Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Sidewalk Lizards and Supine Lambs

Today I rested until the afternoon, when I went to Allen Station Park, the park less than ten minutes from our home. They're beginning a "Phase II", which apparently includes an expansion of the walking sidewalks. I walked on a portion of new sidewalk, by an unmowed wildflower section. The early Summer flowers are in bloom now--Mexican hat, which looks like a susan crossed with a tiny sombrero; coreopsis, the tall bloom people here sometimes call a Texas sunflower; the last of the red and yellow Indian blanket, and a purple flower I did not recognize. I turned around when I came to unpoured sections of the sidewalk--it will be interesting to see where it all leads.

I also walked over on the short riparian nature walk by the old railroad dam. This week we had heavy, unseasonable rains, so that the creek was flowing briskly. The railroad dam spillover was a tiny waterfall, making those pleasing rushing water sounds. I saw a huge lizard, with black and white and yellow stripes, walking along the sidewalk. I don't think she saw me. The storm had knocked a huge tree branch across the sidewalk at one point, so I had to deviate around in the weeds. I had the park pretty much to myself, as it was rather hot. Folks here have a way of abandoning things that are a degree too warm or a degree too cold, which permits one solitude in the suburbs.

I saw so many butterflies--giant swallowtails, which are huge with black and yellow stripes, tiger swallowtails, more yellow and black, and a lot of smaller varieties.

I listened to Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" album on my CD player. This is the last of the Peter Gabriel albums. Genesis always seemed, in those days, like a band with some great songs, which never managed to put out its "tour de force".
"The Lamb" was supposed to be that "tour de force". It was a concept album--late in the phase of the progressive rock "concept albums". Unfortunately, the band, dowsed with the bucket of water of constant touring, intriguing personalities and all the usual rock inanities, had begun to melt. The band members largely ceased speaking to one another by the time of the recording, according to the reports generated about its "making".

The "plot" of "the Lamb" does not really hold together, even though the LP came with extensive liner notes describing the story in quirky, elaborate detail. But for me, it always works perfectly as just what it is--a disjointed, somewhat confused, powerful set of jangled ideas, rendered with a great deal of gusto that was 9 parts verve, 1 part bombast and an extraneous part just plain fun, by a band that always stressed musicianship. Peter Gabriel subsequently left the band, and no longer sang dressed as a flower while singing about "watchers in the skies", instead making videos as a stop-action fruit stand singing soul. I love his song "In Your Eyes" from the post-Genesis era.

For me, the sound of the opening keyboard intro to the song "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" is a tremendous comfort, an affirmation of what rock music can mean to me.
I've never been one to insist that rock be "authentic" in the way some limited rock critics do. I am much more intrigued with the power of rock to confront absurdity with absurdity. I frequently sing along to songs on this album, and remember a few, like "The Carpet Crawlers", to this day, though I first learned it 20some odd years ago.

I remember in the early 70s, people felt that Genesis without Peter Gabriel would be like biscuits without flour (or flower). In this remote remove, one can even wish that Phil Collins, who sang on the "the Lamb" about "hovering like a fly waiting for the windshield on the freeway" had been metaphorically smacked against the glass, thus sparing us the cover of "You Can't Hurry Love" (today, no doubt, something Hillary Duff would cover instead).

But in fact, folks were wrong about post-Gabriel Genesis, and the first two albums Genesis made after "The Lamb" were among the very best albums the group produced.
"A trick of the tail" wisely did what Genesis did well--little story-songs with
intriguing melodies and rhthym signatures, while "Wind and Wuthering" recognized and exploited the way that progressive rock could sometimes seem like an homage to a particular, almost victorian, notion of the English. I always like the way that the song "Afterglow" went places lyrically that the Gabriel Genesis never really went:

"Like the dust that settles all around me,
I must find a new home.
The ways and holes that used to give me shelter,
Are all as one to me now.
But I, I would search everywhere
Just to hear your call,
And walk upon stranger roads than this one
In a world I used to know before.
I miss you more".

Genesis eventually "lost their way", preferring sales to further development of their sound. I can't blame folks for wanting to make money, I suppose.
Now it's just a footnote, something I listen to while driving to the rolled sandwich shop (side note: a rolled sandwich tastes just like a sandwich rolled in a tortilla).

I think sometimes of thousands upon thousands of songs, sung by thousands of artists, about the things that matter, and the things that don't. Then I put another CD in my CD player, and listen to the next set of songs. I must look up pictures of butterfly species, and get some work done tonight, and read a little science fiction. I'm in a different place than I was a Sunday ago, but it is in this place I must work out things.

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