Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spoon on a Sunday

The NYTimes has a feature article on Spoon today on the eve of the release of their new CD, "Transference." Of course I had to read it since Spoon has become one of my favorite bands in the last 2-3 years. And to my delight, Spoon front man Britt Daniel referenced Dylan when commenting on the band's recent choice of recorded music after they leave the stage--the Star Spangled Banner followed by AC/DC's Back in Black. Why this combo? Because Dylan once left the stage in London to the playing of "God Bless the Queen."

"I always thought it was cool to play something very official afterward," said Daniel. And Spoon is cool. As the story in the Times suggests, "(Daniel's) classic vision of what is cool has guided the band since its inception." This, it seems is the band's musical classification. Are they indie, are the post-punk, are they rock and roll? They're cool.

As band member Eric Harvey tells it, Daniel insisted that none of the band members sport beards, beards just not being cool. Harvey points out that it was soon the thing for all the other bands to have beards. Not Spoon. "So, we can say the Spoon is not beard-rock." Whatever they are, they are cool.

The thing about cool is that you can't try to be cool. You have to be cool. And the other thing about cool is that you can't quantify it. It is what it is.

Daniel says the new CD is the one that sounds most like Spoon yet, which means I'll be buying it. "It's the spooniest," which is now an adjective I am committed to using if I can figure out how to be cool doing it.

I wrote in my top ten cd's of the decade list that listening to Spoon just made me feel cooler. It makes me feel like I'd look good in cigarette-leg pants and a button down shirt, which is probably an indication of how far I have to go. Cool is a tall order. Truth is, I spend most of my life feeling gangly and awkward. I know I'm cooler than some of my readers here, but these are people who read blogs about preaching and theology.

I'm content to do cool by "transference," to let others fill out that necessary aesthetic in life. I don't resent cool even if I can't live there. Part of the good news is beauty, and cool is part of that category. And cool doesn't judge. It doesn't have to.

But cool has its shortcomings. It attracts, but it doesn't embrace. And salvation is ultimately about embrace. I'm glad Jesus never said, "Blessed are the cool, for they shall inherit eternal life."

PS. Daniel is associated with two of the coolest places to live in the US. The band is from Austin, but Daniel currently lives in Portland.

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