I have created a hypothetical fad of the future: Novelty contact lenses with a water-tight layer of thermotropic liquid crystals. This is the material used in mood rings.
Imagine if one contact lens could be all these colours?
Your eyes could change to anything within the normal spectrum of human eye colour. I call this product: ALL EYES ON YOU. Get it? All eyes on you? Ha. Yeah...
But stupid hypothetical marketing name aside, apart from the fact people might be a bit nervous to have thermotropic crystals so near their light detecting organs, it could be a good seller - on the novelty factor alone.
The real reason I am talking about eyes though, is less about a potential money spinner, and more about the newly released How to Destroy Angels (HTDA) music video "How Long". HTDA is a musical collaboration between Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor, and wife Mariqueen Maandig but on a side note, I don't care how many cool things Reznor has done, it's almost eclipsed by that trainwreck of a bandname: How to Destroy Angels. Could it be anymore teenage goth? It's so 90's it practically bleeds black lipstick.
Thankfully, in my opinion "How Long" as a song and music video are not too bad. View it on the NPR website here.
There were three things I was immediately reminded of during watching it, these were:
- Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" (thematically)
- When Doves Cry - cover by Quinton Tarver from the 1997 Romeo and Juliet - OST (musically)
- the repeated use of "glowing eyes" as a motif in music videos.
Glowing Eyes in Music Videos 101:
1. From the imagination of art director Rob Sheridan. "How Long" - How to Destroy Angels.
2. "Midnight City" by M83 and they liked their glowing eyes so much they repeated it in "Reunion" a couple of years later.
3. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - Bonnie Tyler.
The one that inspired them all?
I wonder if this music video makes any more sense now than it did back when it was released.
Glowing eyes in music videos. What does it all mean? TVTropes describe glowing eyes as a character designer's "shorthand" for suggesting power. Glowing eyes usually suggest the person or thing in possession of them is supernatural or alien. That works for No.2 and No.3 of the above, but in terms of "How Long" - it's a dystopic view of our own future so perhaps the interpretation is that in one version of the future we are no longer human as we know it or that we lose our humanity.
Glowing eyes in music videos. It's a thing.
In an earlier blog post I advocated 1960's Stax Record classic: "Hold on, I'm Comin' " as the theme tune for the sun coming up.
The lyrics work. In the context of the sunrise it's a bit like: "Everyone calm the f**k down, I've got this. Hold on, I'm comin.'" In case you were worried tomorrow wasn't coming, the sweet sounds of soul duo Sam & Dave will serenade you daily with the promise that it is.
But forget the sunrise for a moment.
It's not what this song is about. Dig a little deeper and you find out it was inspired by songwriter/producer David Porter's trip to the toilet to relieve himself after drinking copious amounts of coffee and suffering through an unproductive day of future hit making with songwriting partner Isaac Hayes.
As the story goes, Hayes yelled at David to hurry up and finish peeing so they could get back to work and actually write something to which Porter replied: "Hold on man, I'm coming." As soon as the words were out of his mouth Porter knew they'd be a killer name for a song.
Of course this evolved from it's humble porcelain throne beginnings to a song about a man being safe harbour for his lover. Although all bets are off on the bridge lyrics which could be argued to mean something completely different. I'll let you muse on that.
"Lemme hear ya'll
You talk to me
For satisfaction, oh, hold on
Call my name, oh, call my name yeah for quick reaction
Yeah yeah yeah yeah"
But it wasn't even that bridge that the conservative radio stations at the time had a problem with. It was the song title itself, it was too suggestive. So it was re-titled on all the US original vinyls to 'Hold on, I'm A-Comin', which I don't think is any better really? Minds will make the leap anyway. Conservatives probably more frequently than their counterparts.
The origins of the song however aren't what I really wanted talk about though. It's the album artwork. The turtle. Sam and Dave on the turtle. The great, big, gaudy cartoon turtle. I've been looking at it. And I've been trying to figure it out.
And I must have been one of the only people that has wondered about that bloody turtle because there is damn near no information on it on the Internet.
What I do know is that the cover was designed by Ronnie "Angel" Stoots who was behind the iconic Stax Records logo and artwork for musical releases by Eddie Floyd* and Otis Redding:
Unfortunately Stoot's passed away about a month ago so we'll never be able to ask him about the significance of the turtle on Sam & Dave's hit record. So we are only left with speculation.
Here are my theories:
1. The turtle is a characteristically slow animal. So they're not in a hurry to get wherever they're going if they're choosing the turtle over a cheetah or a hare. Therefore it could be a bit of a swag statement "Hey baby, I'm here for you - but in my own sweet time yeah". Making the song a bit of a backhanded promise. And soul, it's so much about the swag.
2. Stoots drew something he dreamt.
3. Stoots is from Memphis Tennessee and the Stax record label was born out of that scene. Guess what the native reptile of Tennessee is? The Box Turtle.
3.1 So we have the Box Turtle. But let's take it one step further and get Freudian on this. If you've read any Freudian case histories like the infamous Dora and her subsequent dream interpretation in which she had to save her jewellery box from the burning fire, you'll know Freud believes the 'box' is an allegory for the female reproductive system. Soul is as much about swag as it is about seduction, so it's not entirely without foundation.
But who knows really?
Stoots' has taken this musical mystery to his grave and therefore we can only look upon this vinyl artwork with an eternal: Why?, Perhaps and ...
*Why does Eddie Floyd have an axe? If he's knocking on wood I feel like he should have a hammer.