The Bush Junta versus The Polyphonic Spree

All alpha-hominids allow their group the space within and without to be themselves with brio. Generalissimo Bush may be one of the worst people on the planet, but he has created the space that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest of the Conservatron Parade of the Horribles have practiced their dark masterpiece. The ends are a disaster, but no one can say that Team Bush hasn’t been productive.

Bush meets his pack-leader equal and opposite in the person of fellow Texan Tim DeLaughter, the leader of the symphonic pop group the Polyphonic Spree. DeLaughter’s exuberance is half Jim Morrison and half Brian Wilson. To view DeLaughter in the “Making Of” video of the Spree’s latest album is to see him coax the precise semi-improvisational sound out of each section of the Spree (the band consists of a standard rock quartet, plus string, choral, percussion, and brass sections – and a Theremin!) by sensing the music rather than hearing it. He contorts his body to direct the notes, hopping about like a caffeinated golden retriever while floating and waving his arms like a stoned octopus. This is matched with the brainy attention to detail of Wilson who, legend says, used to “play” the studio is if it was an instrument.

Occasionally, all of the hamming stops and DeLaughter’s eyes pierce the camera with a jaded boredom that seems to say this is my vision and I can just as easily stop seeing and exuding whenever I want to. His narration of the video sounds like it was preceded by eighteen bong hits. For all the couplets about oneness replete with every manner of “we,” “the,” “it,” and “everyone” DeLaughter seems to know that he is the alpha that makes the space; that creates the confidence that allows twenty plus people to participate in the production surrounding purple words like “On our way today / Day after day / We try hard / We cry hard” with a straight face.

A similar imperial impishness is what the people who were smart enough to see through Generalissimo Bush from the start loathe about him most. Because all that he stands for has always been so obviously venal, stupid and counter-productive Bush’s continuing bravado is aggravating and increasingly sociopathic.

Conversely, The Spree’s happy lyrics — penned by DeLaughter and his wife and fellow Spreer Julie Doyle — have been criticized for their inchoate sentimentality. “We called them out / We said lets shout / Some day the world will be one”. Well, asked one reasonable reviewer, one what? SJT cleverly pointed out that there is a “Raffi on acid” quality to the tunes (“The trees want to grow / The trees want to grow / Grow grow grow!”), although she said that this sensation disappeared when we saw the Spree live. Indeed, reading the Spree’s lyrics is like eyeing a screenplay instead of watching the movie. Having twenty plus musicians play the notes and sing the words with utmost care and passion decrees a level of sincerity on CD that is expanded exponentially live.

The music gives you no choice but to be happy, one I-Tune reviewer wrote. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that trip?

So, in so much that happiness and sincerity are the sensation that is opposite to the Bush Junta’s flabby lyrics; and in so much that the “you” in the song “Fragile Army” is “that knucklehead that’s screwing up our country;” and in so much that the mental meanderings of Texan shroom heads seem to be the endemic antidote to Texan Bushites; and in so much that the Bush era is creepily hallucinogenic in its own moldy way; and, therefore, in so much that the view of a Third Eye on the wall surfing primordial truths while looking over Generalissimo Bush’s shoulder is most telling; and in so much that the Spree coined the phrase “it’s the feel good time of day” I think a bit of their screenplay deserves to be heard here:

Design a black note
You type on your keyboard
You swallow
The very words you called you own
You tighten your back up
Ooh you’re so psychic
We all want to know
Did you marry the witch you’ve come to know?
You lie on your back now
You’re totally found out
We follow
The scary words you learned to grow
So slow us down now
Prepare for the count down
We all want to know
Did we bury the ones we love the most?
The ticking, the talking, the losing
How shocking!
The world wants to know
If we’re ready
To put you on the floor