Thursday, July 06, 2006
Truer Words were ne'er spake
There is a theory that states that bands named after places invariably suck, and the bigger the place they’re named after the worse they suck. Which would explain why Boston is better than Kansas, why Nazareth is better than Alabama, and why the Ohio Players and Styx and Chicago are all better than Asia – who will have to live with the shame of being the biggest (and hence worst) place-named band until someone starts a group called Milky Way or Line at the DMV.
America (the country) is pretty big and America (the band) was pretty mediocre. They had a string of hits in the 70’s, starting with “Horse With No Name”, which was all over the radio back in those days despite having lyrics like “The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz” “heart made of ground” and my favorite: “the heat was hot.” After nine days (or what seems like nine days to the listener) the singer lets that horse he was too lazy to name go free “because the desert had turned to sea.”
Obviously the fly had the right idea, you’re going to have a pretty good buzz to make any sense out of this. And most of America’s song’s were just as lucid. In “Sandman” the titular character is described as “(flying) the sky like an eagle in the eye of a hurricane that’s abandoned.” Now, c’mon guys, if y’all know how to abandon a hurricane you should have shared that information with people along the Gulf Coast.
And even when their lyrics make sense they’re morally questionable. I don’t understand how come Ozzy Osbourne used to get in trouble for allegedly encouraging suicide, but nobody said a word when America told all the Lonely People that they should “drink from the silver cup and ride that highway in the sky.”
I heard an America song the other day – “Tin Man” – and while most of it consisted of their usual lyrical coherence (”Smoke glass stain bright color; Image going down, down, down, down; Soapsuds green like bubbles”) – there was one line in the song that struck me as not only meaningful but true and profound (if grammatically indefensible.) The line is “Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have.” I’ll write more about the metal man from Munchkinland later, but for now I’ll just say that Nick Chopper, the Tin Man, is one of my favorite fictional creations ever, one heck of a good role model, and America was right – he didn’t need anything that Oz had to offer.