Heart of Glass

Last night I watched a German film from 1976: Herz aus Glas (Heart of Glass.) It had subtitles, but much of the language I could make out, hearing the words behind and ahead of the blurry written text. After decades, I finally found this movie that has a mythic weirdness like few others. The director, Werner Herzog, claimed that he hypnotized the cast every day before shooting. Certainly some of them look like they're under a spell. The movie is slow, highly irrational, dreamy, and virtually plotless. And though at times I was bored, it still had a big impact on me. Heart of Glass woke something in me: German language, a 1970s recreation of the nineteenth century, mystic kraut-rock soundtrack by Popul Vuh, and mesmerism. Not a great film, but an opening in my mind.

Rock On Baby Queen

As a one-hit wonder who ended up far more successful acting than making music, David Essex here does the cinematic mind-meld. His hit veers toward romance ("prettiest girl I ever seen") then fades into lost-soul call: hissing sibilants ("ssssssshh)" and gospel wails ("Oh my soul"!) More trance than dance, more necromantic spell than pop song, "Rock On" still lingers in the ether - tugging at the souls of lonely planet kids who remember, or who have convinced themselves that their music-spawned memories are real.

Lost in a haze of Jamaican dub (with reverb-soaked bass playing lead, tom-toms and congas giving a jungle vibe, dead stops opening into harrowing silence, and no guitar) this tune anticipates music that will be supposedly cutting edge ten years later. "Rock On" also harks back to 50s-era poppy dreamland, conjuring up summertime blues and blue suede shoes.

This call to "rock on" doesn't mean merely to get stupid and loud. It points toward obscure resurrection. The question "Where do we go from here?" comes from nowhere and finds no answer. Multi-tracked vocals add to the reechoing reverie. "See her shake on the movie screen." Who is the
"Baby Queen?" We never find out.