Recently, I have found the music of the British, prog-rock band, King Crimson. I have not been able to stop listening to it. I am grateful that their music exists, and will be ever more grateful for how their music found me.
During the Fall and Winter of 2019, I was completely immersed in the music of one of my favorite contemporary bands, Tame Impala. I was listening to their discography as much as I could. This was in anticipation of the release of their new album, The Slow Rush. From around October or so, I had been listening to either Innerspeaker, Lonerism, or Currents, every day or so. One this day. The next, another. Sometimes, two at a time, sometimes three in backwards succession. A lot of times clockwise, to get a feel of how their sound has shifted throughout the years. To say I was immersed in their sonic world, would be an understatement.
During this time, I was in my second semester of a master’s program that I’m now taking some time away from. It was before COVID, so I was driving down to the campus, hanging around the library, unafraid of public gatherings, but, truly, unsure and uncertain of just exactly what was real. Only four years prior, I was living on the East Coast, in Connecticut of all places, attending and graduating from college, a completely different person. Moreso, seven years prior, I was attending high school in California, unaware that the outside world was actually real. This is all important, dear reader, so bear with me. Because, as you will see, the music of King Crimson found me there, I was just unaware (which could be said about most of what I have done and been all my life).
I bring up the past, so that I may learn from the future. In high school, I became fairly acquainted with rock. Hard rock. Metal. The such. It was the continuation of my discovery of music after listening to the first rock band that captured my attention, System of a Down. I remember the progression that came after that, which is still a progression, a river, flowing to this very day. I also have to give praise to Guitar Hero III and Activision for creating the video-game that sunk my teeth into a genre that would come to define my life. Without these two things, SOAD and GHIII, I wouldn’t have explored a side of Kevin that, thank God, has survived. Honestly, without them, I wouldn’t be alive. That just comes to show how vital these discoveries can be to those who need them. Because if I hadn’t heard that song, hadn’t found that band, or hadn’t played that video-game, I would have never found The Smashing Pumpkins. I would have never found Radiohead. I would have never found Kendrick Lamar. Sufjan Stevens. Pink Floyd. And thus, King Crimson. Actually, they would have never found me. So if any of you band-members, artists, or any others who have helped inspire and shape me, read this, I want you to realize that you are working in conjunction to a plan that is helping people go to where they need to be. Thank you for this. I love you. Your work saves lives.
Anyways, it was Fall, then Winter, and I fell head-first into Tame Impala. I was enthralled by how their music seemed to help me understand my emotions. Whenever I would feel springy, I would listen to Innerspeaker. When I felt misunderstood, I would listen to Lonerism. When I longed, I listened to Currents. Songs like Eventually, Alter-Ego, Why Don’t They Talk To Me? carried me when nothing else could. You could imagine then, that when The Slow Rush was finally released, I ate the album up. But, by that point, I had overdone it. By feeding myself only Tame Impala, consciously and willingly, I had starved myself of all different kinds of music, and in doing so, lost taste for music in a way that I hadn’t ever done before.
You see, there have been many points in my life where I searched for new music. When I have spent hours on Spotify trying to find that goldilocks artist that would hit the exact spot I was looking for. But at those points, I didn’t feel starved. I felt curious. By the end of March 2020, I had enough of whatever I was feeding myself, so I decided to look elsewhere, to maybe find some peace.
I looked back at my roots.
Ultimately, and thankfully, what caught my attention the most was Pink Floyd.
I had listened to Pink Floyd in high school, but I never truly listened to them until I got to college (stereotypical, right?). There would be days and nights when I would just get majorly stoned, pop on some headphones, and melt away in the sounds of Animals and Atomic Heart Mother. Heck, the album, The Dark Side of the Moon, once helped me get through a panic attack. Their sounds, their guitar solos, were something that had really impacted me in my youth, but were something that I had forgotten. It was the perfect remedy for the hole my past indulgence left me with.
So, after I had finally settled here in CA (which took about two years, and many, many tears), I went back to Animals, then back to Meddle, then to Wish You Were Here, and finally, The Wall, which I had never wanted to listened to, nor had been able to get through, for reasons that now seem childish to me. But The Wall was the album that helped set me free.
I have to admit, the album was hard to listen to at first. Roger Waters’ voice just did not sit well in my ears, even though it fit perfectly in previous albums. The concept behind it, with a character named Pink, who was referenced to in their previous album, WYWH, was something I was very critical of, since it all seemed like fluff that got in the way of the music. Then, however, I started to really listen. Like, listen-listen. And I found myself in the middle of the album, staunch, naked, exposed, and afraid. Surprisingly, I also found Jesus.
On Hey You, the first two verses go like this:
“Hey you, out there in the cold
Getting lonely, getting old
Can you feel me?
Hey you, standing in the aisles
With itchy feet and fading smiles
Can you feel me?
Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light
Don’t give in without a fight”
“Hey you out there on your own
Sitting naked by the phone
Would you touch me?
Hey you with you ear against the wall
Waiting for someone to call out
Would you touch me?
Hey you, would you help me to carry the stone?
Open your heart, I’m coming home“
I have said it once, and I will say it again. Jesus is coming soon. Very soon. We will see him “coming on the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26) It will happen when we see “the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing where he should not be. (Reader, pay attention!)” (Mark 13:14). It will happen in our life time, which is true because we are eternal. HE is coming soon, and the full revelation of who He is, and who God is, will become fully available for all to digest and understand. It is for this reason that we must usher light into our hearts, so that the flame of the Lord will be able to live inside of us, so that we may keep loving ’till the end, and past that, hopefully.
When I heard the line “Open your heart, I’m coming home,” I felt something click inside of me. I felt as if someone where actually speaking to me. It makes a tremendous amount of sense considering that the song is titled, “Hey You” but still. I was listening to something beyond the music. Then I realized that I myself was Pink. I have caused anguish to those who have been close to me by closing myself off, and living inside the wall of my heart, expecting someone to climb over, and to save.
Turns out, when one saves another, it isn’t by climbing over – it’s by demolishing. For if I were to be honest, here’s what happened to me: I was ensnared by sin, and thus I was a slave to the Devil. I did many things, blinded by lust, and anger, and greed, that no human should ever do. Then, I died. While I was dead, while I was no-one, when I was not, I cried out, and a light brighter than I could possibly comprehend engulfed my life. Not only did it save me, but it completely destroyed the wall I built. Then He got to me. Instead of destroying me alongside with it, He offered me, in his hands, freedom to live, to live for others, to share in His suffering, to be true, and, by the power of God, to make amends. This light was Jesus, and the light is, and will always be, Jesus. For me, simply being aware, and having the grace to know that there is a Christ, and that that Christ is “a life-giving Spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45) that gives freely, forgives, restores, free-of-charge, and that that Spirit was the Spirit of God, I was able to see the new world living and breathing on top of the one we are all living in now. My sister once said that the true empire is not materialistic. That truth is becoming more real to me every day. God is becoming more real to me every day. I only have Jesus to thank for that, since I have done absolutely nothing in my life, good or bad, to be able to come to this. I am unworthy. Yet, I am still here. That in itself is beautiful. Thank you God. I love you.
But I did find Jesus in Pink Floyd’s album The Wall. So I wanted to listen to more like this, and I think I might have been searching through my Spotify Discovery playlist, when I was suddenly listening to a band called Yes, specifically, the song Then. This song is wild. I did not expect it whatsoever. It opened me up to the possibility of liking complex drum signatures, tempos, and bizarre sounds that Pink Floyd, as awesome as they are, didn’t prepare me for. I think this was around April, when I was working graveyard shifts in a kiosk for the company I’m currently working for. Through Yes, (and RedBulls), I found King Crimson’s song The Court of The Crimson King, which, to a Christian-stoner like me, just plainly made sense. Yes. I am in the court of the Crimson King. We are all in the court of the Crimson King. We are all in the court of the Devil. We are in the court of The Ancient Accuser. But we are led by The Eternal Advocate, whom is The Holy Spirit, whom is Jesus Christ, “Lord both of the living and of the dead” (Romans 14:9). Being led by Him, we are free of our obligation to sin. We are freed from death. We are safe. More so, we are true.
Here’s the thing about all this: there is a fire in the world that is purifying everything. We are becoming who we were always meant to become. Only God is in control of this. But he has given us the opportunity to work with him in this. If we work with God, by helping those whom are oppressed, by fighting against the violent colonialist power-structure this world is founded on, which is funded and kept alive by an already defeated enemy, satan, whom is “fading away, along with everything that people crave” (1 John 2:17), we will see the glory of God, and God himself, herself, itself, in how it is, always, at all times, without ceasing, without wavering, burning, unshakeable, unfathomable, comforting, securing, Loving, always and forever, always and forever, always and forever, forever until the beginning of time. For you see, sometimes I think I’m crazy. But music reminds me that I’m not. There are people in places far away, while they are close by. There are places close by, even though they exist in people far away. There are homes. There is community. There is humanity. And we are beautiful. We are a masterpiece, drawn and sustained by the greatest thing that is, and we are even allowed to draw alongside The Master. Even if severe, even if everything falls away, I want to see God’s will be done. I will work on myself to finally channel God through me, and to surrender, which I have never done, and still have too much pride in me to do. I will humble myself, and Lord, I pray that you continue to humble me, so I can walk close to you, and not just the world. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m saying, or understand the magnitude of my words, but I know they are true, or better yet, I have faith that you are within them, and that you are within me, and I’m sorry for ever disappointing you, for ever betraying you, and for disposing of you like you weren’t the center of my life, the mid-point of my circle, the truth in the falsity, and the nothing in everything, and the mother that was with me when I existed elsewhere, since you are the only thing in this universe with the ability to do this. You are. You will be.
This brings me to Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. It is an incredibly bizarre album, with flashes of metal and folk that express the moods I often go through these days. I feel like my mind is just endless noise, an ocean of indescribable kipple that I often do not know what to do with, but still try to do something with, and in doing so, allow what ever it is, to do whatever it wants with me, conjoining, leaving, being, seeing, etc. The album is not for the faint of heart. But it is incredibly satisfying. Easy Money is of particular importance. Especially those first few moments.
“Doo da de dow dow, da di de dow, d-dow, doo doo doo
Doo da de dow dow, da di de dow, d-dow, doo doo doo
Doo da de dow dow, da di de dow, d-dow, doo doo doo
Doo da de dow dow, da di de dow, d-dow, doo doo doo”
Peace to you, whomever is reading this. May God’s glory light your days.