…but now I see

Humanity’s struggle between the forces of Good and Evil is a cross-cultural theme that’s been around for most of recorded history. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that this subject should find its way into our popular forms of entertainment, particularly our songs.

This playlist is representative of the battle as I see it (not that my vision is incredibly original), presented in operatic form. Please note that some of the songs may be offensive to some of you for different reasons. My intention was not to offend, but as we all know this is sometimes unavoidable.

Act One, Scene One: We are introduced to Lucifer as a living incarnation who walks among us.

Red Right Hand, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUlgN__Jrxk[/youtube]

Act One, Scene Two: After the Devil goes down to Georgia and loses a fiddle duel with a young man named Johnny, he meets a down on his luck Mississippian who is willing to make a deal.

The Crossroads, Robert Johnson[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI73O5EHyak[/youtube]

Act One, Scene Three: It becomes clear that things aren’t going so well for the poor soul-swapper. After some good times, things start turning sour.

Runnin’ With the Devil, Van Halen[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpX3NhpRGdE[/youtube]

Act One, Scene Four: The foolish young man finally hits bottom and seeks spiritual guidance.

Jesus, The Velvet Underground[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIm9Eu6h7NM[/youtube]

Act Two, Scene One: Wandering into a revival meeting, our hero seeks God’s forgiveness.

I Am a Pilgrim, Johnny Cash[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZwcdqFcUSY[/youtube]

Act Two, Scene Two: Salvation!

I Saw the Light, Hank Williams Jr. and Friends[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbXPNpbuRg0&feature=related[/youtube]

Act Two, Scene Three: Now that he’s found Christ, our hero goes on to testify.

God is Love, Marvin Gaye[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO15gjNojA8&feature=related[/youtube]

Act Two, Scene Four: Upon finding out that the spiritual contract has been broken, Satan bursts onto the scene and confronts the young ingrate.

Fire, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOErZuzZpS8[/youtube]

Act Three, Scene One: Realizing that the Devil still possesses his soul, our hero is forced to take a stand. Finally, he musters the strength to deny Evil once and for all.

Down in the Hole, Tom Waits[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw2MjRcVO4g[/youtube]

Act Three, Scene Two: Satan accepts that the South is lost to Jesus and his fanatical followers and moves to L.A. where he opens a bed and breakfast with Anton LeVay.

Hotel California, The Eagles[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAFdmbKTEsU[/youtube]

Act Three, Scene Three: Through his own actions, our protagonist is finally freed from his demonic possession.

Devil Town, Daniel Johnston[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnHcDjBopWI[/youtube]

Finale: The truth is revealed about all of this religious mumbo jumbo. As it turns out, Good and Evil are dialectical. The music swells as the curtain falls.

You Have to be Joking (Autopsy of the Devil’s Brain), The Flaming Lips[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9ofUMuggxc&feature=related[/youtube]

21 responses to “…but now I see”

  1. The Other James says:

    Nice one, Scotty.

    Two comments: 1) for those Battlestar Gallactica fans out there, does Nick Cave look just a little bit like Gaius Balthar? 2) it appears that David Lee Roth took some dancing cues from Arthur Brown – Both of them could use a lesson or two from Tom Waits. Ha!

  2. LT says:

    wow….I think I’m gonna go read The Stand again now.

  3. LP says:

    Scotty, this is epic — my favorite good vs. evil rock opera since Jesus Christ Superstar.

    The evocation of Anton LaVey reminded me of the news that his (in)famous Black House in San Francisco was razed to make way for condos. Which of course speaks to so many recent TGW conversations.

  4. Godfree says:

    LP, I used to actually work with LaVay’s daughter, Carla. She was a shockingly boring person. But she did speak quite fondly of her dad. Apparently, he had a great sense of humor.

  5. brooke says:

    I super <3 that Van Halen video, and I say this as an Obama supporter.

  6. bw says:

    s.g. stands for “so good.” you know this is a page out of my favorite songbook. i’m with brooke — the van halen took me back to another time: i wasn’t really mature enough as a teenager to see how much of his schtick he was nabbing from jagger, and how ambiguous his heterosexuality was. (or did that ambiguity even signify in the mid-80s?)

    i liked this so much, in fact, that i downloaded the tracks i didn’t already own and made an audio version. no time now, but later i’ll post it and provide a link.

    god and the devil rule! and i say that as an obama supporter.

  7. swells says:

    Watching “Running with the Devil” immediately followed by “Hotel California” makes one thing abundantly clear: The drummer should not be the frontman. LAME. And I say this as a Phil Collins detractor.

  8. LT says:

    And may I just mention that Sr. “so good” Godfree is able to post this amazing play/playlist (plus videos) while madly studying for his comprehensive exams. I believe they begin this week…?

    Good luck, Scott! I’m only gonna tell you one time! Run with the devil!

  9. Tim says:

    Wow, Scotty! This is some impressive work, especially with your current school commitments. Perhaps you were considering a little bargain with Beelzebub of your own as you created this opus — i.e., let me pass these comps and you can have my damned soul.

    Seriously, though, we know you’ll knock their socks off. Give ’em hell!

    Plus, did anyone else think that the Van Halen video is the closest approximation there could be to a live-action Muppets routine? Seriously, Alex Van Halen = Gonzo.

  10. Scotty says:

    Yes, LT, I souldn’t be commenting right now as my first of two comps is tomorrow. Back to the joys of the international political economy…

    BTW, has anyone else noticed how much Hank Williams Jr. looks like BW in that video?

    Thanks for the well-wishes.

  11. ok, dammit. i can’t believe you went there, tim. i was sulking a little this morning because for years i’ve been formulating a narrative for a muppet rock opera starring gonzo and set to the music of contemporary musicians i think resemble or have been influenced by the muppets. my dream is to air it as a “listener hour” on WFMU one saturday morning. but then i told myself scott was really doing something quite different. so let’s leave it there!

  12. and #10, dammit! i had wanted to say “hank williams is the jesus of cool in that video” but then you had to go and ruin that one for me too.

  13. he actually looks like parts of my in-laws’ family. a young uncle lynn anyone?

  14. Tim says:

    Sorry, Bryan. I won’t develop, but it was the tandem hair toss between Eddie VH and Michael Anthony during the first guitar solo that suggested this to me. You should do this, though! It would make a great opera *and* Thursday playlist.

  15. Godfree says:

    …and Tim, I’m no foxhole satanist. I signed the covenant in blood many years ago. How do you think I got so darn hansom?

  16. brooke says:

    This really is an awesome playlist Scotty, kudos. Can’t wait for the audio version!

  17. LT says:

    bw: how long have you been formulating a narrative for a muppet rock opera starring gonzo? I mean, write it already. The GreatWhatsit awaits.

  18. Dave says:

    I know it’s very un-Dude of me, but I must acknowledge the awesomeness of the Eagles along with their lameness.

    This playlist, on the other hand, brings all of teh awesome, none of teh lame.

  19. PB says:

    This was just about the coolest thing I have ever seen.

    And I say this as a 5-string banjo supporter.

    What does it mean that we went from smooth chest rockers to hairy chest rockers back to smooth chest rockers? There is a dissertation here somewhere. Does it have to do with muppets?

  20. 17: bless you lisa tremain. when i finish this masterpiece will you be the publicist?

  21. LT says:

    bw: of course, silly.