A few independent thoughts on Independence Day.
As I brace myself for the annual Joey Chestnut Coney Island puke fest (I can’t even eat one hot dog without feeling like I committed a health crime unless I ate it at a baseball game), it occurs to me that watching hyped-up humans performing magnificent feats of extreme consumption is about as American as it gets.
I also realize it’s very possible I’m not the first person to come to this conclusion. Bear with me.
This reminds me: Someone from West Virginia accused me Friday on social media of attempting to be “woke.” True story. Which was annoying … until I thought about it and concluded waking up to something on which you were sleeping isn’t such a bad thing. Depending on what you “woke” up, or next, to, of course.
So, because I’m so woke–and I’m glad this couldn’t wait a day, or I might’ve been called a “leftwing fascist,” making me really confused—I watched “Hamilton” for the first time Friday night. Great stuff, of course, and great timing. Plus, if I didn’t watch it, everyone on Facebook would unfriend me, so …
There’s a lot of that good timing going around. Strangely, it seems white people are suddenly (say it with me) waking up to a few things. Even those of us who like to pat ourselves on the back and argue we were already woke.
But even if the term has been beat nearly to death, a little more wokeness isn’t the worst thing in the world right now, either.
I’d like to think it’s only coincidental, but I started watching “Luke Cage” a few weeks ago on Netflix. I’m a Marvel film fan, which likely affects my expectations when it comes to Marvel television. Right before I dove into “Luke Cage,” I tried watching another Marvel show about a rich kid who disappeared for years, came back, took over his father’s company while saving people with his superior, acquired-while-in-exile, fighting skills.
Seemed familiar …
I didn’t much care for “Iron Fist” because I’ve already seen 37 Batman movies, so I moved on to this “Luke Cage” deal. Which I then watched for two weeks.
Right. The timing of watching a show about a wronged Black superhero protecting Harlem is perfect in 2020, as America gets more woke and stuff. And maybe that timing just enhanced the subject matter for me. But I finally found a Marvel television show worth my time. Not only is it culturally relevant–and pretty well done–but the music is just … wow.
You probably knew this years ago, but … I guess I was busy.
Both the soundtrack and the on-screen performances … Raphael Saadiq, the Delfonics, Charles Bradley (!), Kingfish, Jidenna, Faith Evans, Gary Clark Jr.,… and on and on, are game-changing. Tone-setting might be a better, if not more literal, description. I can’t remember a better example of tremendous music, both in the background and as part of the plot taking place at the show’s centerpiece Harlem’s Paradise, serving in perfect harmony with what’s happening around it.
Of course, I immediately started buying up the music. Again, I don’t know how I missed Clark’s 2019 album “This Land.” I’d heard the single, but the rest of the record is just as good–and sounds as if he wrote it last month.
It’s as if these feelings have been around for 400 years or something …
Sadly, “Luke Cage” was reportedly canceled over reported “creative differences” in 2018. Which is usually euphemistic for “it wasn’t making someone enough money to make it work.” Who knows … the Washington Redskins are officially considering changing the team’s name, which must be proof that 2020 really is a weird year. Maybe someone might think it’s not the worst idea for a re-boot.
Follow music critic Tony Hicks at Twitter.com/TonyBaloney1967.