“Give me a smart idiot over a stupid genius any day” – Samuel Goldwyn
The people on the fringes make it all interesting. The people who can see beyond conventions. People who don’t have limits, nor care about them. The person who can remember pi to 22,000 decimal points. The person who can draw a city to pinpoint accuracy after staring at a picture for just a minute. The person who can describe the shape, color, character, texture and feel of integers. The person who can memories thousands of taxonomical features of crows. The person who got a pipe through his head and now can play Mozart by ear. People that are often shoved to the edges of our society. We need to learn from the amazing and accept the what we can’t understand. Brewers (and all humans for that matter), I humbly submit, might do well to live by this fact…it’s good to be on edge.
Washington state’s Elysian brewery has a reputation for putting out some interesting brews with some creative themes and fetching names. Their Savant IPA (or the beer formerly known as Idiot Sauvant) is no exception to this tradition – great label too. An especially sweet IPA lots of mango, orange, lemon, and other tropical goodness. There is a kick too – more floral than bitter. But hanging around either way. So, I would argue that this guy isn’t a true savant, certainly more than a one-trick pony. Hence, we need a record that can match the sort of savantitude with a good dash of fruity, floral, and fun. Errrr?
I would submit only one main man as rock’s most fabulous sort-of idiot savant. I speak, of course, of T. Rex. Now as far as guitar skills or song structure construction (as well as MENSA- high quotient in the boa-wearing intelligence) Marc Bolan is top notch, no argument. And The Slider remains one of my all time favorite rock out classics. However, let’s discuss the lyrics for a minute.
Exhibit A: Main Man
Bolan likes to rock now/Yes he does yes he does
Bolan likes to rock now/Yes he does, yes he does
Is there a sane man/Anywhere anywhere
Got giraffes in my hair/And I don’t care
Not since Bo Diddley has egotistic self-referential lyricism been so great and so simplistic. It is as if T. Rex had all the rhyming dictionaries in England set ablaze just so he would never be tempted to thumb through one. Or how about this:
Exhibit B: The Slider
I could never understand/The wind at all/Was like a ball of love
I could never never see/The cosmic sea/Was like a bumblebee
I have never never kissed /A car before/ It’s like a door
I have always always Grown my own before /All schools are strange
And when I’m sad/ I slide
At the core, I love all the subject matters Bolan tends to write about: rockin’, animals, cars, babies (I assume he means ladies here), space, dragons, space dragons, himself. I can’t help if I love these mini-poems that read like they were written by 1st graders tripping on illicit substances on a fieldtrip to the zoo (editor’s note: This blog does not think any elementary school aged children should be exposed to drugs. Well, really no one of any age should – except maybe T. Rex – he might could handle it). I can just imagine other famous lyric-smiths listening to the record. I see Leonard Cohen cringing then facepalming. Townes Van Zandt laughing his ass off between tugs of Old Grandad. And Bob Dylan feeling increasingly nauseous (especially since a song or two has lyrics the mention him – “Bobby’s alright, he’s a natural born poet and he’s just out of sight”). And while juvenile, guileless, and braggadocious (or perhaps just straight stupid), you still just love the way the words meld with the slinky guitar, bouncy conga drums, and perfectly fuzzy pop tunes. There is a fit that is otherworldly. Lyrics that couldn’t function in the real world. That are only good for one thing – glam rock accompaniment. They are pure, honest, and damned if not a little genius. But, I digress…
Beyond the “Idiot Savantness” of beer and album, they share several wonderful qualities. Slider and Savant are bright, fun, bubbly, and certainly don’t take themselves too seriously. Great for putting out a bottle and putting on the disc for social gatherings. No obligations except to have fun. And you don’t have to be a genius to do that. In fact, its probably better if you’re not one. Good thing for me.