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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Willow Farm - Changing into a Human Being

The 23 minute epic progressive rock anthem that deals with life and death, war and the Revelation of St John the Divine.

And in the middle of it, after a battle and after a Greek demogod has re-enacted a scene from Ovid's Metamorphosis at the top of a mountain of human flesh - this breaks out.
There's Winston Churchill dressed in drag,
he used to be a British flag, plastic bag, what a drag.
The frog was a prince, the prince was a brick, the brick was an egg,
the egg was a bird.
(Fly away you sweet little thing, they're hard on your tail)
Hadn't you heard?
(They're going to change you into a human being!)
Yes, we're happy as fish and gorgeous as geese,
and wonderfully clean in the morning.
I'm English. I don't know if this is definitively English, because I regard this kind of stuff as pretty normal. But if the English are known for one thing, I'd like to hope that this kind of outbreak of sheer, joyful drivel in the middle of a moderately serious piece of music is the sort of thing it is.

It's the kind of thing that brought us the Olympic opening ceremony, four years ago. (Four years? Was it really?) It's the sheer desire to face the music and dance that leads to a serious poll to name a serious research boat "Boaty McBoatface". It's the thing that, once the po-faced outrage dies down, lets even Christians in England decide that Life of Brian is quite funny. If despite the best efforts of the BBC and Revd Kate Bottley, Judas really did go to Hell, there'll have been an Englishman going down in the same batch, remarking "and not only is it hot, Judas - but you're ginger. Never thought of that, did you? Still, mustn't grumble. I'd knot your hanky if I were you."

And so the greatest war time Prime Minister, just 8 years after his death, was described as being dressed in drag, having previously been a plastic bag. Surreal rhymes are thrown into the mix in a gleeful mixture of folklore and unlikely simile.

There's just one line in this whole frolic that brings me up short. "They're going to change you into a human being!" (Which in the "Seconds Out" version, unless my memory fails me, is greeted with "Oh No!")

What is so disturbing for - I presume - a supernatural being in being turned into a human being? Well, if you're supernatural, you may be immortal - or at least of extremely extended life. You may be immune to pain. You may have superpowers.

Well, faced with that - what sort of supernatural being would ever want to be a human being - breakable, mortal, able to be cut, hurt, bruised? I mean - who on earth would want to do that?  The Little Mermaid did, and she did it for love. I'd never thought of the Little Mermaid as a type of Christ, literally until I wrote that last sentence. But I'm going to - not draw a strong parallel. Just that one. She becomes a mortal human being and, faced with temptation, chooses to do the right thing and dies. God's Son becomes a mortal human.... well, yeah. You've got the rest.

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