Monday, November 20, 2006

(58) Pearls Before Swine and Metallica

Art historians have not focused much on war, or on war and health, or religion and health, ceding the larger view of things to singer-songwriters and rock stars. In Tom Rapp’s first Pearls Before Swine album, One Nation Underground (1967), the image on the album cover seems to have to do with antiwar themes that were expressed much more blandly in the lyrics (“I shall have peace as leafy trees are peaceful”). But like The Garden of Delights/El Jardín de las Delicias, the lyrics also contain a code,
Dit Dit Dah Dit
Dit Dit Dah
Dah Dit Dah Dit
Dah Dit Dah

It was notorious at the time since
'…It got Murray the K in trouble.’
The New York deejay played ‘(Oh Dear) Miss Morse’ on AM radio. It turned out that very few people knew Morse code, but among them was every Boy Scout in America. (Washington Post)

The video of Metallica’s “Until It Sleeps” (1996; originally on the 1996 album Load, and also on a compilation DVD to be released in December, 2006) includes images adapted from The Garden of Delights/El Jardín de las Delicias, and since the band is well known there is an explanation that goes beyond the lyrics by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich to say that the song has to do with Hetfield’s father dying of cancer and refusing medical treatment because of his religious beliefs.


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