Song written by Ron Mael and performed by Sparks
Until about a half hour ago, I would have argued with anyone that the Sparks were an English band. That goes to show you just how much I actually know about anything. I’m probably ahead of anyone who had no idea who they are, but that’s probably quite a few folks. I’m not including people who knew who they were once and have since forgotten.
No matter how much wisdom is spewed about lifelong education and remaining open to new experiences, we all notice stuff constantly and place it in that mental file that we like to call “I will look into that later.” Sometimes we toss in conspiracy theories and sometimes we toss in art. Americans drop in cricket and Englishmen toss in American football. It’s the unwritten bucket list that we are happy to discard. It’s all those places that we ought to visit if there isn’t anything good on television.
Before I go any further, let me be clear that I’m good with this. No one alive will ever consume all the available art, not even all the good stuff, not even all the outstanding life-changing bits. And we all need to participate in our world which is a morass of people trying to make new art, some of which will not be very good. But we don’t get new, great art by demanding that everything we see and touch and hear and smell matches some ideal. Everything is temporary, so we better not forget how to make new things.
Sparks is one of those bands that reminds us of the power of creativity. They never seem to stop trying to make something new, something alive outside of our ideas of a successful pop band.
As indicated above,
I never absorbed the Sparks marginalia during the early heyday. That only happened in recent years as I started paying attention to their work as a whole. The brothers Mael seem to inhabit that void explaining where the weirdest British Invasion tracks became Queen at their most music hall. But that comes nowhere near explaining the unending experimenting of Sparks. Like other artists that I have discussed, they do not seem to dabble in new forms. Their longer work feels accomplished in a way that suggests a through line to everything that they have done.
Perhaps that explains my willingness to forgive our oddest artists. Sometimes, the strange ones are able to reveal something special and unique because of their continuing attempts to explicate the difficult. We expect too much if we demand constant success. The more daring the attempt then the more likely the failure as well as the greater the reward in communicating with even some of your audience.
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You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 173 more to go.
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