Friday, January 25, 2008

Michael Franti and Spearhead

That last video I posted got me thinking about Spearhead.
They played at my Alma Mater during the later half of my freshman year, and my roomate Sparky had one of their posters up for the remainder of the year. The next year, when I'd cook up five gallons of my infamous Cajun Dragon's Breath red beans and rice, at least one of my room mates would start into the chorus of "Beans and Rice." There's only one vid for this song I can find online, and the sound quality isn't great, but if you choose to watch it, the lyrics are here.
Most people on the planet/ eat beans and rice
Some can’t afford beef or they think cows are nice
If you talk table manners don’t believe all they
Told ya I eat with my fingers like an african soldier
I don’t know which fork is for meat or for salad
I haven’t got a clue when they say "whet your palate"
Eat a lot a prunes it’ll keep you loose
Skin’ll turn orange if you drink carrot juice
I think beef jerky tastes like a boot
When I’m on the street I chew a licorice root
And if I have a soar throat /then I eat ginger
And I will break bread /with those who are strangers
So come into my cave / tonight I will show you
Food is for life / and life I will show you.
If you’re havin’ problems/ I invite you here
Step into my kitchen /we will cook away your fears

Now the Dragon is the furthest thing from a vegetarian. I'll meat in any color of the rainbow, but this song comes the closest to capturing my attitudes towards food and fellowship.

But as important as nutrition and cuisine are, Mr. Franti turns his exceptional songwriting and singing skills to other vital topics such as Iraq. For instance, turn your eyes and ears towards "Time to Go Home."

Definitely one of the best Iraq protest songs I've heard... at least until the end of this post.

And it speaks to Franti's great talent, that his darker songs make the hairs on the back of your neck, while at the same time he crafts light hearted ditties like "Hello, Bonjour" which still contain heavy nuggets of wisdom, but tickle your heart with effervescent bubbles of joy.

Michael Franti is an interesting cat. His Wikipedia entry has such eyebrow raising facts as he goes through most of life shoeless. And there is huge internet archive of free Spearhead live performances, following a taping policy first originated by the Grateful Dead. I guess I'll just have to forgive such blatant acts of hippiness, on account of what a badass he is.

Do you remember "Hole in the Bucket," which got some airplay back in halcyon days of the mid-nineties, the last time radio was worth a damn?
Spearhead, yup, that's right.

Seriously though, after four years at Evergreen, and seven years in Oly, I have a low tolerance for the outer trappings of wannabe hippies and trustifarians. I can't stand reggae, or most jam bands. But Spearhead still cuts through these prejudices, managing despite all my cynicism to surprise and inspire me. Finding out that Franti began in the punk scene was interesting. To me , punk was always much more an attitude, one of questioning and exploring, born of the harsh facts of how life really is for too many, and propelled by the concept that outrage and indignation can be cleansing. Somewhere along the line it seems this has reached a disconnect, and contemporary punk seems to be more about anger as an end, as a style. Still, I guess there are a few old punks out there still using anger as a means. Still willing to "Yell Fire" in a crowded abattoir.

1 comment:

Mr. Natural said...

Thanks for that "I think it's time to go home" vid. GOOD STUFF.