Sunday 26 July 2020

Allen Greenbaum's At Peace

Do you proud easily? So easily that you project it onto and all over others because your empathy reservoir is flooded with the belief that only being proud can achieve the level of self-esteem required to go on living between bouts of shame, dutifully spewed too wherever the wont warrants?

The first time I heard "Green Manalishi", it was from Judas Priest's Hell Bent for Leather, the American title of Killing Machine. The band added the earlier cover they'd done to the US release, which sported a title that was apparently more palatable to CBS/Columbia. It's been noted that this had to do with the Cleveland Elementary School shooting, which had just happened, and that the company didn't like the "murderous implications" of the British title.

Six months later, when the same company released "I Don't Like Mondays", the Boomtown Rats' song with an explicit reference to the same shooting in its title and lyrics, I guess the potential controversy had finally died from its injuries. Or it could be that the original title was just too on the nose for the sense of good smell of some executive, who had either moved on to other boardroom adventures by July, or for whom the implications of "Hell Bent for Leather" lay just as liminal.

Save for projecting squeamishness onto the image of the corporate suit, I do not intend to suggest that there's a comparison to be made between gay leather bondage and shooting people out of boredom, except to say that neither pride nor shame does much for either. Unless that's what you're into.

I listened to that version of "The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)" on a Sony Walkman knock-off, manufactured by GE, the multinational that Tim Robbins said "brings good things to death", live on one of their network's marquee programs, which either confirms how free one was to speak truth to power, even via their own network, or is an indication of the meaninglessness of that brand of freedom. Unless being able to call out the things you cannot change is what you're into.

Green manalishi and its crown with two prongs is suggestive of a quite crucial freedom. It's a freedom pregnant with promise. It's also a freedom fraught with devastation.

In this free world, should one be lucky enough to be pricked by its offer, one can sign to a major record label and, as if winning the lottery, make enough to live for the rest of one's life, high on the pride of the accomplishment of moving units, living on top of the charted world, assuming one'd gotten a good deal. Or, should one be unlucky, receive the accomplishment with a feeling of emptiness and depression, or toil for someone who rips you off your entire career, or wallow in the frustration imposed by the stupid shame of a one-hit wunderkind.

Peter Green was luckier than all that, according to my projections. Whereas some attribute to LSD, and the subsequent onset of schizophrenia, a life cut short of its full potential, I imagine that he took a trip to the future and saw the glorious potential others would project onto him and decided rather on a version that includes the period at the end of this sentence. If the account is to be believed, at the full stop of his own life yesterday, peacefully and in his sleep, he was neither proud nor ashamed of the choices he'd made.

By his choosing to leave them behind, Peter Green led Fleetwood Mac to unrivalled success. He also avoided having to further experience all of that success' melodrama, something the band would also have in spades. Again, I wouldn't want to suggest that too many doses of a mind altering compound is better than a decade of cocaine abuse — even so, it really depends — for nothing I can say about either one alters the experience of those who had them. And in this particular case, nobody seems to be wanting to switch places.

And other than Peter Green, who's to say that his future with Fleetwood Mac would not have been the same obscure life he had had as an underrated blues musician? Why deny Fleetwood Mac and their fans much greater recognition?

With an ample catalogue of subsequent solo music as evidence — and this's just my projection, so it doesn't matter in the least — had Peter Allen Greenbaum never done acid, he'd have drowned in a bathtub in 1977, Mick Fleetwood would have jobbed as a hired drummer for the next decade and then done the same, and Buckingham/Nicks would've become a one-hit wonder capped off by a murder-suicide as an indirect result of an unfortunate session with the Eagles. And we wouldn't have The Green Manalishi.

Or this: