Discussion in 'General Chatter' started by Lissa Lysik'an, Mar 1, 2015.
IDK why but this song has been stuck in my head for weeks
So it turns out Britney Spears is a pretty damn decent metal vocalist:
(cw: back alley abortion, back alley surgery in general)
A friend introduced me to Joanna Newsom. Usually, quirky lady-and-piano music is my bane. I like ladies, pianos, and quirkiness, but the combination often leaves me cold. I want something with more teeth. Something I can sink my teeth into. Let's go a little bit dental here please.
Well, I can't even begin to formulate a complaint, dental or otherwise, about Joanna Newsom's music. This lady is incredible. She has a really unusual vocal style and I like it a lot. It's the sort of thing that, if she were a dude, would probably get described as "interesting" and "possessing of character", but I get the impression people tend to be a lot less open to that when it's a woman, which is really sad for them honestly. I can't imagine her songs sung any other way, and can't imagine why I'd want to. The payoff of the buildup at the end is devastating and beautiful.
But her lyrics are the very best part. They are fucking masterful. Here is Sapokanikan, a song that starts (and ends) referencing the Shelley poem Ozymandias:
Spoiler: lyrics from a kind commenter
The cause is Ozymandian.
The map of Sapokanikan
is sanded and beveled,
the land lone and leveled
by some unrecorded and powerful hand,
which plays along the monument
and drums upon a plastic bag,
the "Brave Men and Women So Dear to God
and Famous to All of the Ages Rag".
(Sing: "Do you love me?
Will you remember?
The snow falls above me.
The Renderer, renders.
The event is in the hand of God".)
Beneath a Patch of Grass,
her bones the old Dutch Master hid,
while, elsewhere, Tobias and the Angel disguised
what the scholar surmised was a mother and kid
(interred with other daughters, in dirt, in other potters' fields).
parades mark the passing of days
through parks where pale colonnades arch in marble and steel,
where all of the Twenty Thousand attending your footfall
(and the Cause that they died for)
are lost in the idling bird calls,
and the records they left are cryptic at best,
lost in obsolescence:
the text will not yield
(nor X-ray reveal, with any fluorescence)
where the Hand of the Master begins and ends.
I tried to do well, but I won't be.
Will you tell the one that I loved
to remember, and hold me?
I call and call for the doctor,
but the snow swallows me whole,
with old Florry Walker.
The Event lives only in print.
"It's alright, and It's all over now," and boarded the plane,
his belt unfastened.
(The boy was known to show unusual daring--
and called a "boy", this alderman
confounding Tammany Hall, In whose employ
King Tamanend himself preceded John’s fall!)
So we all raise a standard,
to which the wise and honest soul may repair;
to which a hunter,
a hundred years from now,
may look, and despair, and see with wonder
the tributes we have left to rust in the park:
swearing that our hair stood on end,
to see John Purroy Mitchel depart for the Western Front,
where work might count.
All exeunt! All go out!
Await the hunter, to decipher the stone
(and what lies under, now).
The city is gone.
Look, and despair.
Look, and despair.
This is so complex there are multiple long articles dissecting the references. This one is the most useful I've found.
Spoiler: about the lyrics
Sapokanikan was a Native American city that was located where Manhattan is now. There's a lot of New York history in this song. The video is shot there, and you see some of the places she mentions. It's worth watching.
There's thought to be something like 20,000 people buried in the potter's field which is now Washington Square Park, which I think was some sort of military parade ground before that. There seems to be rather a lot of debate about who exactly they were and how exactly they died. There's what looks, at least from what I've seen with my cursory research, to be perfectly reasonable speculation about who usually gets buried in potters' fields. But there also seems to be doubt about the specifics, and whether it's safe to interpret such spotty data according to what we think is the most likely, which, tbf, did lead to the "every ancient skeleton with a weapon was totally a dude" mistake.
In the park is the Washington Square Arch, which has this quote from George Washington: "Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God."
If you've watched Monster Factory you may know of the Boy Mayor of Second Life. Well, John Purroy Mitchel was the boy mayor of New York. He ran on a campaign of honesty and political reform, defeating a candidate supported by corrupt political machine Tammany Hall. His political career didn't last long. Patriotic to an apparently offputting degree, he joined the Air Service, where he died in a training exercise after falling from a plane. He apparently was not wearing a seat belt. There may or may not have been funny business involved in this. He did upset a lot of powerful people.
There are numerous references to paintings that were altered, then the alterations discovered by restorations, often using modern technology such as x-rays or fluorescence. The Dutch master is Van Gogh, who reused a canvas to paint "Patch of grass", which x-rays show to have formerly been a portrait of what appears to be a peasant woman.
Australian artist Arthur Streeton painted over a nude female figure and invisibly, except to a microscope, inscribed his work with the message, "Florry Walker's my sweetheart". The figure and the inscription were discovered by a gallery repairing bullet holes acquired when a wealthy art owner and friends got drunk and decided to try shooting the cows in the painting.
There's a painting known as Tobias and the Angel, in which someone altered a painting of a patrician lady and probably daughter to (sort of) resemble a male angel and young boy. This was also uncovered by art restoration.
To render, in arts or crafts, can mean to depict, to melt or process into components, or to cover up.
Then there's Ozymandias, Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, referenced by his Greek name in the famous Shelley poem. "The hand that mocked them", who was mocked in turn by the hand of the sculptor, via the statue's overly accurate depiction of his character flaws. But Ozymandias is dead, and his kingdom is leveled under the sands of time, and regular sand. You know, what with the desert and all. But the sculptor is dead too, and the messages of both parties are now only barely readable, and so obscure that the poem relays it as a story told secondhand.
There's a lot of hands in this song. Artists and God, and maybe some combination, but it's hard to tell, which really is part of the point I suppose.
(It also makes me think of the writing on the wall. The hand of God wrote "mene mene tekel upharsin" on the wall of King Belshazzar's palace. Daniel interpreted it as something to the effect of: your days are numbered; you have been weighed and found wanting; your kingdom will be divided between your enemies.)
There are layers and layers in this song which is about layers.
There's another well-known restoration of a painting in which a beached whale had been erased by painting over it, probably because it was considered unsightly. Except the painting's entire composition then revolved around... nothing. The absence that used to be a whale. And that's how the conversation I was having with my friend veered into a philosophical discussion of the presence of absence. Indigenous cultures, the sick and impoverished, political reformers, women, misplaced sea creatures, even kings. Being buried and forgotten can't erase the consequences of our existence. Come find us, fuckers. See if you can solve this riddle.
And on a different note, you know, I've always thought that if Ozymandias hadn't commanded you to despair, you might not have realized how many options you had about whether or not to despair, and what about.
It's a weird sort of hope.
This song is so good.
I just learned the male vocalist doing the metal growl + rap on Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life" was studio-mandated because the execs thought the song was too girly, and Amy Lee released a version last year without it.
It's late enough at night that my brain doesn't work and this deserves so much analysis I'm not qualified to give, but I'm listening to it over and over because it's amazing how different the tone of the song is.
That was the best thing since spaghetti. Thank you Ryn for my life.
this band is so good
listening to a rare non-jpop or video game bgm track for once. this is a pretty cool song
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