Mars - A Rock ’N’ Roll Obsession:
Tuesday 27 January @ 19:14:32
By Tom Hallett
Did anybody else catch the Democratic "debates" on the tube the other night? What a snooze! I mean, besides the news anchors' pathetic obsession with Howard Dean's now-infamous howl (which, I hear, has now been officially included in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's "Famous Screams" section, along with those of Robert Plant, Little Richard, and John Fogerty), and the absolute insanity of the presence of a Hawk military candidate who freely admits voting for both Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan, the entire hot air festival was about as entertaining as I imagine a guided tour of George W. Bush's private library would be.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “(Sometimes) I blow it and fall into disillusion and disrepair. Where the mind and the body and the writing and the relationships and everything else goes to hell. I start drinking too much or eating too much or talking too much or vacationing too much. And then I start recovering.”
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Space Oddity”
As a matter of fact, I was nearly asleep, my tattered copy of “Thy Father Is A Gorbellied Codpiece” ("Create over 100,000 of your own Shakespearean insults!" I.e.: "Why, you ARTLESS, BARREN-SPIRITED BED-PRESSER!!") sliding through my numbing fingers, when I heard the one candidate who's not a pink-skinned, blue-blooded elitist with a fluffy white lambskin pulled haphazardly over his wolf's shoulders say something that actually made a tiny bit of sense.
"WELL!" boomed the most Reverend Al Sharpton, and as I sat up I noticed that every liberal head in that room turned—er—reverently towards the notorious activist/publicity hound, ears cocked as if they were about to receive some holy message from the mount. Of course, every last one of 'em knew damn well that even if Sharpton were the next Martin Luther King Jr., he still wouldn't stand a snowflake's chance in hell of winning the primaries, let alone the Presidency, but a jaded, middle-aged Caucasian news reporter who's religiously donated a set amount of filthy lucre to the NAACP every year around tax time since 1968 has to at least listen, don't they?
"As I see it," continued Sharpton (and I'm paraphrasing here, even feisty ol' Al didn't have enough get-up-and-go to pry me completely out of my half-dream state), "What we need to do is start focusing our funds and efforts on the problems and the people down here, rather than spending nearly a billion dollars trying to explore MARS!"
I recall thinking that it seemed perfectly logical that the Bush administration should be backing America's ongoing exploration of a planet named after the Roman god of war, and wondered what Ray Walston would think of the whole affair. After that, things got kinda hazy, and I found myself sinking into a horrific dream where, in the future, America and Red China had jointly founded a new civilization on Mars just before deadly UV rays sliced through Earth's clouds and fried most of the planet.
I didn't remember many details upon waking, aside from disturbing images of Bush, Cheney, Leibermann, and Howard Dean's grinning, discombobulated heads floating over the surface of Mars like so many plump, poisonous packets ready to burst and spew forth their Earth-learned political poppycock on the unsuspecting, confused former Terra Firm-ians below. All these years of fantasizing and worrying about little green men from the Red Planet invading and conquering us, and here we are (natch), playing that role ourselves.
I did, however, start thinking a bit about what Sharpton had said. Not that his statement was anything new—politicians have been posing the same question since we twanged our first satellite into space with a giant rubber band in the '50's—but today, when the big hand on the Doomsday clock is wavering hellishly close to one second before midnight, it seems even more relevant.
Listen, I'm as fascinated as the next guy with space exploration, and the fact that NASA has just found evidence of water on Mars makes me even more curious about the planet. But it does seem a bit ludicrous that HUMAN BEINGS are dying of thirst and drought here on a planet that's made up of TWO-THIRDS WATER while we desperately search for the life-sustaining substance on a far-off world. Ah, hell, maybe it's just me. The truth is, the way we're treating this hunk o' rock we live on, future generations are probably gonna be tickled shitless that somebody took the time to check out our options on another hunk o' rock 124,000,000 miles away.
Noted martian look alike David Bowie is one of many musicians who’ve immortalized Mars in song.
Either way, Mars has always occupied a special place in the part of my mind where fantasy meets reality, and it seems it's done the same with many a musician/songwriter over the years, as well. Between a quick dig through my own record collection and a brief web search, I've come up with a short list of Mars-obsessed music and musicians who've made a splash here on Earth over the past few decades. OK, everybody, check your Glink levels. Are ya ready? Then here we go...5...4...3...2...1...
Mars—A Rock ’N’ Roll Obsession:
1) Men from Mars (1952) - Woody Herman
2) Life on Mars (1984) - Johnny Mars
3) Live from Mars (1996) - Roger McGuinn
4) Venus and Mars (1975) - Paul McCartney & Wings
5) Blue Sky On Mars - (1997) Matthew Sweet
1) "Mars" (1967) - John Coltrane
2) "B.B. On Mars" (1969) - Alice Cooper
3) "Life On Mars" (1971) - David Bowie
4) "Mars" (1977) - Laura Nyro
5) "Mars" (1992) - Rise Robots Rise
6) "Mars" (1992) - Television
7) "City Lights On Mars" (1992) - Chris Mars
8) "Mars" (1995) - The Wipers
9) "Girl From Mars" (1995) - Ash
10) "Trip To Mars" (1995) - Nils Lofgren
An' that's literally only the tip o' the (Martian) iceberg, mang. Other standouts with Mars in their titles include: "Run To Mars," "Way To Mars," "Ants On Mars," Cats On Mars," "Cars On Mars," "Date On Mars," "Gold On Mars," "Face On Mars," "Eyes On Mars," "The Martian Boogie," "Fear Of Mars," "Free Mars," "Jack From Mars," "King Of Mars," and "Back From Mars."
There's Mick Mars and Johnny Mars and Chris Mars and Mars Bonfire and M.A.A.R.S. There's War Of The Worlds and The Martian Chronicles and My Favorite Martian and Mars Attacks and Mars Bars. And who could forget Blondie's famous lines from "Rapture" about the man from mars and the cars and the bars and the guitars? We Earthlings fucking LOVE Mars!!
Obviously, the red planet has captured the attention—and muses—of a plethora of singers, songwriters, and musicians over the years. But did/do they give a rat's ass about Sharpton's statement, and what its implications are? And do we? Can we seriously consider spending billions of dollars to explore far-off worlds when we can't feed, clothe, and shelter the people around us? Well, since we already are, I guess the point is moot. I can't help but feel, though, that if there are races of alien beings cruising the universe, exploring and charting new planets with technology beyond our comprehension, they probably made sure to at least leave a snack for the folks back home.
That's it for me this time, kiddies. Tune in next week for part two of Mars: A Rock ’N' Roll Obsession when we'll review a fresh slice of local rock ’n' roll that adds one more title to the Mars albums list—don't miss it! Until we meet again—make yer own damn news.
If you have local/interplanetary rock n' roll news/gigs/events you'd like to see listed in this column, or if you'd just like to snivel, whine, and complain right to the source, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.