It's not just fiction and foreign films that provide fertile breeding ground for magical realist concepts. Rock and roll isn't all thinly veiled illusions to drugs (from Lou Reed's Perfect Day to The Las There She Goes) or faux-androygynous macho posturing a la Led Zepellin or Bush. Here's a list of tracks we think you should buy, beg, borrow or steal to listen to.
1. Plateau (Meat Puppets II), Meat Puppets
Meat Puppets were the masters of magical realist music, particularly with their first two eponymous albums and the last bona fide Meat Puppets album, Too High to Die. And Plateau is the pinnacle of Curt Kirkwood's under-rated lyricism. The song is told mainly in second person, as another 'hand' attempts to 'scale the grand old face of the plateau'. The climb is decorated along the way by 'holy ghosts and talk show hosts' that are planted up the cliff-side like cactuses, along with the hands of previous climbers, all waiting to aid the new climber on his or her way.
Once the plateau has been reached, a bucket and mop (along with a book on ornithology) await the climber, who then, it seems, spends the rest of the day cleaning. After this there's time to stop and admire the work that's been accomplished. But, impatient and unsatisfied with their lot, by now most of the hands begin to search for a new plateau, although perhaps the wisest of them decide this new challenge is nowhere, or perhaps anywhere, where there is beauty and contentment.
The music sounds a plodding mix of fun and danger, struggling, like the climber, to maintain a straight route to its destination, until Kirkwood's shimmering guitar solo emerges from the desert dust like the zen-like realisation of perfection at the edge of the plateau itself.
2. God (Under the Pink), Tori Amos
A pretty simple song as far as Tori Amos's often cryptic song-writing is concerned. This is simply about the suggestion that perhaps God might do a better job if he had a woman to help him out. Cornflake Girl, from the same album, is probably the peak of magical realism in song, but I can't be sure as I've absolutely no idea what it's about.
3. The Man Who Sold The World (The Man Who Sold The World), David Bowie
No stranger to the influence of genre literature on his work, the man who brought the world Ziggy Stardust here weaves what feels like a wandering post-apocalyptic tale of resentment and regret.
4. I Am the Highway (Audioslave), Audioslave
Chris Cornell tells the story of a man trying to escape someone he feels is beneath him, explaining that the narrator feels he is so much greater than his suitor's imagination: he is the night rather than just the moon; and the highway, not the tiny wheels that roll over it.
5. Plastic Man (All The Great Lost Kinks), Kinks
A man made out of plastic from his plastic head down to his plastic bum. Told in Ray Davies inimitable style.
6. Us and Them (Dark Side of the Moon), Pink Floyd
A saddening and oppressive song in which the lyrics, like much of the album, are transformed by the haunting the music surrounding them into something greater are more universal than their humble college-philosophy origins.
7. I Am the Walrus (Magical Mystery Tour), The Beatles
Perhaps the most famous of songs with both feet firmly planted in the fantastic. This owes much to Lewis Carroll.
8. Ants Invasion (Kings of the Wild Frontier), Adam and the Ants
On the one hand a post-punk B-movie homage; on the other, a man contemplating the impact of bad decision making.
If you liked the above, you might also want to give a listen to Radiohead's Street Spirit (Fade Out), Gogol Bordello's Start Wearing Purple and Captain Beefheart's Blue Jeans and Moonbeams.
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