Thursday, September 23, 2004

Jung, Paramahansa Yogananda, Beards, and Vests

Some bits of an interview with David Johansen:

"I'd been reading The Portable Jung," famed New York Dolls frontman David Johansen explains. "If you accept his theory of development, you take everything you've been doing and throw it all away every twelve years or so, to keep yourself interested in life. People who get into that 'Been there, done that' mindset are looking at life as a system that can be used up, but there's so much to know, so much to do, especially in music and the arts. The Jungian thing is to keep an open mind about things. I thought it would be fun to fool around with Syl and Arthur again, and I said, 'Okay, I'll do it.'"

Even if the Dolls' intentions are good, there's still the danger of tainting the band's "legacy," such as it is. "A lot of people ask me how I feel about doing the old Dolls songs," Johansen admits. "And when I look back, the first time I started thinking about that was when I was walking up onto the stage. It all happened so fast -- the rehearsals, the trip to England -- that I never had a thought about doing the show. I just went up there and wailed into the mic, and it all came back to me. Paramahansa Yogananda has a saying: 'Every day can be the best day of your life.' And that's the way it turned out."

The concerts have drawn rave reviews from critics, many praising the Dolls' still-palpable energy. Not too band for a bunch of geezers (well, okay, two geezers) approaching sixty. "Despite my misspent youth, I'm in the best shape of my life," Johansen says. "I'm constantly surprised by my endurance. I haven't put it to the test in a while, 'cause in the last band [the Harry Smiths, which explored the acoustic roots of American folk and blues] I was sitting on a stool with a guitar and a beard. Now I'm shaved -- except for some impressive muttonchops -- and jumping around on stage like a man two years younger than I am. Age is an odd thing. Turns out we're impervious to it. When I was a kid and looked at someone my age, he was likely to be a tired-looking, baldheaded father who wore a vest."
Advanced people usually describe their latest work in grandiose terms. In this interview, Johansen manages to bring up Jung and Paramahansa Yogananda when talking about a New York Dolls reunion. I want to hear more about the difference between a man who wears a beard and one who wears a vest.

I'd like to add that everyone at my wedding formed a conga line when "Hot, Hot, Hot" came on, and it was wonderful fun.

No comments: