“Remember what the song says ‘don’t let ’em get you down’. The most important thing is love. All you know or all you need to know. Or was that beauty? What’s the difference? Love your family, love your neighbor, love your enemy as yourself. Go on loving, it’s what humans do best and the one thing they can’t kill, got it? This is Will of The Wisp, the time now is no time, the temperature is cold, the news is blue. For now, the light still shines.”
So begins the last broadcast of talk radio DJ Will o’ Wisp (played and partially written by Stephen King) on the night before the US Government shuts down all outlets of free speech. Will’s last night is filled with diatribes against the current situation mixed with a hopefulness that maybe things will change (while admitting such hope is helped with a bottle of Jack Daniels), while playing the band from the discography of the fictional band Hierophant.
Hierophant is, of course, artist Shooter Jennings, the madman and son of outlaw country music legend Waylon Jennings. Black Ribbons is a concept album Jennings released in 2010 and is now getting getting a new release this November just in time for the election. In addition to the new version of Black Ribbons, Jennings is dropping bi-weekly rants on topics he talked about in Black Ribbons on his podcast Beyond the Black (which can be found at http://www.beyondthe.black). Jennings goes into his inspirations for the projection, including late night radio hosts and Alex Jones, as well as his own research into esoteric subjects such as the Book of Enoch. The NWO as well as the Bilderbergs are also discussed. He eventually starts going into reptilians, which is where I personally started to shut down. While you may not agree with his world views, you won’t be bored listening to Beyond the Black, that’s for sure.
Back on topic, Black Ribbons is a very strange album as Hierophant’s music run from whiskey soaked blues (God Bless Alabama, Black Ribbons), hard rock, 70’s rock inspired ballads (Lights in the Sky), and my favorite, the punk-rap song “Fuck You (I’m Famous)“. The topics in the songs paint the pictures of Jennings’s views on where society is heading — starting from his paranoia (or lucidity, depending on what you believe) in the summer of 2007 when the housing market crashed. The so called “Summer of Rage” is described in a song of the same name in which Jennings laments and hopes for the best of his children’s future. “Can’t trust nothing but the love in your mama’s eyes”, Jennings says to his child, before in the next version continuing “Salvation’s in your eyes”. Such despair weighed against hope is the crux of the album and what makes Black Ribbons powerful.
There is also a Black Ribbons point and click game on Shooter’s website that is a bit self-indulgent (as all of Shooter’s projects can be at times) but is worth checking out for those who like old school games and wish to delve deeper in the world of Black Ribbons. It can be found at: http://www.shooterjennings.com/blackribbonsthegame.swf
One of the more timely themes in Black Ribbons is how the government and media is dividing the country. Republican vs. Democrat, Black vs. White, Civilians vs. Police, etc. It’s all done to help them keep control of us by keeping us in fear. The government creates a problem and offers a solution and we thank them for it. I’m not saying I entirely agree with Jennings on this point, but it does have it’s truth. Love is our power and we need more of it.
Stephen King as the Will O’ Wisp is a genius bit of casting as King’s talent as a writer and American icon vastly proceeds him. His writing of the Will O Wisp segments run from thought-provoking to heart-breaking and his broadcast ends violently, we’re left with the instrumental reprise of “All of this Could Have Been Yours“, closing out the album on an air of bitter uncertainty, with the hope that the light may still yet shine again.
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