Friday, April 2, 2010

Jane: Jesus Christ Superstar

I've been participating in a discussion on Facebook about this album. It all started when Andy posted some lyrics from the show as his status:
Sanhedrin: "What then to do about this Jesus Mania? How do we deal with the 'Carpenter King'? How do we handle a man who is bigger than John was when John did has baptism thing?" Caiaphas: "Fools! You have no perception! The stakes we are gambling are frighteningly high. We must crush him completely! So like John before him, this Jesus must die."I replied with more lyrics, but I noticed that several commenters didn't seem to get the allusion!

Here's what I posted as my status:
Andy's post reminded me to pull out my Jesus Christ Superstar double album today for my Good Friday listening. I'll be singing those songs to myself today until needle hits vinyl.
Once I got home and needle hit vinyl, my boys listened a bit. "It's disturbing," said Eli, after we listened to the song where Jesus cleanses the temple ("MY house should be a house of prayer/but you have made it a den of thieves. . ." )

Yeah, I guess it is a bit disturbing. Holy week is pretty disturbing, really. That frightening time in Jerusalem, watching someone you love going from palms and Hosannas to a horrifying death. When I was younger I was deeply into participating in Holy week--disturbing is something young adults like, I guess--or at least I did.

The music is also disturbing--some of it is screaming guitar/singer 70's music which is at least a bit alienating, or at least I think that's what it was trying to achieve.

I got Superstar when I was maybe Eli's age, 13 or so. My parents had gotten "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" for me for Christmas one year and I loved it. I have that entire libretto in my head, too, just like Superstar.
Later that year, maybe during lent?, someone brought the album "Jesus Christ Superstar" to our public library and played the music in the community room. I'm not sure why--maybe a debut in our hometown? Someone had a cart with one of those old record players on it, and there were chairs with some people listening. Now that I look back on it, it seems rather odd!

When I went in the room, "What's the Buzz?" was playing--a cheerful and catchy tune--followed by "It seems to me a strange thing, mystifying," which set up the tension--and I was hooked!

I asked my parents if they would buy me the album. It was a long time before they did, and when they bought it for me (a birthday, Christmas?) it came with a caveat. My dad wanted me to know that they weren't particularly keen on the theology of the musical (Jesus as a pawn, Judas as a tragic hero) and the way it ended (crucifixion, not Easter). I think my dad said something like "If you listen to this, you have to listen to the St. Matthew Passion, too." I probably said "OK, OK!" like Robbie does to me sometimes.

Like many of my grew-up-in-the-70s friends, I basically had that album set memorized. I have a strong high school memory of me, Lori Heitland, and Craig . . . the baritone player from our marching band, singing through it from beginning to end one day in a hallway near the band room.

So I listened to it today. It's still a powerful piece--some of the lyrics are just so subtle and moving. But, dad, I want you to know that the St. Matthew Passion is on the docket for tomorrow.

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