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Bad Religion

January 12, 2010

Music from the 90’s has always been in fairly heavy rotation at this bike shop.  They were formative years for a lot of people our age.  The only thing that’s a little embarassing is that as we get older, this music just stays the same age.  More and more music from my youth is passing the 20 year mark and earning the dreaded “classic rock” moniker.

Music of the past is dated by production qualities and the aesthetics of a particular subculture or time, but the value of particular artists can sometimes be more fully appreciated in modern contexts.   Set against the auto-tuned pop music of today, the feedback drenched music of yesteryear sounds all the more shocking and powerful.

Bad Religion’s first album was released in 1982 and it was followed by 14 more over the next 25 years.  There’s definitely some clunkers in the collection, but their late 80’s work has become increasingly interesting to me.  Their sound is straight forward pop punk, falling somewhere between The Ramones and Green Day, but the polysyllabic vocabulary of their singer, Greg Graffin, is shockingly prescient.

My particular interest in three of their albums, Suffer, No Control, and Against the Grain, is due in large part to my ability to finally understand their lyrics.  My 14 year old self was almost entirely unable to extract any meaning from “Delirium of Disorder”.  But my 32 year old self is totally awe struck  that a song that draws so heavily on the Henry Miller novel The Tropic of Cancer can be made into a song that is so catchy to a 14 year old:

Delirium of Disorder [x2]
Life is the sieve through which my anarchy strains,
Resolving itself into works.
Chaos is the score upon which reality is written,
The timeless, swirling gyroscopic horde.
Delirium
Delirium of disorder
Yeah! I am just an atom in an ectoplasmic sea
Without direction or a reason to exist.
The anechoic nebula rotating in my brain
Is persuading me, contritely, to persist.
Delirium of disorder [x8]


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