Some stuff I forgot to write about: the new gods

So, a lot happens every week in class that doesn’t make it into this blog. This week there was one issue brought up in a student’s response paper that I thought was particularly interesting.

This student was writing about aspects of her everyday world that held particular mythic meaning and power. This topic stems from the idea that many of the Native American stories we read not only explained the origins of the people who told them, but also taught them how to read the natural world around them for signs of higher meaning and purpose.

Anyway, this student said that whenever she heard a particular song, she thought of the guy who wrote the song, who was also the lead singer of the band that famously recorded it. She said the life of this man held more than the usual meaning–that the stories of his life actually held the “mythic” power to inspire her to re-examine her own values and strive to embody those values better and more intensely.

The funny thing about this idea is that granting mythic power to another person, and looking to them for inspiration and instruction, goes a few steps beyond what the Iroquois and others’ we read about did. It’s more like what the ancient Greeks did, with stories about their gods and demigods living on Earth, interacting with people, inspiring and, well, confusing them.

So, is rock and roll music the new religion of the post-Boomers? Is this what John Lennon was talking about when he said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus?

I think there’s something to this, and I can prove it. A few weeks ago I happened to read an inspirational article on another blog about the same guy my student wrote about, and this blog post included video of the band playing one of their most powerful and “mythically” motivational songs. Take a look, and tell me you’re not moved. If you don’t feel the power, I’m guessing you were born before, say, 1950 or so, so you’re old enough to have “real” religion still. Most of my students claim to be godless heathens, but when I played this in class most were genuinely moved. Check this out (and feel free to skip the first 1:15 or so of the video, unless you’re interested in seeing the sway the “demi-god” has over his audience):

MT

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5 responses to “Some stuff I forgot to write about: the new gods

  1. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/harris/story/0,,1411006,00.html

    From the article…

    “And Freddie Mercury! Those who compile lists of Great Rock Frontmen and award the top spots to Mick Jagger, Robert Plant et al are guilty of a terrible oversight. Freddie, as evidenced by his Dionysian Live Aid performance, was easily the most godlike of them all.”

  2. He really made caring cool again, which is something those other guys never quite mastered (Jagger was too stoned to care, Plant was a bit of a nerd). One thing I noticed in the video at about minute 5, when they’re starting the final verse, he seems genuinely, emotionally moved. Hard to imagine most bands from that era (our this one…) really “feeling” it like that. Pretty cool stuff. Thanks for the linky-poo.

  3. Should also be mentioned that I think at least, oh, 1/3 of the songs in the Queen box set are completely retarded–really mystifying, embarrassing– and Freddy Mercury was a total weirdo. Andf then there’s the good stuff they did–you can’t beat it. Well, what better idol for today’s youth? It’s all so confusing these days, not like the 70’s, when we were born.

  4. Ha ha, awesome. By the way Freddie isn’t a weirdo, he’s amazing

  5. There are no retarded Queen songs!

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