the genius of Andy Partridge

Gold sun rolls around
Chocolate nipple brown
Tumble from your arms
Like the ground your breasts swell
And awake from sleep
Hares will kick and leap
Flowers climb erect
Smiling from the moist kiss of her rainbow mouth

Simply one of the finest songwriters around, and far too unknown in the US. Something amazing started blossoming in this guy’s head in the mid-80s and the albums beginning at around The Big Express and Skylarking and moving on through Oranges and Lemons, Nonsuch, and Apple Venus Volume 1 contain many gorgeously-crafted creations.

This is one of a dozen or so of theirs that gives me chills everytime. Andy himself says in this very entertaining, hour-plus-long interview that it’s maybe one of two favorite songs of his (the other being “Wrapped in Grey”). He’d come up with the chorus many years before but didn’t do anything with it – it just sat there in the recesses of his unconscious waiting for something. Then one day he found himself playing with these “earthen, lumpen” (as he puts it) chords on his guitar (which end up being orchestrated). They kept rising up the strings until there was nowhere left for them to go and then suddenly … that melody from a decade or more earlier leapt out, and “Easter Theatre” was born.

With no false modesty (entirely appropriately) he says in the interview that sometimes you wonder if you might ever reach the heights of the greatest songs you ever heard (he mentions the best of the Beatles at that point), and that when this one was finished he realized he’d got there:

You know you’re doing alright if at some point during recording a demo, your hair stands on end. Which it did when I reached the ‘Easter. . . in her bonnet’ section in the middle. Self fright or self delight is difficult to achieve at the best of times, but here, bang out of nowhere, it arrived in bucket loads. Every pore of my skin was smiling fit to burst. Where does this stuff come from? Surely it’s not me thinking these songs up? I live in Swindon! Maybe my right arm is an aerial picking up the practical jokes of angels or the whisperings of Genii. Surely my washing machine motor of a secondary modern school brain isn’t capable of thinking up songs like this?

(Stage left)
Enter Easter and she’s dressed in yellow yolk
(Stage right)
Now the son has died, the father can be born
(Stand up)
If we’d all breathe in and blow away the smoke
(New life)
We’d applaud her new life

“your heart is the big box of paints”

“…and others, the canvas we’re dealt.” (XTC – “Wrapped in Grey”)

Earlier today overheard the tail end of a sentence: “… they’re just so uncomfortable with shades of gray.” But, really, this isn’t right. Shades of gray are still only combinations of black and white. The third category merely buttresses the overarching sovereignty of the Two. Of “This or That.” So now we have “sort of This, or sort of That.”

But I think what we really fear is the profundity and brilliance of living colour. Irreducible to anything else, to any grid or agenda, any … This or That. The redness of red, the blueness of blue, the greenness of green. As the Buddhists say, “suchness” beyond concept. That which is, in itself.

I guess this is why I’ve always liked the term “person of colour.” And, in part, it’s why I’ve always disliked the term “bisexuality,” for instance. Because the latter keeps us imprisoned in one-dimensional calculus: there’s a dot over here, and a dot over there, and you can have one dot, or you can have two dots, but that’s “who you are,” that’s what your longing is, your full exquisitely sensitive aesthetic. It’s a dot — or two.

But our “sexuality” or libidinal universe, the realm of all that we find beautiful as a body among bodies, down to the last unmappable particular — this remains unique to us, vast and uncontainable. Not black, not white, not black-and-white, but our own personal world of brilliant colours.

And so with our pure longings, in our natural radiance, we go out into the worlds which are given to us, and we create our communities of love.  

“your heart is the big box of paints
and others, the canvas we’re dealt
your heart is the big box of paints
just think how the old masters felt, they call:
awaken you dreamers…”