Bolanomics (4)
By: James Parker | Categories: Pop Music, Read-outs

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

THE SLIDER

1972: The Slider. With the exception of Mickey Finn, whose contribution was great physical beauty, the members of Marc’s band were treated more or less as hired hands — labourers, weekly-wage earners, there to bolt the sound together while Marc miaowed and wiggled his bum. But listen to Bill Legend’s drums on the title track of The Slider — their rolling, decelerated cadence, their heaviness, superbly in sympathy with Marc’s sighing-wizard lyrics. “I could never understand the wind at all/ Was like a ball of love-uv-UV… And when I’m sad?/ I slide…” (Cue ethereal suspirations from Flo and Eddie.) Marc did have his special sadness, his little blue-toned world of vanished delights: “I bought a car/ It was old but kind, I gave it my mind/ And it disappeared…” (“Spaceball Ricochet”) Or: “Chasing wind, as a boy/ Was a spacious sexual toy!” (“Broken Hearted Blues” from ’73’s Tanx.) Was it the recent release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, and the ever-so-slight waning of T Rextasy, that had bummed him out? “I believe the ultimate star is the star who makes it just by being themselves,” he sniffed to the NME. Regardless “The Slider” is a mighty success, from its luxuriously doleful groove to its extraordinary lyrics. “I have never never kissed a car before/ It’s like a door…” This is not nonsense in the classic Lear/Carroll mode, Marc being far too unfettered a creature for type-A repressed “bosh”, but it is golden Pop Nonsense. It’s in the vein of “I’m feelin’ supersonic/ Give me gin and tonic!” (Oasis) and “For you I’d write a symphony/ Tell the violins, it’s time to sink or swim!” (Bieber)… A special emptiness, with all of pop’s confidence in the radiant irrelevance of meaning.

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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

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James Parker is a contributing editor at The Atlantic.