Friday, March 13, 2009

Mr. Airplane Man - "Jesus on the Mainline" from the CD/EP Mr. Airplane Man

Mr. Airplane Man CD EP cover
Jesus on the mainline
Jesus on the mainline
Jesus on the mainline
You can call him up and tell Him what you want

He will come in a hurry Lord
He will come in a hurry Lord
He will come in a hurry Lord
You can call Him up and tell Him what you want

When you're sick and you can't get well
When you're sick and you can't get well
When you're sick and you can't get well
Call Him up and tell Him what you want

Jesus on the mainline
Jesus on the mainline
Jesus on the mainline
You can call Him up and tell Him what you want

Jesus on the mainline
Jesus on the mainline
Jesus on the mainline
You can call Him up and tell Him what you want
My tenth grade English teacher, Dr. Moss, was fond of telling a story about William Blake, the English poet, painter and mystic. Seems that a traveling salesman had knocked upon Blake's door one fine English twilight, but the poet's wife had refused the man, saying that Mr. Blake was indisposed, being back in the garden, speaking on a most urgent matter with Jesus Christ. . . .

Though Blake is known to have actually set up parlor visiting hours for the spirits of Dante, Michelangelo, Milton, and the biblical prophets in his later years, and is known to have told a visitor that a particular painting of his was well-liked by the Virgin Mary, and he knew it because she had told him so, a quick check with Alta Vista and Google does not allow me to verify Dr. Moss' story.

William Blake:  The Pastorals of Virgil Illustration 1

Whether that's an indictment of Dr. Moss, or of today's version of the internet, who can say?

But no matter. Like Bob Welch wrote a century and a half after Blake's death,

[I]t’s a meaningless question
To ask if those stories are right
’Cause what matters most is the feeling You get . . . .
Did William Blake's hairs stand on end as he dined with Ezekiel? Does Margaret Garrett's rabid slide guitar give you the shivers? Are the two feelings related?

A blog that is better able to come to its point than mine says that "Jesus on the Mainline" is about "uncomplicated access to spiritual guidance." But that's at best only partially right.

What got me about Dr. Moss' story, and what gets me about the lyrics to "Jesus on the Mainline," is how both suggest that a comfortable and familiar relationship is possible with the deeply mystic.

At least for some, anyway. I remain an atheist, though I've always said that just one ecstatic vision would transform me into the most pious of believers. But that golden and ethereal radiance has yet to flash at me through my windshield during my morning commute. No Virgin Mary no John the Baptist no Shiva, no Buddha, no nothing.

One one level this is no surprise at all, but on another level, it's very disappointing. I'm more than a little jealous of anyone who can simply pick up their cellphone and get, not just canonical advice from a spiritual adviser, but also a personal interview with their own savior.

America is not a Catholic nation, and it has never been one. But I think that the Catholic ideal of how you're supposed to contact the divine through appropriate channels is for the most part accepted by believers in our Protestant land. *

Like, now you have your work cap on, now you have your Friday night drinking cap on, now you have your Sunday morning praying cap on. And each cap comes with a different superior you report to.

I'm an atheist as I've said, but these Protestant ideals have still been transmitted to me. It's unavoidable. So it's not the idea that such a supercharged spiritual life can exist as opposed to the normal, um, everyday world of bodies that is so beguiling to me. It is that the transition between the two can be so seamless. One moment you're making breakfast. The next you're picking up the phone and talking to God.

You don't have to be St. Bernadette of Lourdes, anyone can do it, if so touched. Don't need a cardinal, don't need a coach. This whole Jesus on the Mainline thing is very DIY, very punk. Very delta blues, too, if you think about the fact that there wasn't any kind of band vote needed when Robert Johnson made his decision down at the Crossroads.

In other words, the whole thing is very Mr. Airplane Man, the deep soul of the blues and the buzzsaw noise of punk, Mississippi Fred McDowell and the Stooges, tell 'em what you want. And Margaret's angelic voice sweetly singing a third thing entirely, passion and inspiration illuminating the whole package, wrap it all up 'n' put it out on your own label, who cares if everyone thinks you're crazy or brilliant or both?

Mr. Airplane Man - Mr. Airplane Man - 08 - Jesus On The Mainline.mp3

192 kbps mp3, up for 6 weeks (Right click and save as target)


File under: Picking up the phone and talking to God rock

Mr. Airplane Man CD/EP scan

* . . . even by the holy rollers and the born-agains, who despite the personal relationship with Jesus they'd been promised, still seem to conduct all their spiritual business with the mega-pastors and the mega-churches. . . .(Back)

1 comment:

tad said...

Rastro:
U make some good points here, Specially about Xperiences w/ the mystic po10tially coming from NEwhere, at NE level.
Van Morrison got his connexion 2 Ghod (at least when he was growing up) by turning on his radio & hearing those far-off (blues & R&B) voices from America, turning up his radio Into The Mystic. Don't think he gets it that way NEmore -- as he got older he touched Ghod thru his music, when everything was working right (ASTRAL WEEKS, MOONDANCE, ST. DOMINIC'S PREVIEW; listen 2 his lyrics or read NE of the sometimes-puzzling interviews he's done -- if he could XPLAIN his songs, he wouldn't havta WRITE & SING them).
I think the po10tial 2 Xperience the Divine is all around us, just Dpends on how U're put 2gether, what U can sense, how U deal w/ things, what U're open 2.
Hope this isn't Ego, but this is how I feel: The closest I've ever bn or am ever gonna get 2 Ghod is when I'm writing, IN THE GROOVE, & stuff comes out I didn't Xpect & can't Xplain, but it's perfect, & it's like it ISN'T ME writing this stuff, I'm just a conduit. That blinding flash of illumination & inspiration, & then I'm OFF!
When I was a reporter & I'd write some silly off-the-wall feature just 4 fun that Cmd 2 WRITE ITSELF effortlessly, every word PERFECT from the start as if I was guided, & the sense of resolution at the Nd, cos I knew it was Really Good & Really Funny, even if I couldn't Xplain how it came out that way.... This sorta thing has happened 2 me MANY TIMES while writing.
But that's just the way I'm put 2gether -- others function & Xperience Divine Intervention (or whatever) diffrently. I feel like I was Put Here 2 Write, so.... Dpends on what U do & what U're in2, I think. & U havta B open 2 it.
Or mayB it was just the coffee. Intresting area, tho....
Best, -- TAD.