“The Logical Song” (Supertramp)

An attempt to reclaim “simple” status in response to institutions that produce logical, intellectual, and clinical subjectivities. Desperately seeking a content as last wish: “please tell me who I am.” Acutely aware of state coercion (“watch what you say”), but this is just a cover; reclamation and self-making inherently disciplinary. Thinking the birds are “playfully watching me” is wishful: sun logic.


Read more "“The Logical Song” (Supertramp)"

“La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens)

Some say the song itself can be traced back to the conquest, and, further, to Africa, and that there are 500 or so verses which can be sung to it. Cornucopia. In this distillation, the “captain” says to his dance partner: for you, I will act as a “sailor,” and divest myself of power. After all, in order to dance “la bamba” (which references a certain swinging, swaying, wobbling), there can be no leader and follower, as in formal dance. The master/slave dialectic, therefore, does not apply.  Instead, one needs a certain grace (“de gracia”) and a little something else (“y otra cosita”). Excessiveness, below or before sovereignty/subjecthood.


Read more "“La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens)"

“Rocket” (Smashing Pumpkins)

Limitlessness denied. Similar to ideas from both Nikolas Rose and Jean-Luc Nancy, freedom, which comes with the free disposal of rights, is presupposed by both a State and psy- discipline; the result for singer: he “couldn’t stay free.” The human body becomes a projectile, hurling into celestial emptiness (instead of into another) to be rid of “those voices in my head.” Ingesting love and consuming hate becomes the necessary fuel to attain escape velocity. The catch: “no more lies” assumes that once future being emerges, the true, sovereign subject will materialize. The irony not fully realized—here or there.


Read more "“Rocket” (Smashing Pumpkins)"

“Working on a Building” (Cowboy Junkies)

Permanent housing. Gospel traditional reworked through Xanax-like vocals and behind the beat accompaniment. Singer plays with possible performances (as a drunkard and liar) and then denies she’s a singer; if she were, though, she’d sing and work on the building for “my Lord. “Religious subjectivities, surely, are always structured by denials, but also by somnambulant identity politics: the bondsman forced to produce/build self without own signature.


Read more "“Working on a Building” (Cowboy Junkies)"

“Message From a Black Man” (The Temptations)

Plea for white self-reflection on color question vacillates between advocacy of colorblindness and Black pride (there-is-no-difference versus get-out-of-my-way). Given this uncertainty, overly optimistic assessment of the struggle’s endpoint: “The laws of society were made for both you and me.” Correction: the laws are designed to designate you and me, citizen and subject. Always, in liberalism, a foundational distinction, remaining.


Read more "“Message From a Black Man” (The Temptations)"

“Object-Subject (Breakdown’s Not Enough)” (Keith LeBlanc)

Given the “major malfunction” which was NASA’s Challenger, the breakdown of the subject-object dyad is more like a gross disabler, circulating in finite varieties. The evidence: distorted power chord bass gives voice to dubbish bass roots; “subject-object” repeated in different registers and at different speeds; panning (and sustained) shrieks circle the listener’s head; and precision scratching terminates at the same tonal origin regardless of direction. All mark the tonality of our common “adopt[ion]” which, ultimately, never reaches escape velocity.  (Even guns meet this conceptual wall.) A mental atom bomb (depicted on cover) still won’t break the dualism; denying exploration as discovery, the more just breakdown—eluding just more of the same—materializes in the actionable, continual appraisal (and subsequent dissolution) of what’s “here.”


Read more "“Object-Subject (Breakdown’s Not Enough)” (Keith LeBlanc)"

“Anarchy in the U.K.” (Sex Pistols)

Easily overlooked that the singer barks, like Melville’s Ahab, a version of “Who’s over me?” Is it the MPLA, UDA, IRA, UK? Finally, singing downscale, toward a theoretical point which gathers the particularities: “or just another country”? The details are irrelevant. Whether already existing or sought, by reactionary or insurgent forces, it’s (merely, emptily) the state-form. A repeating, structured sovereignty.


Read more "“Anarchy in the U.K.” (Sex Pistols)"

“Unlimited Capacity for Love” (Grace Jones)

After the loving community—an insomnia-induced incarnation desiring a prenuptial agreement for inclusion—hits the “floor,” singer wonders how one can “add another to love” without inheriting “classic” community’s exclusions. Lacerating kick drum and staccato descending bass figure point the way, repeatedly; it’s the rest/pause which can admit the rest of us (without worrying about dividends). In the reverse: apart from “hope” and “without pressured expense,” one should only fret about how to expend love without short-changing.


Read more "“Unlimited Capacity for Love” (Grace Jones)"

“Niggers Are Scared of Revolution” (The Last Poets)

Verbal whipping of “niggers,” who are “everything but themselves” these days. Which is to say: American Blacks are degraded, violent, sex-obsessed, pimping fools, and need to be shocked into recognizing who they really are, if the Revolution is to come. Background drums make it crystal clear: these figures must recover their African roots, and get behind the beat. But where’s the Revolution in such disciplinary maneuvering? Or: if patrolled identity normativity is the pre-condition of Revolution, then the Revolution is everything but itself.


Read more "“Niggers Are Scared of Revolution” (The Last Poets)"