Bolanomics (2)
By: James Parker | Categories: Pop Music, Read-outs

Second in a series of posts — in honor of his birthday, on Friday — tracing Marc Bolan’s musical and philosophical development.


1970: A Beard Of Stars. Marc and his Muse are between percussionists, having sacked Steve Took and only loosely engaged future T Rex bongolator Mickey Finn (preposterously handsome). So who is it hammering those tocsin-like drumlets across the intro to “Fist Heart…”, with Marc giving panicky little pant-sneezes over the top? We do not know. A Beard Of Stars (in the words of Bolan biographer Mark Paytress) is “probably the closest Marc Bolan ever got to making a solo album.” In a sense it signals a slight regression: having flattened the area for miles around with 1969’s incredible “King Of The Rumbling Spires” — an avant-garde, fully electrified blowout of proto-“New Rose” drumming and plunging glamdozer chords — Marc has, like a frightened woodland animal, withdrawn his curly head back down the burrow and into his jingle-jangle comfort zone. Here he is once more among his fripperies and hippie-dipperies, strumming and warbling. But there’s a new muscle, and a new economy, to his writing — short verses, punchier imagery, as Marc rehearses a warlike mood: “Fist Heart, Mighty D-dawn Dart/ In some way” (a weirdly confiding growl) “our slain are yours.” (And then the newly plugged-in guitar goes down, down, down, down.) An actual bass bobs its head through the freaky non-chorus: “Funny how the day comes slo-wow.” Potent figures are stalking Marc’s inner landscape, kings and chieftains well on their way to becoming electric warriors.

King of the Rumbling Spires

Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart


MORE original fiction at HiLobrow; and stories by HiLobrow’s Matthew Battles

READ similar HiLobrow series: ANGUSONICS — the solos of Angus Young | KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM — 25 Jack Kirby panels | MOULDIANA — the solos of Bob Mould | SHOCKING BLOCKING — cinematic blocking | UKULELE HEROES



James Parker is a contributing editor at The Atlantic.