The Boogie Man Cometh

- Page Four -

by Bruce Harris (1972)

Bolan's view of the whole T. Rex phenomenon, and his own staggering success in particular, is based to a great extent on his very real faith in himself as an artist. His sloppy live performance - though it goes over astoundingly well in Europe - makes him seem to an American audience perhaps less serious than he really is. "The thing about audiences", he says, "is that you can do everything and show everything, if you do it in the right way. And you can be human and an angel in the wrong way, and they'll shit all over you. And that's true for people in general. The only time anyone ever breaks really big is when they decide, 'Up you, baby!' Then you go out and just do exactly what you want, and you're prepared to have tomatoes thrown at you. And whenever you do that, you always win. When I first got into the electric thing, I didn't know whether we were going to be successful or not. I was broke. I just thought, 'fuck it! I'm really going to stretch my head all the way, and if people don't like it, I'll be very upset, but tough shit!' And it's only when you hit that point that you can really make it."

Marc feels that the resultant fame has greatly altered the way he thinks and feels about things: "It's always very painful for me to write anything now, but it's also very easy. I don't think I was really a man until I became a pop star. I accept responsibility now, and I take on things that I would never have done before. I feel allegiance with people. I feel a great response from my audience, and I respond to that. And not only in concert. I wouldn't put anything out on a record thta I didn't believe was 100% what I wanted."

For some people the notion of taking Bolan seriously seems pretty far removed from reality. Like so many other artists during the sixties and seventies, he must function within the realm of pop media. As a result, his approaches, both musical and lyrical, are of necessity rather direct and simplistic, a fact that leaves him open for criticism. But despite all the glitter and flash, no one takes Bolan more seriously than Bolan himself. And at this stage of the game, there are still some minds to be won over: "When someone says to me - especially with the European thing - 'you're just jive teenage idols.' I play them "Ballrooms of Mars", and if they still say that, then they just ain't got no brains. People sometimes say to me, 'you know, Marc, I like your singles and their nice and everything, but they don't really mean anything do they?' I can't believe it. I say, 'I can't talk to you! Have you listened to the words of that song?' And they say, 'No, you know, they're nonsense, aren't they, Marc? Aren't they really? Come on, tell me!' I can't really understand that. They're privileged to say it, but I can't carry on a conversation with them. When you're bleeding for people - you know, I'm not saying bleeding like Judy Garland - I'm saying when you're actually being really truthful, that really hurts. There's a lot of truth, a lot of real down-home truth in my work. It's not hard to really know where I'm at, if you really listen and attempt to get into what the songs are about." What was it the Slider sang?

I could never understand the wind at all
Was like a ball of love
I could never see the cosmic see
Was like a bumble bee

Marc feels very strongly that "The Slider" album, especially because of songs like "Spaceball Ricochet", reveals his mind more than any of his other work. "It took a lot of thought", he says, "about whether or not I wanted to expose that much of myself to people. "Spaceball Ricochet" is just totally autobiographical, nothing creative. I just wrote out the things I was feeling, and when it was done, I decided that that was what I had written, and so I'd record it that way."

Interestingly enough, Marc borrowed the "spaceball" image from the kid who lives downstairs from him. "This little black kid", he whispers, "is only three and a half years old, but he's always giving me lines like that. He calls baseball boots "spaceball boots". When I heard that, I just knew I had to use it. He doesn't really know who I am. I'm just Mr. T. Rex to him. There's always about a hundred chicks hanging around outside the house, and he chats them off and gets "sweeties" from them, and he says, "I wash Mr. T. Rex's hair every day," and he tells them terrible lies. Then he comes running back upstairs shouting, "Mr. T. Rex! Mr. T. Rex!" Sometimes he sits on the front of the Rolls Royce with his bum on the fender."

The next question, of course, was, "have you been deeply influenced by black music?" Like David Bowie who once declared that he feels "very white" when he writes, Bolan feels he has only been influenced by black music indirectly via rock 'n' roll. His main influences, in his own mind, are Elvis Presley ("Even though he ripped off everything from the black artists of his time"); Bob Dylan ("even though lately he hasn't come across with the goods at all... I've written a million books like "Tarantula"); former Pink Floyder, Syd Barrett ("He's the real leader of camp rock, wearing mascara a fucking twelve years ago... Syd's one of the few people I'd actually call a genius... he inspired me beyond belief"); and Jim Morrison ("That's rock 'n' roll!").

Bolan's own style ideally balances art and commercialism without compromising what he has to say. In a sense, the greatest thing about him is that he sells. His particular individual genius is his talent for combining poetry with the cliches of pop lyrics and compounding them into a new language with an old vocabulary, a sort of rock 'n' roll poetry:

Beneath the be-bop moon
I wanna croon
With you
Beneath the mambo sun
I've got to be the one
For you

Imagery is juxtaposed with a lot of "ooo yeahs" and Bolan is always sure to hit you with a simple chorous full of what record company people call "hooks".

Cuz you're my babe
Yes you're my love
Girl I'm just a jeepster
For your love

All this, and that good old Bolan riff too.

Next: Final Thoughts - Politics, Etc.

<== Return to Page Three | Go To The Next page ==>

Page revised 3/11/2K, RAE Productions