Punk’s epic tale
September has been an odd month for me. A personal crisis that I won’t divulge here had me darting around, mindless of many things including this blog for which I have neglected. I can now admit freely and without regret how much I love certain aspects of our culture for it’s distracting indulgence of which I have turned to several times. Thank you popular culture for letting me drown in your shallow pool.
One moment in particular shot out through the distress like a laser beam and that was Senator Bernie Sanders appearance on the weirdly seductive but also off putting new Stephen Colbert show. It’s hard to watch a hero adjust to a new cape and Stephen’s self consciousness has rattled my already unsteady self. I will not right him off since he alone has provided me with as much inspiration in the last ten years as any other contemporary art work or event ever could. Stand firm.
Bernie told Colbert that he doesn’t want corporate or Wall Street money to run his campaign. Noble yes. Naïve? The media thinks so. Words today have greater impact than they ever have. The internet is a awash with deconstructive thinking about words that are generally a misquote or misinformation or just something really stupid somebody said. Saying that you don’t want to engage the billionaire class becomes unique and challenges anyone who can’t see past their paycheck. If its money that is all that matters claiming you will attain it the hard way, through thousands of small donations is absolutely revolutionary.
But revolutionaries come from surprising places. An unlikely 70ish Brooklyn native with the chutzpah to defy conventional wisdom regarding modern politics is as unlikely as an aging female musician from Ohio who only wanted to play rhythm guitar in a band – not sleep with the rhythm guitarist in a band but actually be the guitar player. Chrissie Hynde (and if you are a friend of mine you know how I feel) is the lead singer of the rock band the Pretenders. They were mostly a British export during the punk era with an American female lead whose debut album is considered on the best debuts in rock of all time. I was the perfect responsive fan for such an event; fifteen, angry, tomboy, brunette, and preferred the company of guys than girls who always seemed to me to waste a lot of time talking about guys.
This past month she released her memoir. Very few people can claim to have been in so many right places at the right time and done so many drugs and had so much sex as this woman. Having read Hammer of the Gods and No One Gets Out of Here Alive (yes, I have thing for rock bios) I can safely tell you Chrissie gets as much action as any of those old fogies. But what makes her a revolutionary person is that the book is pretty much an ode to her muse, the lead guitar player of her dreams, James Honeyman Scott. He made her songs classics and then abruptly died after their second album. This is a remarkable love story to come from a woman because it isn’t about her being a woman at all; it’s about art and the ambition of a creative person who finds the perfect context and people to make her dreams come true.
Chrissie defies the idea of how much being a woman adds to the story of creativity. To her, gender seemed to be something that you dealt with in order to get to the good stuff like playing music. There is something willfully romantic about a person who traipses across countries to find that perfect sound, that perfect quality of music only to have it taken away the minute it culminated into a divine mixture of everything she is and the wider mystery of it all.
The story is mythic in its arc: girl leaves home forever to search for the ‘music of the spheres’, pulling together practical and tactical strategies that make the heavens open up with harmony. Yes, there’s punk music and loads of STDs and heroin but the journey still resonates the epic; a struggle to find beauty, meaning and love. Hynde credits the Bhagavad Gita for giving her confidence to align her inner voice with the external world. Many would argue that a life spent drinking and playing rock music is hardly a spiritual existence however I believe it matters not what one busies themselves with but only their karma and duty without attachment to results that matters.
While distracting myself with such things as television and a rock bio I stumbled upon some deeper ideas that I may adopt for myself; life isn’t an event, it’s a process that in turn, if you are aware of the divine, can become full of meaning.