25. Self consciousness in rock

Posted on 06/02/2017


25. Self consciousness in rock

Some singers spend their time navel gazing. The 1960’s was a good time for that. Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, James Taylor all made fortunes from it. But self consciousness in rock? Heavy metal does not do introspection. It does chest thumping testosterone driven bellowing.

That is why ‘Taking out the trash’ by Endless Boogie is so good. Even the title: who would think a chest thumper (as above) would deign to take out the trash. Kick it through the window more likely. But in this song is the startling phrase:

‘Crushing sense of shame’

This phrase leapt out of the lyric as I listened. Quite extraordinary that a chest beater should have such an emotion. The lyric also says

‘I done dropped the torch/and we all got torched on the porch [this is a bit more heavy metal]/it was a savage blow’

and after the ‘crushing sense of shame’ line he sings:

‘My life is so severe/my intentions are unclear’

This makes Joni Mitchell seem positively casual about her motivations. One could almost image the Endless Boogie singer standing with a PowerPoint presentation and wand explaining the dilemma in his inner self.

Before the cathartic ‘sense of shame’ passage he had already sung:

‘My whole life was methylated/and my opinions were highly rated’

There is a temptation to wonder ‘by whom’ but that is a bit unfair: he obviously believed it. It is remarkable that the dropping of a torch while carrying out the trash should produce this much self destruction. Presumably his opinions are no longer ‘highly rated’ by those who once did rate them.

Endless Boogie have a series of songs whose titles are at odds with the John Lee Hooker inspiration of their name. John Lee was not big on instrospection. On the other hand the song discussed here and others such as ’empty eye’ ‘bad river’ are not chest thumpers. Nor is ‘Artemis Ward’ (by far their best in my opinion) but not as startling as ‘Taking out the Trash’.

There is probably a lot more mileage in self conscious rock. its not really an area that has been much exploited. Ozzy Ozbourne is not introspective, and he is claimed with Black Sabbath to have invented heavy metal, of which Endless Boogie is a sub-variant.

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