Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Monday 20 May 2024

Monday's Long Song

Last weekend's aurora borealis lit up a lot of people's Friday nights. I was asleep, unaware this multicoloured, massive global electrical storm triggered lightshow was taking place. I woke up to it the next morning via a phone full of images taken by people near and far. The following night they said we'd see them again but Manchester's skies were cloudy last Saturday night- quelle surprise. But the afterglow of the northern lights has led to this track recorded by San Francisco's Marshall Watson, an eight minute synth journey titled Beautiful Light. Marshall says it's got more than a hint of Rick Smith and Underworld in it- which it has- but it's more than good enough to stand on its own two feet. The synths kick in immediately, in rippling waves and long euphoric chords with a kick drum providing propulsion. More synths enter at two minutes, dancing melody lines like those flashes of purple and green and blue in the sky. The ghost of a voice appears a little late, hinting at the track's title. Beautiful skies indeed. Get it here

In 1979 Neil Young and Crazy Horse released Rust Never Sleeps, an album that was in some ways a response to punk and in some ways, int typical Neil Young fashion, a reworked version of Chrome Dreams (which didn't come out in the mid- 70s but finally appeared last year). Pocahontas starts with the line 'Aurora borealis/ The icy sky at night', Neil setting the scene for a massacre of Native Americans, Neil describing the people being killed in their teepees, babies left crying on the ground, and then the buffalo being slaughtered too. 

Pocahontas, known to her people as Matoaka, then becomes the subject of the song as it jumps about jumps about in time, taking in the Houston Astrodome and TV, and then a line about wanting to sleep with Pocahontas 'to find out how she felt', a line which felt a little uncomfortable to listen to whenever you first heard it, never mind now in 2024. It ends with Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and Neil. Marlon Brando refused to accept an Oscar for his role as Don Corleone in The Godfather in 1973 in protest at the treatment and portrayal of the Native Americans, sending Sacheen Littlefeather to attend in his place. It's a beautiful song, one of the centrepieces of Rust Never Sleeps, and one that I always hear playing in my head at any mention of the aurora borealis. 



Ernie Goggins said...

She's buried in Gravesend in Kent, an unfortunately appropriate place to be buried.

Swiss Adam said...

Indeed. Such a strange place for a Native American to end up in the early 1600s.