Saturday, April 12, 2014

Songs about gnomes

Although I've never watched Game of Thrones, I found myself reading this*: Please Shut The Fuck Up About Game Of Thrones, by Clive Martin in Vice.  Mr Martin does not like GoT, because it is fantasy, and apparently fantasy is for unhip people. 
I guess my real problem is that most things fantasy-related seem to come from a very conservative, dated worldview. They remind me of car trips, bars where the bartender wears corduroy, school trips to theme parks, and people who wear "SMEG OFF" T-shirts.
In passing, he mentions Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which is a bad thing because it has something to do with boarding schools and Tolkien. 
While the Music Room Crew back at my middle school were wigging out to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, I just couldn't get past the Tolkienisms and mythological allusions. Granted, I couldn't relate to Chronic 2001 that much, either, but that seemed like a document of a world that actually existed somewhere, rather than some ridiculous boarding school fantasy.

I was a bit puzzled by the Tolkien reference, so I went to the effort of looking up all the words on the album, and there's nothing about Tolkien in there. There is, however, a song about a gnome. The gnomes get everywhere.

I've always seen gnomes as a fundamental part of British hippieism.  Your American hippie was politicized, with Vietnam on his mind and a lineage extending back to the Beats. The quintessential English hippie grew up in Canterbury in a comfortable middle-class home with a shelf full of Enid Blyton in the kids' room. Noddy and Big Ears were part of the literal furniture before they became part of the mental furniture and eventually they came back out in the sub-sub-Tolkien lyrics of hippy bands.

My own favorite hippies, Tyrannosaurus Rex, never managed to pen a song about gnomes as far as I can tell. Marc Bolan did, however, write two short stories about moles, which were read on their albums by John Peel himself, who is not, as it turns out, all that great a reader.

I reckon that moles are Toad of Toad Hall enough to count as a form of gnome.

My People Were Fair - Story reading by John Peel

Unicorn - Story reading by John Peel

*Thanks, I think, James Nicoll's More Words Deeper Hole

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