Did you think I was bluffing? Blubbering? Blowing it out of my blow hole? I’m doing it. A week of rock songs about Whales. Let us begin in high school. Moby Dick. Herman Melville. The only American to be as hated by school kids as William Shakespeare. 1851. I was often lead to believe the book was often just titled The Whale in it’s first pressing. The Moby Dick part inserted once a suitable buzz around it’s publication had meant it was up against other books hurriedly written to cash in on the novels success. If you will allow me some licence; what we’re describing here is very much the straight to video phenomenon which led us from Jaws to Piranha, Alligator, Canalagator to Sharknado and full circle to The Meg. Only in times new roman and without showing you its ankles. This is a topic I’m well versed in. For those of you who missed my subversion of The Rock-o-Meter and the highs and lows on The Shark Movie back when Stuff and That was a going concern I can only say, the zeitgeist waits for no man. At least you’re here for Whale Week.
Mastodon. They may look like Vikings come to pillage your village but they had some books to read in their cabin on the cruise over here. They may be metal but they’ve done their homework (We’ve discussed how metalhead kids do better in History and English lit classes because of the references made by bands they listen to before). How else could the magnificent Leviathan album so accurately and in such detail retell the tale of Ahab’s quest and the briney battle with the great white devil Moby Dick? The trick they deployed here was to make the lyrics unintelligible growls, the drums thudding gunfire and the riffs thick sludgy elemental forces that toss the listener around. To listen to Leviathan is like marching into the sea only to be rebuffed by waves taller and more powerful than a mortal can resist. It’s one of my favourite feelings by the way, getting my arse kicked by a salt water mosh-pit of surf while I’m thrown about like a rag doll, ohh lookit, a reference to yesterday post (this is like classic literature itself this site, I tell thee).
So maybe I Am Ahab doesn’t capture all of Melville’s nuance around life on the Pequod. Each song on the album is left a ravaged wreck by the time the band have pummeled their way through it though. Like The Rachel, The Delight and the other hearses launched out of Nantucket in pursuit of the one who took Boomers arm. If the listener considers himself the Captain and the music the ocean then surely it is the band who represent the big old blubber boy. Look. Being forced to read it in high school is one thing. Reading it for fun as an adult, it’s quite the wild ride. Especially if you’re listening to metal on repeat as you do.
I’ve given my thought’s on Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick before so for a little juxtaposition and while were still near the beginning of this voyage, let me digress. Mastodon’s Leviathan may sound how Melville’s novel reads. Let us not do a whole week on just the set text though. I’m going to diversify. If you’re going to Call Me Ishmael before we take this Nantucket Sleighride, you’d better Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly…
In Homework terms, it may be 35 years late but I have finally written 500 words on Moby Dick. This one’s for you Miss Long*!
*Miss Long was my English Teacher when I was 11 and she was a wonderful woman who’s kindness still encourages me from time to time even now.