A documentary investigating Nigerian musician William Onyeabor, a man shrouded in mystery and myth. Directed by Jake Sumner (Alldayeveryday) the film tells the story of a label’s attempt to track William down, speaking to fans such as Damon Albarn, Caribou and Femi Kuti and travelling to Nigeria to meet those who’ve worked with him in a bid to uncover the truth about his story.
Rock My Religion
1983-84, 55:27 min, b&w and color, sound
Rock My Religion is a provocative thesis on the relation between religion and rock music in contemporary culture. Graham formulates a history that begins with the Shakers, an early religious community who practiced self-denial and ecstatic trance dances. With the “reeling and rocking” of religious revivals as his point of departure, Graham analyzes the emergence of rock music as religion with the teenage consumer in the isolated suburban milieu of the 1950s, locating rock’s sexual and ideological context in post-World War II America. The music and philosophies of Patti Smith, who made explicit the trope that rock is religion, are his focus. This complex collage of text, film footage and performance forms a compelling theoretical essay on the ideological codes and historical contexts that inform the cultural phenomenon of rock `n’ roll music.
I heard some really great music today in the men’s bathroom of the Hyatt Place Salt Lake City conference room, which I utilized several times as I attended an all-day Microsoft Innovative Educators training being hosted there. The music was so stellar I was tempted to cut class just to stay there and absorb those golden tones.
The first time I went in, in the morning, I heard the dramatic close of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America.” But that was just a taste of the vintage AM Gold to come. It was followed by the incredibly emotional country pop ballad, “Please Come to Boston” by Dave Loggins:
I was very pleased to come across this song; It is probably the best of its kind I’ve heard since Michael Martin Murphy’s “Wildfire,” which I have little doubt in my mind must have endowed that men’s bathroom with its haunting and mysterious tale of snowstorms paranormal horses at some other point during the day, though I did have the opportunity to hear it myself. Here is video for that song with lots of pictures of horses:
On my second visit to the restroom, I was pleasantly surprised to find the the Hyatt Place DJ (they no doubt have one on staff, an automated service could never have curated such a powerful playlist) not only embraces 1970s Country Pop crossover, but they soft and easy disco pop of Bee Gees younger brother Andy Gibb’s “I Just Want To Be Your Everything:”
But it was my final visit to the men’s room, at the close of the day, that brought the true musical revelation, a track so incredible and incredulous that I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t heard it myself echoing from the tiles and the stalls. It began innocuously enough, an instrumental track with extensive saxophone soloing in a rather conventional smooth jazz style. However, the track had two distinctive elements that stood apart from typical smooth jazz: a stuttering bass drum beat and a unique but incessant flute refrain. A unique and incessant flute refrain that sounded uncannily like the flute refrain in Jay-Z’s 2000 Timbaland-produced single, “Big Pimpin.'” Could it be possible that muzak versions of Jay Z songs have actually been synthesized and recorded? Could it be possible that such muzak could be viably played alongside classic 70s pop, and in such an institution as the Hyatt Place Salt Lake City?
Yes. It is real, and it is happening. If the YouTube video isn’t enough for you, please refer to the album Smooth Jazz Tribute to Jay-Z by the Smooth Jazz All Stars on Spotify. Thank you to the Internet, thank you to the Smooth Jazz All Stars for this incredible tribute, and thank you most of all to the Hyatt Place Salt Lake City for pumping such wonderful music into your conference room restrooms. I can’t wait to hear what is playing there tomorrow.
Right now I am putting the bulk of my spare creative energies into Okapi Robot Tree, a blog I recently created to explore children’s literature. You should probably leave this page and check it out to see what I am up to: http://kidlit.froztfreez.com/
This morning at 3:10 A.M. I was awoken by the sound of my son singing/groaning, and I quickly realized that he was performing a startlingly faithful rendition of the repeating vocal sample used in the classic Arrested Development song “Mr. Wendal.” I went in and there he was, happily sitting up in his crib awake, continuing his homage to that great philosopher-hobo. It sounded exactly like this:
In our family, we also make it a practice to slightly modify the lyrics of “Mr. Wendal” to refer to one of Virginia’s heroes, Sister Wendy. Perhaps this is how the young lad has developed such a love for the song.
They don’t make them like this anymore. I came across this when I was a Mormon missionary, circa 2000. It was dubbed onto an old VHS I found in a ward meetinghouse library in Reynoldsburg, OH. I’ve never been able to find it again, but I recently was reminded of this movie and thought to check for it on online, and found it in seconds. Weird to realize that in 2000 there was no such thing as finding or streaming a video online; now you can find almost anything.
The church remade this movie in the 80s and I think they still distribute that version, but it fails to match the weirdness and mystery that you will see here. I love the surrealist/proto-psychedelic moments. To a 21st century father, the scenes of the birth and the babies in the hospital feel almost dystopic, but I guess that’s just how they did things back in the 1950s and 1960s in America. There’s many other priceless moments, such as the awkwardness and bad acting of the old moustached guy as he is welcomed into the afterlife by his various kindred dead.
Plus, as weird as it all is, I think it’s also true. I sometimes have a desire to be both ironic and sincere at the same time. At no time is that feeling more relevant than as I watch this film.