Weapons of Mass Delusion

Poetry in the form of song lyrics can sometimes hit the spot when it comes to seeing things as they really are.

A few years ago, whilst in Vancouver, I went to a gig by a band called Destroyer. The name makes them sound like some hardcore death metal outfit, but they are not like that at all. The band is basically a musician called Dan Bejar and his output over the years has covered a variety of styles, often with interesting lyrical content.

So I was pleased to hear a new track by him on 6Music about a month ago. It’s called Tinseltown Swimming in Blood. It’s a track that suddenly seems horribly prescient in the light of the mass murder in Las Vegas. The expression ‘Tinseltown’ was originally coined to describe Hollywood, but it has shaded out beyond that over the years and it captures the nature of a place like Las Vegas.

The title of the song is a nod to an earlier piece by the Scottish band The Blue Nile, who did a beautiful song called Tinseltown in the Rain in 1984 (it’s about Glasgow).

The two songs soundtracked some feelings and thoughts about the unspeakable crime in Las Vegas, which is simply the latest event in the slaughter of the innocents that is condoned by American culture and law. The gun control issue in the USA is not some bizarre phenomenon in a tiny nation, it is a form of terror embedded within the most powerful state in the world. The cultural influence and spread of all things American has been a global fact-of-life for over a century.

Writing and making art are two ways in which I have fun, and they are also two ways in which I try to preserve sanity in the midst of bad stuff.

The title of my hybrid poem references another song lyric, Dylan’s A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall.

Tinseltown In the Hard Rain

 Bullets gush from a window-on-high

stair-rods of death-metal firestorm

bolting into bone

into concrete

into flesh

into wood

into iron

into denim

never-ending cataracts of anger

alienation and brute intention

 

here we are, caught up in this big rhythm

tinseltown in the rain

oh men and women

here we are caught up in this big rhythm

 

this constant fountain-jet

of lead and tempered steel

of coppered nickel spray drops

is valid

is approved

is enjoyed

is sacrosanctified

is immutable

though perhaps not that last word

for it will be worse tomorrow

 

what comes round is going round again

now let me tell you about the dream:

I had no feeling, I had no past

I was the arctic, I was the vast

spaces without reprieve

tinseltown swimming in blood 

 

The first set of italics are ©Bell & Buchanan, 1984 and the second set are ©Bejar, 2017.

Ted x

 

3 comments

  1. Hard words, hard truths. It was the meticulous, methodical preparation of Paddock that chilled my blood more than anything, more than the cataracts of anger and the gush of bullets.

    There was method in his madness and madness in his method, modifying his artillery to make it even more lethal, drilling holes through the hotel wall to secure vantage points for recording the episode on video to capture that fountain-jet of lead as the body count went higher and bloodier.

    Another toadly, ornary guy, neighbours say, quiet, respectable, successful businessman and gambler, kept himself to himself but, Hey, it’s a free country aint it?

    Up until the point when you’re dead. Because some regular guy could freely buy a personal arsenal with no requirement to justify his accumulation of deadly fire power.

    What you say needed saying, needed writing down but it won’t change a damn thing. It’s like hurricanes in the Caribbean, it’s American weather, just American weather.

    Like

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