It goes without saying that I want to go away on Marc Bolan’s flying saucer. Take me away to an alternate universe of sex and glitter. Bolan is offering to rescue you from your mundane life; music will make you free, it will make you cool, it will take you to a higher consciousness. It’s a promise of redemption through creativity. Or just being a libertine if you’re not the creative type. That’s really all rock music ever had to offer, its one big idea; self-expression as sea change. Can we thank rock music for the way we understand our identities today? The idea that who you are means something. Create yourself and you create the world.
You can tell by the title that this is a T. Rex song. You may also guess that the seriousness of the song is inverse to the lengthiness of the title. And, if you’ve spent time listening to the Zinc Alloy album, you can hear Marc Bolan’s hubris. Bolan was, musically, trying out bold new directions, incorporating elements R&B into his usual electric boogie, making ‘blue eyed soul’ into a thing. But lyrically and conceptually he was just throwing random things off the top of his head. It’s like he thought he could continue to produce gibberish and still remain a glittery teen idol. But you can’t sustain a high roll like that very easily. It’s frustrating to think the roll T. Rex could have ridden if Bolan had just had a little more discipline, put more thought into his ideas, had some cohesion to his image. Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow – A Creamed Cage In August; it was groundbreaking music, but the entire album looked, to the browsing record buyer, like a lazy toss-off, another bloated ego project with the band’s name once again changed, the title a crib from Ziggy, and the songs obvious nonsense. Bolan shot himself in the foot when he could’ve been ahead of the curve, thus alienating his fans and allowing David Bowie to once again zoom in and steal his thunder.
I find this very campy somehow. Maybe because Bolan is singing in a slightly lower register than usual and sounds very mannered. It sounds like he might be making fun of serious singers who sing about pain and love. Or he could be trying to take a more serious tone. But it’s hard to tell; Marc Bolan was, despite his penchant for glitter, not actually a very campy person. He was kind of an earnest guy; he had a lot of ego and he took his own greatness quite seriously. It’s very hard to tell if he ever realized how silly he was. Which is odd, because he often cut a pretty ridiculous figure and, God bless him, his lyrical oeuvre resembles the doodling of a nerdy 8th grader. In fact, it’s part of Bolan’s charm that he pulled it all off with the absolute conviction of someone who saw himself as an icon.
Three minutes with Marc Bolan, who remains one of the great icons. In my book he’s among the very top echelon of rock stars, and if reality has left him in relative obscurity, then reality is wrong. As it so frequently is, and must be escaped, but that’s another story. As reality stands, I have been busy and neglectful, and fallen behind on my updates, and I’m sure you miss me very much, and I apologize. So cheer yourself up; go buy a T.Rex album.
The Slider is so chock-full of hits. It’s one of those records where every song deserves to be a huge hit. The bar is so high that songs which would be the highlight of any other record get relegated to second-tier. I think this song is fantastic, but it’s definitely overshadowed by the bigger, louder, more hard-rocking numbers. Marc Bolan really amped up the energy for this record, keeping up a winning streak. However, I do like Bolan in pensive mode, and this song helps keep the balance. Honestly, all I can say is that it’s just a perfect record, a rare deal.
Electric Warrior, one of the most perfect records ever made. Without question or doubt. And honestly, there really aren’t that many. Not that many records that I can come back to again and again in every conceivable mood and always find them meaningful and refreshing. T. Rex had a high average of records that place well up on the list of necessary life necessities (and a number of sore disappointments too, unfortunately) but this is definitely the place to start.
Marc Bolan has been a constant companion. I can’t say I went through a T.Rex phase; my entire life has been a T.Rex phase. So this takes me back to all the times in my life I’ve turned to Electric Warrior. Bolan wasn’t always a consistent artist. Sometimes his work did disappoint. But Electric Warrior fulfills every need, as few albums manage to do. You can dance or meditate or bang or drink tea to it with equal pleasure. It’s not just the comfort of familiarity. It’s the capacity to reveal new answers as the listener seeks them that elevates good music into great art.