Saturday, October 30, 2010
The former is a Detroit-based quartet that blends in atmospheric psychedelia to propulsive, groove-heavy shoegaze rock. Sort of like (the latter,) KISS, they have a quiet, unassuming, virtuoso-type lead guitarist who doesn't sing much with Oblisk, if at all... But that's where sort-of's cease.
But, my silly self can't help but picture some Ace Frehley trip when I heard that said-Oblisk guitarist, Mr. Nick Baran, had been working on a solo record over the summer. Now it's done.
And, just like, as I understand it, KISS fans were pleasantly surprised when Frehley did the same solo thing in 1978 (alongside the less impressive three other respective efforts of KISS members), I was equally taken aback by the freshness and the beauty of Baran's compositions. The space, the delicacy, the clattery synth-n-drum shambles...
Heretofore Oblisk records and performances had the tall, lean guitarist slipping into Greenwood-esque trances as he tore into the instrument, blurring but percise, with blazing guitar solos that would swirl out with head-swimming tone modulation and growl with the stomp-released fire from a platter of peddles.
And yet, on Superficial - (a self-release you can check out here) he ends up going deeper into the trip-hop and ambient pop; darker, ethereal realms that mash together cymbal shears, clattering sequenced beats and a bending/swaying resonant bass groove. Sensibilities akin to the cloud-surfing chill-out nocturnes of Massive Attack get mashed up with scuffed, clangy noise-pop stir ups ala Jesus & Mary Chain. But what really throws me for a loop are the wafting, soft-brushed rainy day gleams like "Sleepwalker." The guitarist gets to heavily flex his penchant for the fuzzy magic of the synthesizer and showcase his own disarmingly pretty baritone croon.
Check out this fine centerpiece
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
McCarthy is joined here by: Nils Frykdahl - with: Meredith Yayanos, Kirana Peyton, Cornelius Boots and Mark Stikman
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Wearing protective goggles and enhancing headphones, mixed all these serene wavy sounds and sensibilities together together to form a dizzying washed-out sound that floats dreamily, rocks gently and shunts in a few curiosities of cosmic noise.
Monday, October 25, 2010
With such a fertile music scene here in Detroit, the "concerts" themselves blur into invigorating costume parites for musicians, with parades of bloated bills showcasing 6, 10, 15!! bands in one night. Understandably, local performers bottle-neck their way in and onto these seasonal spooktacular line ups simply because it's so much fun. Not only the opportunity to dress up, to perform for your local music scene on such a characteristically freak-exploding night, but to also enter the minds, bodies, and choruses of some of your favorite bands from days gone by.
Live Guitar Hero...almost.
(Mummies pic by Lo-fi Bri)
And yes, nostalgia plays heavily into it... but nostalgia inevitably plays into any of our 20/30-something office day job-fried minds who continue to get a renewed thrill this time of year for Halloween-angled goings-ons.
Because, face it, you air-guitared to "Say It Ain't So" by Weezer... and you know all the words to "Boys Don't Cry" by the Cure and would revel at the chance to belt it out... and, wouldn't it be weird and cool at the same time to hear a local band cover "Tonight Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins?
In any case - nostalgia aside - I have to incant: The last two Crofoot Halloween extravaganzas provided me with a handful of performances that I still regale, to this day, some of the best I've seen in years...
1. Bars of Gold as Talking Heads... just a staggering performance, start to finish, whilst also putting their own characteristic touches upon these tunes. We all tripped out on some "Stop Making Sense" transcendence.
2. Child Bite as Nirvana... people lost their shit... Because, realize: A.) We had a crowd that'd been downing High Life's for four hours - B.) with many of them at-or-under 25 years of age and thus having never "seen" Nirvana live and thus are quite influential to see this experience through drunk-goggle-hallucination and suspend their belief for it to be the genuine article... and C.) these raucous rockers get up in costume (with blonde wigs) and rock through some mosh-friendly Incesticide material. (no video survived).
Ever see a band cover Outkast for an entire set? Did you miss Pixies on their reunion tour? Wanna see along to "Peaches" by Presidents of the United States of America?
10/29 - Crofoot in Pontiac
Child Bite- Black Sabbath
Cold Men Young - Outkast
Silent Years - Madonna
Prussia - Pixies
Silverghost with the Kickstand Band - the B-52s
Marco Polio and the New Vaccines - the Cure
Grand Dad Crunk and Gary Indianapolis - MSTRKRFT
Fawn - Smashing Pumpkins
Macrame Tiger - The Presidents of the United States of America
Back to the River, Back to the Forest with Jameson Blade - Spinal Tap|
Von Pontiac Family Singers feat. Members of Wilson, the Deltas and Erno the Inferno - Beastie Boys
Woodman - The Mummies (pictured above^)
The Marvins - Cake
Big Mess - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
School of Rock - Blues Brothers
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Drunken Barn Dance
Saturday, October 23, 2010
The latest Detroit Free Press report says the multi-stage concert/variety show/freakshow wonderland will instead be hosted at the Fillmore Detroit. Ticketholders planning on attending the mandatory-costume outdoor concert were asked to stay tuned to Theatre Bizarre's Facebook for further updates, as The Detroit Fire Department and the city's Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department weren't budging on allowing the event to proceed tonight, as previously scheduled.
This haunted house meets backyard bonfire as presented as a serial killer's escapist fantasy world through installation art and performance art, has been a renowned Halloween institution for 10 years, on West State Fair. The downfall, said organizer Ken Poirier, was due it's elaborate (and largely-attended) event being hosted in a residential area, coupled on top of the hazy area of serving alcohol (with disputes going back and forth as to whether they are "selling" it or "giving (it) away."
While this morning's Free Press used the word "likely," the Detroit News reported that the event "is moving" to the Fillmore.
Best to check Theatre Bizarre's Facebook regularly, especially if you're a ticket holder, as the passes are "non-refundable regardless of circumstance."
Friday, October 22, 2010
Drums. Okay. But some bongos too.
The ornate tones and flitting buzz of the accordion could set you at a Paris Cafe, the soulful croon of the vocals over a rich and sonorous piano spill may set you inside some candle-lit lounge.
The swell and swoon of their harmonies atop the roaring saw of the strings may trip you out and off into fuzzier, ethereal daydreamy realms.
With half it's members culled from all around the country, (thus utilizing the unique jazz, folk and blues sensibilities of both New York and New Orleans), it's founding members and main writers came out of Minneapolis. For almost 5 years now, they've established themselves as consummate crafters of a gothic folk style, stalwart orchestral gypsy pop balladeers.
With Wild Go, their 3rd proper release, they are, for the first time, sufficiently bolstered by six contributors/collaborators (where as before it went from two, initially, then to a quartet). With bass, trumpet, clarinet, violin, and, of course, the accordion and piano, they're able to establish that soft-brush beauty with a blustery-crescendo brio, and then transcend it with an even more layered sound, more of an atmospheric surge with these spruce crafted string instruments purring, these piano tones, delicate but commanding with their lingering echo, and the cheery moan of a trumpet or clarinet.
"In Your Dreams" bounces and shimmies over bongos and an arresting accordion sashaying it's unique buzz under the groups harmonizing "ooohs." You think you're on some fun chamber-pop kick until that violin swings in and just cuts into you and they throw in some charming finger-snaps.
Charm? While the beauteous vocals croon and nod along atop a rippling cello pluck with "Celebrate," we can also experience the most mesmeric of accordion melodies, yes--that's right, get into it!--and the whole steadily wobbling/shuffling beat is warmed by their harmonies.
It's an old-world-y type trip, yes, but the strength here is the intricacy of their (still yet evolving) songwriting.
Where the Wild will go... 4303 W. Vernor - Detroit
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Which, by doing so, would vindicate a band like Small Black...
This Brooklyn based quartet could risk falling in with the rest of those day-glo electro-pop darlings of the bedroom-composer-heralding blogs, but, as a fleshed out live band with drum n' bass sutured into their synth storms and accentuated by echoy-loops and fuzzed out vocals, they seem to reach a bit further back than their contemporaries, father back than a mere reconstructed and recallibrated ebullient 80's dance pop.
There's is more towards the murkier, proto-electro-pop sound; perhaps, a Low-era David Bowie (take the weird, nauseating intro of "Photojournalist"). Or, even better, if you want to loop 'em in with anyone - toss them closer to Future Islands' lot (the shimmying beat and shining guitars of "Search Party" - (listen) )capture a sound that makes them seem like potential distant cousins). But still, other songs will just feel too "drenched" by a Washed Out-type sound ("Goons") or maddeningly toe-the-line between distinctive and derivative ("New Chain)."
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
+the band's site
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
with: Sheefy McFly and the Deloreans & Switch Palace.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Above are only some of the images likely to be on display at the School of Rock in St. Clair Shores (29635 Harper). The commendable School of Rock House Band will open things up, leading into their own personal pick for a Halloween performer, Carjack - on 10/23
The day before that, back in Detroit, we will witness what is now the third year in a row of bands taking to adopting their own "costumes" via cover performances (of other hallowed bands, like the Cramps, or Talking Heads...or...pictured - Silverghost as DEVO).
This year, on 10/22 at the Lager House - the B-52's are unveiled featuring Silverghost, the Kickstand Band and esQuire-
Also, look for another performance from the B-52s and about 15 other "costumed" bands - at the Crofoot, on 10/29.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Growing Up On Nevermind
Long Whisker - Huge Power
Part of my own personal thrill at finding songwriters like Lou Barlow or David Berman was the feeling of finding a new kind of voice. Though their voices were low, somewhat limited and plain-ish, it might be weird to imagine them feeilng revalatory - but they did, for me.
It was like a new kind of folk style - wrung, dusted and matted with this haze-laden aesthetic (now so characteristic to percpetions of a 90's sound) known as "indie..."
A new and, in fact, refreshingly weird-ified kind of blues style.
A new blues style that spoke to the myriad pockets of post-college heart-heavy drifters scavenging food-court-like city streets for part time jobs to facilitate their incorrigable love for writing or recording or singing or playing.
A new blues that smacked of the burnt crusty residue along the pot lid of the post-everything-music-stew, and a new folk that could help this Generation-Why find it's own kind of voice and it's own musical transendence. That's what I heard in Barlow's everyman sing-speak style, resonating with a punctured heart (be it from the fury of a lady, personal finances or the universe) and that's what I heard from Berman, a true poet, whose words could cast portraits so tangible they'd be like snapshots in my back pocket or conjure surreal metaphors so evocative that it'd felt I'd seen them in my dreams one night.
That everyman voice. Those portraits evoking bittersweet imagery of smog churned city streets and a warm comforting shower of golden acoustic strumming intermingled with the more spurring burn of the electric guitar. It's what I've found in Long Wisker.
Particularly moving is their spill of words that, like the indie aristocrats named above, make the austere and the brooding quite relatable, lyrics that coat the age-old tales of heartbreak and blur them beautifully with equivocal poetics.
Heartfelt. Bare-bones. Guitars and Harmonies.
Huge Power's packed with toe-tapping, hook-based, folk-ish rock songs, with the lead singers/guitarists/writers Jim Cherewick and Reagan Sova achieving that unique kind of harmony (with their voices already sounding somewhat close in range and tone) less that percise Beatlesy-hold-your-hand-type mark and more of a feeling, a semblance, a sitting around the campfire type of belting, less traditional harmony and more a duet.
A shambly, surfy sound; strutting and strumming, but subdued and serene - Americana dashed with indie-pop, a filtration of those literate 90's troubadors and their weird takes on folk and blues, a straight from the gut--or the heart-- type of sound.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Night Owl's Delight - I should probably give you more credit and admit that an album title such as this probably gives it away, that this is a dandy night album.
Sun Airway find that mystic clearing between the forests of shoegaze and dream-pop, where they galvanize and embody that sort of magical time of night where one feels as though they could fray, fuzz and fragment away into a lulling, trancey daze - some sort of half-exhausted natural high, just past midnight when sleep is surrendered and we pause at otherwise disregarded marvels like gaping ambience of faded-glow star sheets above...
Heh. Rather - it's a very evocative, smooth waving sound, drenched in ethereal electronics. Where this Philly duo (and touring quartet) could set themselves apart is the distinctively indie-rock sound of it's production; the vocals, inevitably recalling the sort of mumbly urban poet drawl (of a Reed or the more recent cribbings of a Casablancas), are, with some exceptions, often up front and clear(ish), avoiding the over-drenching of vocoder or echo - a nice balance; while the more ambient sawing drones of the synthesizers may wail in a dizzying atonal storm, they never incur the noise-ish rath of feedback indulgence or a too-heavily spread reverb layer.
It's swaying hooks, easy going/driving beats and subdued, drifting melodies sever it from the murky n' mystic pools of druggy dream pop (even though its effervescent electronics and bedroom-dancing facillitating beats may bear certain resemblances), the heart of their sound and song crafting, instead, seem to be lean closer to the melody devotee movement of the upper end of our most recent decade - which is where early comparisons, only somewhat justified, to Animal Collective come in... But one could take A Sunny Day In Glasgow and wipe away that sounds sometimes foggy reverb and disorienting echo-loop - and combine that with Delorean but tone down some of the more sugary or bombastically dance-pop pulsing beats - and just find a nice middle ground... a clearing in the dreamy electro woods.
And this is, indeed, an album for the night. These layered churning sounds of synthetic crickets and droney shushing of digitized tree branches swaying evoke an airy detachment towards "Infinity"...and being "Swallowed By The Night.... wish(ing) to be swallowed by the moon...just a couple astronauts who won't be coming home soon..."
A refreshing kind of escapist pop. Where we escape into the night. When all the lights start to turn off and all the humans go to bed - that, that is the time when the electronic music always seems most appropriate, melodious machines turn on and replace the noisy mechanized bluster of cars and fluroescents and air conditioners.
Turn on your synthesizers, "Put The Days Away!"
"...drowned in the moonlight eyes..."
10/27 - Magic Stick
Watch: Sun Airway - "Infinity"
Friday, October 15, 2010
Paired with the heart-heavy indie pop of The Cold Wave, and the bluesy spilled out ebullience of Illy Mack.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
And, why bother writing about a show that's already sold out?
Well, that's to be expected when it's one of Michigan's favorite sons.... at least the son that dabbles in quirked out baroque-bolstering austere-ish, splendorous poetic folk pop. Sufjan Stevens.
His latest releases, first an 8-song EP (the staggering orchestral wobbly willow of the All Delighted People EP - "a dramatic homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui, and Paul Simon's "Sounds of Silence"") + and a full-length LP (the echoey beat-laden, electric fuzz spilled waft of the Age of Adz LP), stirred a considerable tilt of the head, cock of an eye brow, scratch of the head, from those who'd come to associate the songwriter with some sort of post-apocalyptic internet-scorched Folk reimagining.
Read the review from Paste where Stevens details the effect of last year's BQE project for the Brooklyn Academy of Music upon his perception of a song and his approach to writing.
This was a healthy jolt, in the end. Stevens' sound, particularly the coalescing perception, style and shared sounds of the Michigan-Illinoise records, had made his name into some sort of quick and dirty descriptor to sum up the followers of the considerably unique neo-folk trail he blazed.
Now... what do you call him?
Tonight - Royal Oak Music Theatre - (got a ticket? It's sold out)
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
With his name translating to an "in-between state" (from Tibetan Buddhism,) the writer has, through his work, embodied a vacillating, bridge-like aura.
This bridge, a moment of fleeting intersection followed by transition, from one life to the next and into a "mad experience" of rebirth, could well be the overarching motif of The Naked Myopia, (Lo & Behold! 2010) - a longtime coming debut of collected works. (available for pre-order at L&B's site)
"...into the great blue mystic / captured the reckless ambition / for the sake of controlling chaos and manipulating the mirrors of mystery." (Junkyard Spytactics p.41) - "Swim in the river of the absurd with me / wash my eyes blind from this mask I wear..." (Naked Myopia p.13)
Many of Naked Myopia's fifteen part introductory poem call out to the "Starry Eyed Angel of Eden..."
"...return to the womb of our existence / swallow the unborn dream."
Echoing his name's Buddhist connections, he conjures images of birth, rebirth, and fertility deities, with dreamlike verses incurring in-utero imagery. "The Naked Myopia" (opening poem) revolves around a strange love-hate relationship, a repudiate-yet-implore duel pronged calling out to this angel, who is simultaneously the "Eurydice" to his "Orpheus" and yet, also, a "passion thief" and "insatiable lover" with a "parasite tongue."
Myopia describes the "chimera of cruel fate." There is disappointment for what man has become, what man has done to this world, which results in expressed longing to transition to the next "birth." He sounds repulsed as he paints the apocalyptic imagery on display, whether across the montage pages of history or, live, daily, in front of the gas station down the street; and he bemoans the murderous greedy missteps of mankind
"...evaporating morality in wars for gold / oil for the political killing machine / strangling the pulse of our existence..."
In "Myopia," Bardo's angel is both an "executioner" and a "mystic healer."
In fact, she may be a tri-fecta: -at one end she will detach him from one existence and at the other she will purify him ("as she paints my dull canvas with sophisticated strokes") and, eventually, (thirdly,) completing the rebirth as Bardo slides out ("leaving me bare-assed / in puddles / to mirror the reflection of myself / the dying shepherd").
Through lines like these ^ Bardo's "bridging" can feel more like a see-saw. Certain circuitous lines amplify the dizzying "mirror" metaphor.
Bardo is candid about his feeling "alone and confused" and repeating a "reflection" back upon himself. He may return to childhood, via dark displays of pedophile haunting urban landscapes where prepubescent Bardo hides in refrigerator boxes from the fright of his fighting parents, or it may be more amorphous and stomach churning as he looks upon his current circumstance and his more recent past.
Many 30-year-olds could identify with such see-saw-esque transitory states:
But his own self-contemplation amplifies in a guttural wracking of the nerves and an overwhelming echoing of questioning; how to respond to the unnerving stare, coming back at you from the mirror.
His influences range from the vagabond poets at the fringe of Paris Salons, to the "mad to live" Beats of post-war America. His words, showing flares of romantic reverence for those lost "subterranean symphonies," are like a slow drip bleed; a tortured elegance with provacative bluntness, molded by styles and insights spanning 150 years from Rimbaud to Ginsberg, and finally up through today, ("this twentieth century strange") to galvanize his own voice. Through Myopia, he butts up against his own feelings of being "trapped by the image staring back at me in the mirror."
The bridging morphs, the reflection distorts. It becomes a mobious strip - "with death lights life / life lights with death / a fool fit for a disguise."
We return to his opening poem, calling upon the angel to "wash my eyes blind from this mask I wear..." And while he grieves over man's "breaking down nature like a silly science" and draining it's beauty "like a used condom" he, himself is painted with the mud of earthly imagery:
"cleanse my dirty water / / clean my tongue in your purified waters."
The mirror - that amorphous, clean, light reflecting, space of intersection; -
-the man looking back upon himself, the world looking back on itself-
-a thin layer between worlds that shines back -beauty and -horror equally, with earnestness.
..and through these poems, (some wallowing in despair, some seething with venom at corrupt systems, some singing out the crushed voices of hope and peace, some incurring the potential of rebirth,) it, the mirror, motivates toward transformation.
Release Party - October 26th - Loving Touch (Woodward & Troy) - Ferndale
Anonymous, one of just two shaggy beardy shredders comprising JWPP (with Jehan Dough) was, back in 2003, playing with Rome For A Day. The inaugural featured bands like Thunderbirds Are Now, Few and Far Between, and Charlevoix. “It was a celebration of Ypsi!”
Now, some of you might know Ypsi as that grayish trading post type town, an strewn with old (or closed up) auto plants and a lackluster skyline besieged by a blushingly phallic water tower.
Come… discover… how much more there is to celebrate – through three consecutive music mashed trounces through the still new-car-smelling elegance of the
2006’s show was the actual birthplace of Anonymous’ current band, JWPP. The last two years (08-09) there were no such Fests for Ypsi. Anonymous noted his appreciation for Leighton Mann (of Chapstick)’s assistance through the Elbow Room years. This year, Andy Garris (of the
So this is it-
A commendably flavorful line up
Blues…Blues n Rock…Blues n Punk….
Punk – from all angels
Electro – Dance
It’ll be interesting and weird and fun and celebratory.
Blue Snaggletooth, Lettercamp, The Muggs, The Satin Peaches, Silverghost, Beggars, JWPP, Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, Fur, Destroy This Place, Err..., Buffay, Sharky and the Habit, Red Iron Orchestra, The Wolfs, Marco Polio and the New Vaccines, Wrathgate, Annie Palmer
Red Iron Orchestra wowed at their Dally performance. Err…should be quite interesting. Beggars and Blue Snaggletooth and Electric Fire Babies are pure energy.
And Satin Peaches – hey, take a listen.
They’re going on tour soon – so, as they say, ‘see ‘em now!’ (with a 7” on the way, stay tuned).
Thursday October 14, 2010
The Boys Themselves 1:10->
Annie Palmer 12:30-1:00
Electric Fire Babies 11:00-11:30
Ola Ray 10:20-10:50
Rust County Electric 9:40-10:10
Marc Cogman 7:40-8:10
Friday October 15, 2010
Blue Snaggletooth - 12:40->
The Satin Peaches - 12:00-12:30
Beggars - 11:20-11:50
JWPP - 10:40-11:10
Sharky and the Habit - 10:00-10:30
Fur - 8:40-9:10
The Wolfs - 8:00-8:30
Saturday October 16, 2010
Lettercamp - 12:40->
Silverghost - 12:00-12:30
Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor - 11:20-11:50
Destroy This Place - 10:40-11:10
Red Iron Orchestra - 10:00-10:30
Marco Polio and the New Vaccines - 9:20-9:50
Err... - 8:40-9:10
Lawless Carver - 8:00-8:30
YpsiFest - tomorrow - Check it out - the JWPP are pure heart and a wellspring of camaraderie for this state's music community.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I'd like to hold in both hands grand conjuring of Bjork-ish sensibilities with Fever Ray-ish sensibilities and mush both of those bewitching, chilly swirled beat bristled electro storms against your ears for a splendid cerebral sandwich.
That's my instinctual blurt to acquaint you with Glasser. (Debut Ring out this week on True Panther)
Listen to my personal favorite selection from singer/songwriter Cameron Mesirow's debut, "Plane Temp" from i guess i'm floating - HERE.
Hers is a tribal space lullaby. It soars through the foggy skies of dream pop, it prances like a giltchy imp in the realms of loops, samples and beats, and it astounds via the pure beauty of Mesirow's voice.
11/12 - Pike Room (Crofoot) - Pontiac
11/12 - Pontiac, MI & Pike Room
Saturday, October 9, 2010
“The idol of today pushes the hero of yesterday out of our recollection; and will, in turn, be supplanted by his successor tomorrow.” - --Washington Irving, The Sketch Book
“Yet, if he would, man cannot live all to this world. If not religious, he will be superstitious. If he worship not the true God, he will have his idols.” - --Theodore Parker
“If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him.” - --Voltare
“…God is a concept…” – John Lennon
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” - --Albert Einstein
“Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which is everything in this world.” - --Pascal
“Imagine… s’easy if you try…” –John Lennon
I’ve now struggled through three essays on this subject – the thin line between music and apparent worship and what it means, as (music-)-listeners, to draw so much from another human, another human’s works, acts and words… his songs.
John Lennon may be the definitive idol. The. The most influential member of the most influential group, (a rock group, rock being, ostensibly, a new religion onto itself). A man and an artist whose popularity and provocations were balanced, intertwined; a man and an artist who balanced depth in talent, in universal accessibility, and in idealism.
A pop star who marched with people, megaphone in hand. An idol who turned a press conference into a globally transmitted show of protest. A dreamer who encouraged you to imagine. You’ve heard it all before.
But I wanted to know what it means now, to mark a day (forthcoming in December) of 30 years without John. (And, I remark on how commonplace it is for us, when speaking/writing of him, to simply say, “John…”). What is sadder about these 30 vacant years? The lost potential – how much more he could have done, how much more he could have said, shown us? Would we all have been stronger for it? Would we all have been closer together for it?
Is it sadder, in a way, that he has not yet been, for lack of a better word, replaced, …or, perhaps better, had his torch sufficiently revived and carried on? There’s got to be more to it than these disconcerting kinds of hullabaloo-parading-as-commemoration (namely, the aptly timed re-issues of his albums in stores, which, is just unavoidable in these big-rolling machine days of Best Buy and Amazon music sales).
But where is his torch? Was it extinguished in front of the Dakota in NY 30 years ago? Maybe it just seems that way because I slide ashamedly too easily into cynicism because I dwell too readily upon a bemusing musical landscape dotted by Gaga’s and Kanye’s and Swift’s and Dancing-with-Stars, or upon a stomach churning political landscape of vitriolic division and ever simmering international tension.
But there’s a soothing thrill knowing that you have a universal connection to what must be at least 90% of any gathered group of people inside any room you probably walk into in your daily life – that his voice has moved us all. Maybe the torch starts spreading like some divine epidemic, a transmutable inspiration fever, spreading out from the moment the world stood silent for 10 minutes, candles flickering in the early December chill of ‘80, masses huddled together and sharing grief (but also sharing reminiscences of joy) and it gets passed down to each following generation, each new listener who puts on headphones and plays back the immortal records.
John isn’t dead. He did all he did. He said all he said. And it’s forever a reference to draw back upon, a song to replay. I still get goosebumps at the replaying of “Imagine”…for whatever 300-some-odd time I’ve heard it.
I’ve been dancing around the possibility that we indulge in a religious sort of worship for our favorite musicians – but show me a religion that risks incurring the untamable muse of imagination – that, to me, is the power of John. For any pop star, any idol, any insanely admired figure, to, in a way, reflect the power, give it to you – (that war is over if YOU want it… that imagining no religion, no possessions, no countries, is easy…if YOU try). That, that sort of service of inspiration is topped upon his already noted musical talent, his sensibility for writing not only a pleasing pop song but wrapping it in such a rich style, a sense for blues as much as baroque, in a language we not only understood, but seemingly worded in a way that felt already imprinted upon our brains and already long-pumping through our hearts.
further reading - John Lennon/Yoko Ono - 1980 Interview with Playboy Magazine
Go forward. You’ve been inspired. Well… it’s easy if you try. Go forward.
John, unlike the pop stars that would follow and continue to fail in supplanting him, remains an idol we can commemorate simply by remembering his profound words, songs, actions – We don’t have to drop $75 to see him at Madison Square Gardens and hope to hear some spurring between song banter as we might unavoidably have to do with our modern glitzy Gagas; no, we don’t even necessarily have to go back out to Best Buy to buy these re-issues coming out on his birthday.
We can just remember. We can just listen (because, let’s face it, most of us probably already own these albums). We can talk to those who lived while he was alive (if you don’t have these albums, your parents probably do), talk about what he meant to them, talk about what he meant to strangers.
Is such religious-esque fever misguided? Not when it is such an indisputably humanistic, secular, altruistic message. Not when the message is something like: All you need is love.
Imagine. John’s words don’t have to be the final word. A testament. He’s inspired you. So. What’s the next word?