Fulfilling the Esoterica Quotient: A look at Tubular Bells

Mike Oldfield: you're a douche

Bear with me for a moment here as I attempt to clumsily segue into whatever the hell I'm talking about: my good friend in Long Island plays rec league soccer, and frequently plays against a former Dutch League goalie-turned-alleged-embezzler, about whom someone created a website to warn others of his embezzlement... on said website there's a bizarre short video about the guy and his "crimes" that uses this song as the ominous backing track. It's Tubular Bells, and it drives me fucking insane.

The Exorcist is iconic for many reasons -- the spinning head, the vomit, the lame Leslie Nielsen spoof -- but one thing that truly frustrates me is the use of Tubular Bells, a song far more ubiquitous than it really should be. Composed and recorded in 1973 by Mike Oldfield, an English musician who's done nothing of note since beyond some weird electronic/celtic music, it's painful to listen to, painful to deal with, and NOT just because of its association with a possessed Linda Blair.

Take a listen and then get back to me:

It's prog before guys like Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson were able to spin it into a million complex time signatures and back the whole thing with a sonorous Moog. It's simplistic enough in its composition, but a testament to Oldfield's pomposity that performing the damn thing requires some 30 people on stage. And the collection of instruments! Mandolins, glockenspiels, and a vast array of other marginal music-making contraptions that even the most pompous people dare not break out in public. How self-important must you be to force a small army of session musicians to play through this rubbish?

(I swear there was a blog about Pomp and Culture where this might have scanned better, but I digress...)

I was reminded of this song this morning scanning that embezzlement website, and it brought back vivid memories of wishing I could kill my prog-loving parents, who gobbled up anything in Mike Oldfield's discography and anything by his French counterpoint, the interminable synth dribbler Jean-Michel Jarre.


Seriously, what is this shit and why do baby boomers go nuts for it?

No, they didn't do a ton of drugs, but they sure liked to mimic the sensation of having ingested three bars of Xanax and a gallon of communion wine. (My mother also loved Magnum, which is for analysis another time)

I apologize for this weird screed, but the tale needed to be told, and the miniature freak-out I suffered through this morning upon being reminded of this dreck needed to be expelled. And what better place to do it than TMS?

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