By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
For a time on Wednesday night, I sought out gray hairs and wrinkles, but let’s not start there. Our story really begins in 1999, when I read a review of “The Soft Bulletin,” an album by the Flaming Lips.
The band had gone through personnel changes. Among other troubles, one remaining member lost his father, another had a scary spider bite and a third survived a car crash. “The Soft Bulletin” emerged from heavy fuel.
The Lips’ creation embraces the fleeting nature of life and overlays it with a broken-down optimism. Obstacles can be overcome, the music argues, but even if a barrier is too high to surmount, there’s beauty in the attempt. It’s an extravagant, layered investigation of ups and downs, as well as the ordinary moments in between.
That’s my take, anyway. My wife doesn’t see the attraction and has little patience for the Flaming Lips. It’s an eccentric band, requiring an eccentric fan base. I’m proud to qualify.
I’ve bought several Lips’ albums over the years. Each one offers reasons to groove and reasons to think, but “The Soft Bulletin” remains a go-to experience. It fills me up almost every time.
A few weeks ago, I had my headphones on and was listening to the album at my desk while transcribing notes for a story. Mighty Daily Journal photographer C. Todd Sherman stopped by to say the Flaming Lips were coming to Mississippi.
“Do you want to go?” he said.
The question kind of answered itself.
So there we were with a group of friends at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale on Wednesday night. The Redheads in Charge of our group got us way up front, and the crowd filled in behind us.
A drunk woman kept trying to scoot in front of a guy standing next to me, but he held his ground. At one time he said, “I’m getting too old for this.” He was at least a decade younger than I am. I looked around at all the young faces. Even though I found folks with gray in their hair and wrinkles around their eyes, I wondered, am I too old for this?
The question answered itself when the Flaming Lips came on stage. They’re a hearty, well-traveled bunch from my generation, and the miles showed on their faces.
My messed-up knee managed surprisingly well, as I danced along with the Redheads in Charge and just about everyone else in the place.
The Lips didn’t play anything from “The Soft Bulletin,” but broken-down optimism was in the air. The concert ended with “Do You Realize?” Its words and rhythms continue to play through my mind:
“Do you realize – that everyone you know someday will die/And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know/You realize that life goes fast/It’s hard to make the good things last/You realize the sun doesn’t go down/It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.”
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.