Bolanomics (4)

By: James Parker
September 29, 2011

Fourth in a series of posts — in honor of his birthday, on Friday — tracing Marc Bolan’s musical and philosophical development.


1972: The Slider. With the exception of Mickey Finn, whose contribution was great physical beauty, the members of Marc’s band were treated more or less as hired hands — labourers, weekly-wage earners, there to bolt the sound together while Marc miaowed and wiggled his bum. But listen to Bill Legend’s drums on the title track of The Slider — their rolling, decelerated cadence, their heaviness, superbly in sympathy with Marc’s sighing-wizard lyrics. “I could never understand the wind at all/ Was like a ball of love-uv-UV… And when I’m sad?/ I slide…” (Cue ethereal suspirations from Flo and Eddie.) Marc did have his special sadness, his little blue-toned world of vanished delights: “I bought a car/ It was old but kind, I gave it my mind/ And it disappeared…” (“Spaceball Ricochet”) Or: “Chasing wind, as a boy/ Was a spacious sexual toy!” (“Broken Hearted Blues” from ’73’s Tanx.) Was it the recent release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, and the ever-so-slight waning of T Rextasy, that had bummed him out? “I believe the ultimate star is the star who makes it just by being themselves,” he sniffed to the NME. Regardless “The Slider” is a mighty success, from its luxuriously doleful groove to its extraordinary lyrics. “I have never never kissed a car before/ It’s like a door…” This is not nonsense in the classic Lear/Carroll mode, Marc being far too unfettered a creature for type-A repressed “bosh”, but it is golden Pop Nonsense. It’s in the vein of “I’m feelin’ supersonic/ Give me gin and tonic!” (Oasis) and “For you I’d write a symphony/ Tell the violins, it’s time to sink or swim!” (Bieber)… A special emptiness, with all of pop’s confidence in the radiant irrelevance of meaning.


READ similar HiLobrow series: ANGUSONICS — the solos of Angus Young | KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM — 25 Jack Kirby panels | MOULDIANA — the solos of Bob Mould | SHOCKING BLOCKING — cinematic blocking | UKULELE HEROES


Pop Music, Read-outs

What do you think?

  1. I’m loving these James! Bolan was a ridiculous god — man could he make some fantastic sounds with that guitar. I’m hopin’ you’re saving the best T. Rex song ever for tomorrow. (Being, of course, “Jewel” off the “T.Rex” album. You get all that lyrical preposterousness, the Tolkienisms, AND the greatest groove and snarly raunch guitar licks ever. BOLAN!)

  2. thank you tor! i’m actually not doing ‘jewel’ tomorrow, for that would be to go backwards in my bolanomic chronology – but i agree that it’s a MEGA song. my problem all through this little series has been the embarrassment of bolanomic riches -which song to pick, for which epoch? very glad you’re enjoying it, anyway.

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