Essential Henry Rollins
Last night I the pleasure of seeing Henry Rollin’s latest spoken word tour “The LONG MARCH”.As words could do NO REAL JUSTICE to this ABSOLUTELY STUNNING PERFORMANCE rather than doing a traditional review of the show I thought I would RE VAMP then re-release a previously written article.
Henry Rollins is a multidisciplinary artist who has now inspired an entire generation with his talks, his musical endeavors, his cameo appearances, his talk show, and his writings. His work is so divers it makes one wonder how they all come together in one man. His work is so influential I have even seen his name mentioned by the editor in the magazine “Best Life”, a magazine designed for CEO types looking for the “Best” in life. Through all this though I believe the true genius still lays hidden. Most of the truth can be found in what I believe is the foundation for all the rest of his creative endeavors, his writing. Here are in my opinion some essential Rollins. These are works from all his creative endeavors, those which have had the greatest effect on me as an artist who has followed his career.
First off you have to see Rollins live, and I am not talking about his spoken word, you sitting there drinking wine and being amused. I am talking about HOT ANIMAL MACHINE, Grunting, Groaning, Yelling, and Foaming at the Mouth. The power that this man and his band mates generate is mind blowing. When I saw Rollins he had a carpet, on that carpet he sweats, he spit and he snorted. No other member of the band stepped on that carpet and he never stepped off it, it was like that was his lair. A beast in its most comfortable setting is truly a beautiful thing especially when it seems oblivious to the fact that anyone else is watching. What that man can do on stage would make your average person believe that he was part Olympian, and had magic power. Truly though it is only him and the energy created from the belief or feelings brought through him by the music. It truly is a beautiful thing. At 51 he says there is no chance a reunion of Andrew, Sim, Chris and Rollins would be something special though. And I KNOW ROLLINS and WEISS are still up to the task as I seen both within the past couple years.
Turned On – A live Rollins album recorded on their 1989 tour this particular show was recorded in Vienna. First off it had to be stated I LOVE live albums. You name it I own it. Motorhead “No Sleep till Hammersmith”, Kiss “Alive 1-4”, Judas Priest “Unleashed in the East”, Iron Maiden “Maiden Japan”, Ozzy “Speak of the Devil”, even Black Sabbath’s “Past Lives”. I OWN EM ALL!!! I know live albums and “Turned On” is the hardest hitting BLUES METAL JAM ever created on earth. Listening to this takes me to another plain of existence every time. Recorded in one track it is a musical adventure through the ebbs and flows of a live performance. This is one of the few Albums that sound better on CD than on Vinyl as having to turn over and change discs interrupts the musical promenade. Buy them both as the Vinyl is a cool double album.
Selected Writings- Now I am going to group some of this together as some of it blurs between which books are which, as some have similar themes and most I read them many years ago. Black Coffee Blues, Eye Scream, See a Grown Man Cry/ Now Watch Him Die, Bang and Pissing in the Gene Pool. These are similar in the fact they are journal entries or compilations. Some of it falls under the category of fictional writing some could be classified as prose, it is all Rollins though. A look at one mans journey in the search of where he fits in his society. This not for the faint of heart though, as he lays reality on thick, recounting bigotry he faces, the violence that surrounds him and the reality of poverty he endures. They are easily read, amusing and thought provoking.
Get in The Van- These are his tour diaries from Black Flag. It is about life on the road with a punk rawk band. If you never lived it, you might not know that it’s not all glamour? Sometimes your gonna need to get out and push .
Talking From The Box – This VHS tape was recorded after Henry had some financial success; if I am correct he was now signed to a “MAJOR MINOR” label, had some distribution and had made a name for himself through his spoken word and writings. Much like his other spoken word works, it is him discussing his life what he has seen and his opinions. In this spoken word set he tells of the death of his Best Friend Joe Cole it is very moving as he discusses the loss of someone he cared about greatly.
The Rollins Show – Henry’s interviews are always great because he is so well spoken has put such a great thought into his questions. What makes him an even better interviewer is the fact he listens. My favorite interviews are those with Ozzy Osbourne and Samuel Jackson. I also just found a great interview with Shepard Fairey.
Solipsist- This is Henry’s greatest literary work that I have read .I think he said it best when he says, “I saw the word Solipsist while reading the dictionary in 1993. I was living in NYC at the time and the word defined how the city made me feel. I worked on this book in several cities all over the world until 1996. The writing is obsessive and claustrophobic. To be solipsistic is to totally realize the ego and the nightmare of utter self-possession. I went for it and it swallowed me whole.” And swallow him whole it did as after this work he seems to have changed. Becoming less angry, more forgiving and more understanding, no longer looking to break the world into understanding his point of view allowing them to see that view through good nature and altruistic actions though.
FINALLY you SIMPLY MUST SEE HIS SPOKEN WORD LIVE. NOTHING can COMPARE to the ENERGY HE EMITS, the THOUGHTS he PROVOKES or EMOTIONS STIRRED!!!!!!Like a Disney movie his audience is left SPELLBOUND and CAPTIVATED as he takes you on a STRANGE and TWISTED tale through MODERNITY.Created all through only the use of the STORIES he TELLS, the tonality of his VOICE and his MASSIVE STAGE PRESENCE. No bells or whistles here just ONE MAN, LIGHTS, a BLACK SHIRT and JEANS and his AUDIENCE. He is ARTICULATE, THOUGHTFUL and AMUSING. You will leave the venue with the feeling you just got PUNCHED REAL HARD 8X in the head. His thoughts and outlook on the MODERN WORLD and YOUR ROLE in it will leave you questioning your EXISTENCE and how YOU TOO CAN PLAY A LARGER PART. Besides where else could you find out ABRAHAM LINCOLN is his SURROGATE or what ELSE he has going on….
This list was composed mostly of his non musical endeavors I am also an avid listener to his music. This was designed to show you a side of an artist you thought you might know. Do yourself a favor check it out and see if it speaks to you. LONG LIVE THE HOUSE THAT ROLLINS BUILT!!!!!!