarkets? Also, can we reevaluate Eric Clapton’s legacy? Nobody really thinks he’s God anymore, thankfully. That kind of hyperbole is bound to inspire backlash, and now ‘Clapton is overrated’ is the new ‘Clapton is God.’ I’d say that Clapton falls somewhere in the middle, a bit closer to the former in my opinion. I’ve always considered him a minor artist, but I know that the world thinks he’s a major one. Though it does seem that having one great blues song and a lot of soft rock hits doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to. But maybe we can enjoy that soft rock for what it is, without spitting on it for over-familiarity.
Bruce Springsteen is very relevant right now. He’s a major American artist who never tires of reminding us that the American Dream really kind of blows. The dream has been looking particularly hollow lately, and a lot of us are feeling let down and at loose ends. We feel depressed and weak, we feel like we’re driving in circles, living pointless lives with no promise of betterment. Sometimes we secretly hope that a tornado will just come and blow us all away. Yeah, the promised land sucks. But we continue to stubbornly believe in it, because most of us ain’t got nothing better to believe in.