and will continue to inspire me until the day i die is the bands Sparks.
The Sparks Brothers (Ron and Russell Mael) are just to me the most amazing, exciting and inspirational pair of men that i have ever encountered. They are a band that defies any for of catergorisation and transcends simple music into an expression of art. They have been going since the late 1960s and have released 22 albums to date (the latest being a radio musical based around Ingmar Bergman), despite both being in their 60s they have shown no signs of slowing down or a wish to retire from the pop schene. A couple of years ago when their 21st album, Exotic Creatures of the Deep, was released they decided to stage an amazing series of concerts where they played every one of their 21 albums in 21 nearly-consecutive nights (from my memory they had 2 days off a week so as not to die). I managed to get the 'golden ticket' to see every show (a gift from claire before we were together. It was the most amazing present i've ever recieved) and it was probably the best experience of my life.
Sparks music is truly genre-defying as they are true chameleons, changing their sound far more often than others well known for changing their styles (Bowie, Madonna etc) and have gone through glam-rock, prog-rock, disco, club/rave music, electronica and now a sort of operatic, multi layered symphony effect. And through all these multiple changes in musical style they have defied pop conventions, singing songs with lyrics which vary from stories of living cigarettes (Nicotina), the misery of being born beautiful (Funny Face), the misery of being born ugly (I Wish I Looked a Little Better), suicide pacts gone wrong (Here In Heaven), buyers remorse (I Bought The Missisippi River, Now That I Own The BBC) and so on and so forth.
When they do write songs with more traditional plots of love, heartache etc they always have a twist in the lyrics. For instance their song 'Perfume' lists a large string of ladies and their choice of scent before declaring the reason he loves the girl he has chosen is because she 'don't wear no perfume'. ('The Olfactory sense is the sense which most strongly evokes memories of the past. Well screw the past! That's why i want to spend my life with you). Or discussing that women can be won over as they are turned on by linguistic devices ('Chicks Dig Metaphors, use them wisely use them well and you'll never know the hell of loneliness). I could go on all day (and probably will right many, many other posts detailing my love for them).
Their looks are also commented on often. Russell was a classic 70s heartthrob with his huge poodle perm and handsome face but his brother with his slick backed hair, angry stare and Hitler/Chaplin moustache made them quite a novelty. Ron's moustache changes as often as their musical styles and he even wrote a song about the merits of sporting a 'tache.
Ron writes the songs and plays the keyboards while Russell sings and, even to this day, leaps around the stage and dances. They have an amazing sense of humour, once claiming that they were Doris Day's illegitimate children (this led many confused journalists to claim their 'real names' were Ronald and Russell Day) and saying the reason they were more popular in England than their native America was because Russell has bad teeth. I had the honour of meeting them at a signing during their 21 albums in 21 nights and they told me i was 'really cute' and they liked my outfit. I just stood and trembled and repeatedly told them that they were amazing. I wish i could have said something more.
So, why do this band and these 2 individuals inspire me so much? Well firstly their lyrics have inspired me to make many, many paintings, outfits or looks based upon the stories they tell. But mainly I just think they truly represent the spirit of individuality. They show me that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being exactly who you want to be, even if your appearance makes shop assistants run screaming from you in Woolworths (like poor Ron). That you can get to amazing places by doing just what you want to do without changing to meet what is popular at the time. And they teach me to never, never give up.
Also this counts as my post for Muso Mondays! :P