“I Feel Love” (Donna Summer)

Stanley Kubrick launched Nietzsche into space in 1968 when he appropriated Richard Strauss’ introductory “Sunrise” theme from “Also sprach Zarathustra.” Deodato’s version of “Zarathustra,” from 1972, gave it a cool, rumbling electric piano machine sheen, and filled it full of moody, twilit solos. (It makes for wonderful counterpoint in relation to the astronaut stories of Barry Maltzberg and J.G. Ballard.) Third in this series is 1977’s “I Feel Love.” Giorgio Moroder first cites the Strauss/Deodato matrix between, roughly, 0:10 and 0:34, and it’s the key to the trax’s associative and aspirational power. Additionally, like so much of the most memorable output of Kraftwerk, the melody seems to hotwired to a vehicle’s engine and chassis. But it’s not a bicycle, car, or train, or even a rocket; it’s closer to an interstellar dildo or orbital fucking machine, and the conjunction of stars, pistons, and multiple orgasms is both controlled and cosmic. In the Patrick Cowley megamix, the trax is once again opened to something like soloing: sequenced squirts and squiggles that punctuate the endless motoric pulsing. Moroder, apparently, didn’t care for it. But Nietzsche might have approved of the effort to accentuate the singularities of his ecstatic starchildren.

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“Strange Things Happening Every Day” (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)

True! First, this electric guitar blues and its solo qualify as strange for 1944 (and prescient in rock’n’roll retrospection). On another level, “strange things,” closely read in Sister Tharpe’s lyrics, are ongoing conversions to “Jesus” from the realm of liardom. But “strange things” refers to the Bible, too, where, “Thine eyes shall behold strange things, And thy heart shall utter perverse things” under the influence of wine (Proverbs 23:33; ASV [1901]). And what strange things are these? The King James Version narrows matters to “strange women”: foreign concubines, prostitutes, adulterers. Perhaps Tharpe takes wine and women and song to heart at the seeming border between the secular and the sacred. Indeed, the border itself is at stake in the very idea of the “strange” more broadly considered as the foreign, alien, different, external, extreme, exceptional, queer, rare, uncommon, singular, and surprising. Advocating a posture of lubricated wonder and welcoming toward the other.


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