Thursday, September 16, 2010

Strike Anywhere At the Spanish Steps

I visited a museum dedicated, oddly enough, to the life of Shelley, Keats and Byron today. It was literally next to the Spanish Steps, on the tiny fourth floor of an old building that looked more like a Tetris piece than something made with stone. But. Shelley is especially interesting to me now because of his association with Strike Anywhere.

I'll explain. Strike Anywhere, as you may remember, is a band I plugged here before. But! I always knew that somehow, their song Blaze (from Exit English, a 2003?4? record) referenced something from Shelley, the Masque of Anarchy, but I was never sure how much. Sure, I didn't recognize the first verse, for frankly, the last six years. It was always something garbled before the second verse and the bridge.

And that's okay. Not all lyrics have equal weight.

But, I was listening to an interview with Thomas on Monday, I want to say and he said off-hand something to the effect of, yeah, the first verse is ripped straight from the Masque of Anarchy. I had time and I found the verse. It is as follows:

We! Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake these chains to earth like dew

You are many, they are few!

First: Unvanquishable. That' old word, alright. That explains why I never understood the first verse, I can count how many times I've heard that word before on one hand.

Second: Man, Shelley makes that shit sound so noble and awesome. The truth, of course, is different, as you can count on many, many more hands the number of people that have died in unsuccessful revolts.

But. The song's pretty fantastic even without knowing the first verse. The rest, well, my favorite lines are the switching between "human solution" and "human pollution" in the choruses along with "amplified adrenaline". It might sound super nerdy out of context, but you'll hear it below.

Back to the surprisingly well appointed museum, literally overlooking the Spanish Steps. It was a low-lit oasis of a reading room and a place to catch my breath in a place that was bright, filled with loud tourists all taking pictures of their friends on the Steps. It gave me, for 4 Euro, a spot to recollect myself and exhale.

Strike Anywhere is not a quiet band, nor are they a quiet place to take a breather. They've got a couple songs that allow me to exhale and catch my breath (Instinct, Notes On Pulling the Sky Down, Asleep, First Will and Testament, Till Days Shall Be No More and Postcards From Home) but the majority of their songs are 2-3 minute long bursts of occasionally sung punk that places a premium on speed and heart. They're a cup of Gatorade along the marathon, the extra tank of gas in a cross country trip. Strike Anywhere, for me, is a constant re-dedication to the ideas and beliefs I fell in love with years ago, that bad things, no matter how ubiquitous ought to be noted and worked against.

I also wouldn't be at that museum if it wasn't for Strike Anywhere, obviously, because without them it is significantly less likely I would have cared at all about Shelley, but more so, because Strike Anywhere represents a lot of the emotional and social decisions I've made in the past few years. If I hadn't listened to Strike Anywhere, maybe I'd be happier or less aware, or have taken a right as opposed to a left at certain crossroads. If I didn't listen to Strike Anywhere, I couldn't have walked up those stairs, because I wouldn't have a reason to care.

I'm still on 2666, and by page 100, we're finally starting to get to the plot. There's been enough dream sequences that I'm pretty sure I'm missing something. You know which song this is gonna be, right? It's gonna be Blaze and its intro, We Amplify. Sure, Blaze sounds great on its own, but that extra minute of a buildup is worth it. Trust me.

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