I love that moment when you're 12 and you find something that speaks, nay, megaphones to you so completely you dig into every archive to find the complete opus of that magical wizard. To me, Monty Python were those wizards. I couldn't get enough of their silliness, even if I didn't understand all the foppy British references. Or the little and big digs they were making at establishment entertainment and politics.
But today, when I rewatch Python films, especially Life of Brian and their Flying Circus sketches, I get a renewed feeling of appreciation for their genius. And it almost makes me wonder how much else I missed as a kid.
With Cleese and the gang, I always adored their wordplay, such as in the tinny-word sketch or the argument-clinic classic. But on a deeper dive, and with a greater awareness of their tight editing, the sketches almost make my jaw drop. I can see how the punchline setup works perfectly in most of their sketches, and their wacky turns aren't so random after all.
Just watch the mastery that is the Cheese Shop sketch to revel in how the timing has to be absolutely perfect for some of those lines to hit right.
When I learned more about religion, especially Christianity, and took a Latin class or two, all those Life of Brian jokes brought more intelligent nuance to the comedic buffet the fellas were dishing out.
When it comes to music mentors, Jimi Hendrix is up there for me. In high school, I couldn't get enough of Little Wing, Wind Cries Mary, Watchtower, but in the last few years I've been hearing more of the poetry bulbing bright in songs like Castles Made of Sang, If 6 was 9. I remember rocking out to his chunky riffs, but did I really listen to his lyrics?
As a poet, I've learned to see the rhythm of language as clearly as a melody in a tune. It takes some excavating, maybe some Wiki-lyric hunting, but in the end I'm lovin Hendrix now more than ever.
Of course, we've all had the opposite experience. A band we really admired as a kid just doesn't cut it anymore, even when you go to that first album that spun you into binge-listening weekends (sorry, Throwing Copper by Live). But I think we can overlook those shiny heroes we put on a pedestal back in the day...and they don't always kick you in the face from that height. The best ones have you going through their back catalogue like you did decades go, smiling even wider now.
About David's Blog
I write about journalism, freelancing, the arts, Toronto, technology, sports and why egg nog is under-rated.