Saturday, October 16, 2004

spent the past hour reading theories of Bush wired for sound at Is Bush Wired via Pelican Dreaming. many write like conspiracy theorists but the photos of the squareish bulge on the back of Bush during the first debate are compelling.

* * *

the quaintness of any avant-garde work is perhaps an inevitability, via this post by Geof Huth. the problems of shock and novelty is that works that shock and are new don't remain that way.


I grew up on punk rock of the early 80s, what was dubbed hardcore: short, short songs of around 300 beats-per-minute, where the vocals often were screams and growls and the music was a basic three-chord simple structure.

and yet, much of that music to me is unlistenable. its shock has since long worn off, and I never thought I'd see the day when Iggy Pop's (a veteran punk many of us loved) song "Lust for Life" would be used for Carnival cruises.

Marie Osmond singing a punk song, much less reciting a sound poem by Hugo Ball as being a punk project, surely is the bottommest of the very bottom of the chummed waters of pop.

much of the nihilism evident in the music and its followers was just so much posturing. the symbol every punk had either tattooed or marked on his/her jackets, shirts, pants or black Converse hi-tops was the Circle A: anarchy. here is an snippet of utter futility in lyrics from a terrific SF band, FEAR:

I Love Livin' in the City

My house smells just like a zoo
It's chock full of shit and puke
Cockroaches on the walls
Crabs crawling on my balls
Oh! I'm so clean-cut
I just want to fuck some slut

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I quoted that from memory, and given what is played on the radio and TV today it ain't too shocking. but it pissed off and disturbed my parents to no end.

at any rate, there were some great bands that emerged from the movement. the wonderful Husker Du from Minneapolis was a collection of extreme talents that pushed out and exploded the often insular worlds of punk and mainstream musics. tho they too never veered too far from traditional song structures and melodies. however, it was their musicianship, and the need to take risks, that foregrounded much of what is now played on MTV. I do not meant to suggest Husker Du thought of itself as an avant-garde band, or that it was so influential that musicians could not imagine doing what they do today if it weren't for Husker Du. I do mean to say that the avant-garde makes its meanings in subtler ways.


there is a favorite song of mine by Husker Du. it is a cover of The Byrds' "Eight Miles High". it is speeded up and hardly recognizable as being a song by The Byrds. the song, as I understand it, is about being high on drugs, but it is an anthem from the era of hope, violence, idealism and change. I have the sensation that singer Bob Mould was absolutely offended by Reagan's America, and disillusioned that the hippie ideals became slush in the 1980s. so that Mould stops singing the lyrics by the end of the song and screams powerfully, in anger and frustration. the song collapses from its own momentum. the screams end as screams must end. and it doesn't fail to move me each time I hear it.


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