OUR INSANELY GREAT AWAKENING

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rock god - page 4

HEY NINETEEN

Oh, to be 19 and in hate again.

To believe there is no way to unwrong yourself or the world, so you embrace the rage, the loud clanging of despair and powerlessness which to signal to everyone, but especially yourself, that you are not happy with how everything is, even if there’s nothing you can do about it.

“No I’m never bored
when im a-killin for the lord.
now ive seen the light-
hell Mary, I’ve got Jesus on my side!!”

Dark.

In the 1980s, all you needed was a howl and a guitar. Throw in suburban rage — not angst, rage — and you had an audience, at least at the blind pigs and grimy clubs that dotted every university town. There, you could grind your teeth over fake-bleak lyrics which let everyone know that you — and all who listened — were not going to live like everyone else, not be like everyone else, not go to work like everyone else, because you were the holy Other.

The Circle Jerks — such a great band name — were perfect 80s anti-heroes. Indignant, deafening, known, but not too much, clever, almost musically gifted.

“All across the world
The holy armies on a tear
Ripping through the planet’s faiths
Population’s running scared
Christianity’s all around
Zealots they abound
I wanna blow them to pieces
Cause I…I’m…

Killing For Jesus
Killing For Jesus”

I’m too old now to partake in the charade, to feel all the world’s wrongness and feel that if I just yelled and played and sang loud enough, angry enough, and shared that feeling with fellow travelers, flesh pressed against flesh, to hear and give witness, that I could believe for all eternity that I would never change.

I can’t. But just like I can still get upset if there’s no Pepsi in the house, I can revisit that feeling, re-connect with my no-longer self, pump up the volume and escape. The Circle Jerks were nasty, angry, defiant hardcore punk. They cursed the darkness. I still listen.

Odd the things that stick to you.

TEARS IN HEAVEN

You live a good, long life, are rich, successful, loved, admired, revered by some, one of the greatest in your field, a peerless reputation.

And your beautiful boy dies at age 4.

You would trade everything you have, everything you’ve received, everything you’ve ever done.

But your son won’t come back, ever.

All you can do now is pray that maybe somehow, though you don’t deserve it, though you received your rewards on Earth, in life, that maybe God might see to it to let you just visit heaven, that’s all.

“Time can break your heart, have you begging — please.”

Eric Clapton is not god, nor you.

Start now on the deserving.

A LONG WAY BABY

Katy Perry is a woman. Is Selena Gomez?

She looks 17 — to me. But, fair enough, she’s an adult, a sexual being. I’m no prude, nor she, it seems.

But I hate this.

It sounds like a child, a young child — talking about needing to, hoping to engage in illicit sex.

A sickness in our society, this overt, gleeful and incessant demand to sexualize children.

Don’t feed it, don’t support it, do what you can to destroy it.

“Preacher man walked into the club and he said he said
Hey girl can’t you walk and not stray
Father I’m torn and I’m selling my soul to the
Rhythm, the beat and the bass cause I cant
Confess my rock and roll ways
Cause I’m so possessed with the music
The music he plays

I cant stop my feet from dancin to the sound of his drum
Oh no I fell in love with my rock god
I cant keep my hips from swayin’ to his sweet melody
You see I fell in love my rock rock god”

The deliberate juxtaposition of the sexualized lyrics and the child-like voice — in a song marketed to children, sanctioned by adults, played on repeat — invites God’s wrath.

Here’s Katy Perry’s version. Be warned, both suck.

LEARNED TO HATE THE RUSSIANS

The revolution was televised — and still nobody saw it coming.

It came through words, sounds — not the images.

“Oh, the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh, the country was young
With God on its side”

Wow.

Bob Dylan is an old man now, but wasn’t always. Once he was young and new, which meant better in his world, and he and all those like him, those borne of the great war but never in it, grew quick to reject the past and its lies and its lies about its lies — yet they never fully recognized the turmoil, the hate and divisiveness bubbling up, with their pushing against one another and everyone from before raising the heat of the world.

They did not yet know of all the death to come.

“If God’s on our side, he’ll stop the next war.”

God did not.

Vietnam robbed the forever young of their youth.

Fast forward — always the case: Dylan is now old, his kindred are old, and it is their lies now rejected, their world being burned down, torn apart, left behind.

“Oh my name it ain’t nothing. My age it means less.”

Time puts everyone on the wrong side of history. And God never chooses sides, only people.

CLOSING IN ON DEATH

Can a masterpiece be evil?

Could gruesome make us soar?

And does art know good or bad or care?

Velvet Underground’s Heroin is a bleak, violent, thrashing, murder-suicide of an anthem, a droning, drowning, glorious fixation on self-hate, self-medicating, an escape of the now, an escape from these surroundings, an escape to all that’s next. A profound admission of vanity and weakness.

“And I feel just like Jesus’ son.”

Anointed, but without the suffering.

The brand of a generation?

Heroin is a magnum opus, a 7-minute encapsulation of the lost and excesses of the 1960s, enlightening in its lyrical revelation and fully revealing of the wayward musical talents of the group. It may be my favorite song ever, as much as I deride its message and all that led to its creation. But that threatening drumbeat, that eager guitar, the curious viola, a rhythmic intensification of life lived fast and wrong, which still all soon goes to hell, culminating in a crescendo of alt-pop madness

“Then thank God that I’m as good as dead.”

“And thank your God that I’m not aware.”

“And thank God that I just don’t care.”

Simply one of the greatest Rock God compositions ever, a track so perfect that it can’t be unheard, nor ignored, and which demands you affirm its greatness, despite the profound flaws. Velvet Underground tried for the kingdom, stormed the gates, and died in a righteous fury. They did not nullify their life.

DEVIL OR ANGEL?

“You look like an angel. Your smile is divine.”

Imagine being young and in love and its America and its the middle 1950s, an innocent, bountiful future gently pulling you along. The Clovers gifted us all a doo-wop classic, an enchanting tune of love in bloom and lasting happiness uncertain, a harmonious melodious refrain that transports us back to the very start of rock and roll, when time was not as long but much much deeper.

“Devil or angel dear, whichever you are, I miss you, I miss you, I miss you.”

I miss doo-wop.

Born too late.

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