1989: Charts Mean Nothing (2)

Sometimes you just know.  In two bars of a song.  You know that someone has made magic.  They have found a way to express love, and hope; a way to communicate and enact reaching beyond yourself and being connected to something that makes you whole.  I only needed to see the video for She Bangs The Drum once.  I only needed to hear the opening of I Wanna Be Adored, and the sudden double snare and cymbal crash that launches the song to have the whole album engraved in me.

Later, it was the long outward jam of I Am The Resurrection that obsessed me.  It’s a spiraling piece of spun musical gold that is irresistible.  Magic is the right word.  How does it work?  Music?  How did it take me, a lumpy, monosyllabic boy with plastic rimmed glasses and a mop of hair and make me want to dance, to leap about the room, to imagine flight, and touch joy?

This album is the light you can put with the darkness of Bleach.  Stretch out your arms.  Stretch them out as wide as you can.  You touch, with the tips of the fingers of one hand, the sun coming up, The Stone Roses, Waterfall.   With the tips of the fingers of your other hand? The shadows. Negative Creep.  Between those two songs there sits all the range of the music that came to mean the most to me.  More shadow than light perhaps, but some light was afforded.

But it was a specific kind of brightness.  It’s not Walking on Sunshine.  It’s those two songs I started with.  The grandness and exhilaration or the urge to dance.

I Am the Resurrection. At 3:38.  A fairly ordinary song has almost ended in some brisk chords and snare before the bass changes its mind about everything and starts vamping the next section.  The drummer joins – tapping at the top of the hi-hat – and the guitar’s whistling feedback turns its attention, and stutters into life as the whole band drops deep into the pockets of funk.  Rock funk.  You can get from this, with some more tightening, to Rage Against the Machine.  But let’s not.  Analyse it.  Let it spin and spin you around, let’s see you playing air guitar to every lick, let’s see you playing air drums to the cymbal crashes, let’s see that overbite and head nod for the bass riff.

It’s hard for me to leave this alone.  Hard to end on the positive.

After the music there was just me again.  That lumpy, monosyllabic, mopey kid.  The imaginary freedom and light dissipating into the bedroom walls.  I went after it though.  I wanted more.  Chasing more music, making a band, trying to find the escape routes.  And I did find them.  In the band I was in.  You could go ever further into the music.  You could actually forget yourself.  Actually disappear.  Every ending of a song you were making could be like waking from a dream: disorientated, calm and free.

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John-Paul

I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō