100 Days Project

Ben: 100 Writings / 100 Opening Guitar Hooks

various, random creative expressions / writings, inspired partially by 100 popular songs (songs that somewhat begin with a leading hook of a guitar.)

Day 89:

“Marquee Moon” (1977) by Television

“Marquee Moon” (1977) by Television


They’re coming to Auckland next month.  You’re god dam right, I’m buying a ticket!

I fell in love with the Strokes around 2001.  I however read that they were influenced primarily by a band called Television.  A mate of mine, proto-Hipster, said I was better off listening to this 70’s band, as they were far better at Garage Rock than the Strokes.  I was intrigued.  So, I walked up to where he worked, grabbed the CD, came home, burnt it and passed it back (this was the days before iTunes.)

Listening to the CD, I soon realised this was not Garage Rock.  It lacked the ferocity of it.  This was something far precise.  I came across the term later, which someone wrote of Television.  This was Jazz-Punk.  I understand that’s a difficult term to fathom.  But it was.  It was all there – an incredibly strong rhythm section laying a continuously changing swinging groove that accentuates solo’s to be spontaneous and to float off far into the distance – all creating a beautiful mess.  The only difference was, instead of those ridiculous clarinets that my ear was not and never accustomed to, it was electric guitars.  I was the last person to think electric guitars could groove or float that way.  This was new to me.  This was grounded expressionism.  This was structured jams.  This was strange chords with strange counter-melodies.  I became fascinated.  I became a fan. 

I could hear the influence upon the Strokes, with its duelling guitars.  But Television were far sophisticated and far jagged than Julian and the boys.  If the Strokes just shot it out like a fast one way train, then Television swirled out, wandering, like smoke.  Television was intricate and unpredictable.

My favourite, and everyone’s highlight, is definitely the song named after the album.  At nearly 11 minutes of pure fuckin’ gold, I found it difficult to fit it in, onto mixed CD collections I had made (this was before iPods.)  As this is the last song on the album, I always thought it best to put it at the end of a mixed CD.  But by the time I had chosen the songs before it, there was never enough room for this extended gem.  Hence, I burnt a mixed CD with this song as the first.  And it still works as a closer or as an opener.

The drumming is groovy and the guitar fighting is momentous.  The lyrics are fascinatingly strange: How can darkness double?  How can lightning strike itself?  The climax around the 8 minute mark is exactly what long songs were invented for!  It makes the endurance of it pay off.  (Billy Joel’s ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’ is another extended gem, worth the length.)  You get lost in the constant key changes in it, wondering where the hell you are, climbing the bars of this amazingly complex monster.  (It’s so challenging, they fired Richard Hell from the band because he couldn’t keep up with this particular song!)  It’s so big, so intricate, so dam great, you be best just to let it take you over.

Brilliant band, brilliant song. 

($90 for a ticket?!  Ouch!  I’ll see how I go, closer to the date.)