29 January 2021

Elric the Eternal Rocker

 

'In the long litany of sword-wielding mass murderers that
populate the pages of a thousand lesser fantasy novels, Elric
of Melniboné is far and away the coolest, grimmest, moodiest,
most elegant, degenerate, drug-addicted, cursed, twisted and
emotionally weird mass murderer of them all.'

Jason Sheehan - NPR Book Suggestion

  

I like the description and don't find this article odd at all.

*eyebrow raised

 ***

 

The Elric Saga:
Stories I've once started, never finished and continually remind myself to revisit...at some point.

I was hot on reading them some time ago and did manage to finish, mostly, Book 1.
And not unlike 'The Stars My Destination' I ended up feeling I missed something, not understanding the praise placed upon this series or the idea of the Eternal Champion.
 

I feel that the last couple of years have brought on a new found sense of purpose and maturity into my life, a broader state of mind in understanding.

Certainly this is age related but also I feel an expansion of consciousness is at work as well.
Nothing profound, just a bit more grace in my thinking.
With this has come a re-reading or first time reading of many many books, I feel that I'm final 'ready' to digest those ideas properly.
 
Watch out Delany, I'm coming for you. 
 
 

 

So Elric...
 
I've been jonesing to read the saga lately and, of course, I did not bring the books on our trip here.
This isn't the first time I've wanted to read them and simply did not have the books to read. At some point in the past I collected up a complete set determined to be ready for the next time Elric beckoned.
Well wouldn't you know, that urge to read them is here again and alas my tomes are locked away upon a mountain side.
*sigh


This urge is always brought on when I hear one of two songs that were inspired by Elric, both of which have been mercilessly earworming their way through my head this week.

 It was a couple of years back that I discovered to my surprise that two legendary bands had ties to Elric.
There are others but I'm just going to mention two of them here, they're the ones I listen to on a regular basis.

Both quite good in my opinion.

And though not a substitute for the books they'll have to tide me over until I'm reacquainted with my stash.

*** 


 

Deep Purple
Perfect Strangers
Perfect Strangers
1984

Crunchy organ intro by the late Jon Lord sets the tone for this lament to Morcock's doomed hero.

Masterful lyrics credited to Gillan, Blackmore and Glover but I have a feeling most of it was driven by Blackmore's influence.

Gillan's wizened voice commands mournfully strung lyrics like:
'I know I must remain inside this silent well of sorrow'.
 
There is a wonderful layer of mystery to this song and I can imagine someone not knowing of Elric and later discovering it was inspired by a book would be compelled to seek it out to read.

The Perfect Strangers single was released with the B side, 
'Son of Alerik'.
A smokey atmospheric instrumental to get lost in, featuring Blackmore and Lord.
I think this would pair well with an Elric read..give it a go.

Also, check out Blackmore's Night...if you're so inclined.

Jon Lord...\m/

 

Bardic Blackmore

*

Perfect Strangers

Can you remember, remember my name
As I flow through your life
A thousand oceans I have flown

And cold, cold spirits of ice
All my life
I am the echo of your past

I am returning the echo of a point in time
And distant faces shine
A thousand warriors I have known

And laughing as the spirits appear
All your life
Shadows of another day

And if you hear me talking on the wind
You've got to understand
We must remain perfect strangers

I know I must remain inside this silent well of sorrow

A strand of silver hanging through the sky
Touching more than you see
The voice of ages in your mind, oh-oh-oh

Is aching with the dead of the night
Oh, oh, oh, precious life
Your tears are lost in falling rain

And if you hear me talking on the wind
You've got to understand
We must remain perfect strangers 

 ***
 

 

 

Blue Oyster Cult
Black Blade
Cultösaurus Erectus
1980

 I associate BOC with the song 'Veteran of the Psychic Wars' which I first listened to on the 'Heavy Metal' soundtrack sometime in the 80's.
I played those albums over and over and over and over. So much so that I eventually started having weird dreams with Psychic Wars as the background music. I was haunted by the pounding drums, eerie synth, hopeless lyrics and ended up not being able to listen to it for a long time as it always produced dark, depressing thoughts and imagery in my head.
I suppose that's precisely the intent of any successful anti-war song or writing.

 I've never been a huge BOC fan, especially considering 'that one song with the cowbell' that everybody knows being what they're best 'known' for but, after listening to 'Black Blade' I've been more inclined to spend time with the band.

Black Blade is a type of song I love; one that conveys a compelling story without being overly obscure, artsy fartsy or require a masters degree in literature to understand. That said however, I'm not suggesting it's simple either. I find it to be quite clever and the perspectives it takes are compelling.  
It sings of The Black Blade and the poor sod wielding it or it of the wielding poor sod and like 'Perfect Strangers' I feel that one would be eager to find the source of the lyrics after listening to them.

But the coolest part about this song, aside from the skill and musicianship that I cannot properly convey in any meaningful or intelligent way other than to say 'It's cool, I like it!' is that Moorcock wrote/co-wrote the lyrics...'nuff said.

And as it turns out, Moorcock also wrote/co-wrote the lyrics to 'Veteran of the Psychic Wars'...hmmm.
 
Veteran harkens back to the band 'Hawkwind' (post Lemmy) and their Eternal Champion inspired album 'Warriors on the Edge of Time', which Moorcock also help write...double hmmm, hmmm.

And while we're talking about Hawkwind, check out the album 'The Chronicle of the Black Sword"' another Elric inspired album with a small assit from Moorcock on one song.
I like this album as well.

 
*

 

 Black Blade

I have this feeling that my luck is none too good
This sword here at my side don't act the way it should
Keeps calling me its master, but I feel like its slave
Hauling me faster and faster to an early, early grave

And it howls! It howls like hell!

I'm told it's my duty to fight against the law
That wizardry's my trade and I was born to wade through gore
I just want to be a lover, not a red-eyed screaming ghoul
I wish it'd picked another to be its killing tool

Black Blade, Black Blade
Forged a billion years ago
Black Blade, Black Blade
Killing so its power can grow (grow, grow, grow, grow...)

It's death from the beginning to the end of time
And I'm the cosmic champion and I hold a mystic sign
And the whole world's dying and the burden's mine
And the black sword keeps on killing 'til the end of time

Black Blade, Black Blade
Bringing chaos to the world we know
Black Blade, Black Blade
And it's using me to kill my friends
Black Blade, Black Blade
Getting stronger so the world will end
Black Blade, Black Blade
Forcing my mind to bend and bend

I am the Black Blade
Forged a million billion years ago
My cosmic cycles are for eternity
Carving out destiny
Bringing in the Lords of Chaos
Bringing up the Beasts of Hades
Sucking out the souls of heroes
Laying waste to knights and ladies
My master is my slave
You poor fucking humans

 

 



 

07 January 2021

Black Sabbath: The Mob Rules

 

Ahhh, come on!

Close the city and tell the people,
That something's coming to call.
Death and darkness are rushing forward,
To take a bite from the wall.

You've nothing to say,
They're breaking away.
If you listen to fools,
The mob rules.
The mob rules.



 Kill the spirit and you'll be blinded,
And the end is always the same.
Play with fire you burn your fingers,
And lose your hold of the flame.

It's over, it's done,
The end has begun.
If you listen to fools,
The mob rules.


You've nothing to say,
Oh, they're breaking away.
If you listen to fools...

 

 Break the circle and stop the movement,
The wheel is thrown to the ground.
Just remember it might start rolling and
Take you right back around.

You're all fools!


 *
 
 
 
 
 'One fool makes many.'

21 December 2020

Currently Reading: The Stars My Destination

 

Tiger! Tiger!

 

My first read of 'The Stars My Destination' was a several years back and, it didn't take.
I had forced myself to continue reading it, begrudgingly, and by the time I had finished I was at a loss.
I felt as if I had missed the things that so many others said made this a great piece of sci-fi.
I didn't get it.
I was frustrated.
 
Sometime later I would read 'The Demolished Man'.
Though I tracked a little better through Bester's writing, there was still some dissonance between his word craft and my ability to visualize the story.
I simply concluded that I struggled with Bester and left it at that.

Bested by Bester.

*



During the first part of 2020 just as Covid was ramping up, we went to Albuquerque to do a book fair. This was March and things were just becoming tweaky with travel and events, ultimately the fair was cancelled because of it...an hour after we arrived in town.

Poor Little Book Fair Sign :/


Either on the way there or back, probably both, we listened to the audio book of Neil Gaiman's 'The View From The Cheap Seats' read by Gaiman.
In his words the books is, in part "...a motley bunch of speeches and articles, introductions and essays."
It's quite excellent and I very much recommend it, especially the audio book.



In it Gaiman has included his introduction to the 1999 Science Fiction Masterworks edition of 'The Stars My Destination'.
After listening to it I warmed up to the idea of giving the story another read...at some point.
Gaiman reading Gaiman is a compelling listen.

FF>> a few months.



I grabbed 'The Stars My Destination' almost as an after thought as we were packing to leave Colorado...forever?
There were so many books I could have grabbed but when it showed up in a box I was sorting I grabbed it thinking maybe now?
I'm certain that decision was based entirely on Gaiman's introduction.
 
The other day, having finished Aldiss's 'Starship' I went for another book to read and pulled 'TSMD' from the middle of a small stack.
I flipped the book to a page, Foyle's Merchant Marine record stared back at me.

               FOYLE, GULLIVER ------ AS-128/127:006
        
                    EDUCATION:          NONE
                    SKILLS:             NONE
                    MERITS:             NONE
                    RECOMMENDATIONS:    NONE

                       (PERSONNEL COMMENTS) 
           A man of physical strength and intellectual
           potential stunted by lack of ambition.
           Energises at minimum. The stereotype Common Man.
           Some unexpected shock might possibly awaken him,
           but Psych cannot find the key. Not recommended
           for promotion. Has reached dead end.



Something in that statement resonated with me, something familiar...something fatalistic.

And just like that I had begun 'The Stars My Destination' once again.


I am however taking to heart a couple things from Gaiman's introduction.
The first, a play on Heraclitus:

"You can no more read the same book again then you can step into the same river."

The second, a word of warning:

"The vintage of the book demands more work from the reader than he or she is used to."

Indeed.


 
So, what shall it be for Bester and me:
"Death's my destination" or "The stars my destination"

?
 
***
 
 
 
UPDATE:
24 DEC 20
 
 Got it.