“LIVE’s ‘Turn My Head’ as a Paean to Summer Itself”

I am a man of strong opinions. In this way, it’s a good thing I’m a blogger. I’m a man of strong opinions… about LIVE. In this way, it’s a good thing I grew up in the ’90s with friends that aptly pegged them as “that decade’s Journey,” beholden to numerous and abundant songs that are famous and hummable even though you don’t know who the he** sings them.
LIVE always had a way of just blending in. For this reason, then, definitely, as a sort of unrelated note, it’s quite ironic that “Freaks,” the music video DD ranked best of all time about a year ago, is about TRYING to blend in and not being able to.
Within rock, LIVE materialize as a precise litmus test for the ’90s, finding their stupefyingly underrated third album Secret Samadhi, an album almost uncannily rejective of the poppy and hit-seeking, considering its following a mega-platinum, ACCUSED of being these very things, poppy and crowd-catering, by resident meat-tearers only adherent to a music’s outer sheen, and not the level of heart and genuineness feeding its velocity from beneath the surface. All in all, it was a pretty good time to be a band, it would seem, unless you listened to the augmented noise of the jealous media, in certain cases.
“Turn My Head” is the third single off of the precociously dark and tense Secret Samadhi (1997) and as such came to full radio play in the summer. I will always associate it personally with being 13 and swimming in my hometown’s pool which for some reason is no longer open, playing some ill water-basketball with some girls the year the WNBA started and finding it buddy up to Tonic’s “If You Could Only See”; Duncan Shiek’s “Barely Breathing” and Fools Garden’s “Lemon Tree” on pop radio at the time.
I was about 20 to 21 years to young for “Turn My Head,” at that time (the situation exacerbated by the fact that Metallica’s cover of “Turn the Page” was big about that time too, which I liked a little better, probably), cottoning on, mind you, to all the singles from the prior album Throwing Copper without much trouble. “Turn My Head” is, literally, the work of a band that had matured. It happens to be their absolute simplest chorus of any major radio hit they’d had to date (a sign of crisp artistic vision, like R.E.M.’s “Talk about the Passion”) and so works like efficient allegory, full of expressionist lyrical aside (“Your dress is torn to shreds”) [1], so that even anatomically, it takes legs as an exact replica of life itself, wherein you have to ignore the outer noise and calamity and just get on with your life. Even worse, perched on summer, you have to find some outside force to transport you to your next journey, when you know the present one will be gone too soon.
[1] With this we’ll observe a strong recurring theme in Ed Kowalczyk’s lyrics of wanting to protect woman’s purity, a la “Lightning Crashes”; “Lakini’s Juice”; “Freaks” et. al.

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