Sold My Soul for Rock 'n Roll

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I was asked to write an essay about “sex, Rock 'n Roll and art” for the exhibition catalog of Sextablos: Works on Metal and I had a ball with it. If you are easily offended by strong language you might want to skip this one. If not, read it out loud at the top of your lungs... Preach it. It sounds really great that way! Click on the extended entry link for the full text.

Way down deep in the juicy delta, the steaming crotch of America's sultry, painted self, the phrase “Rock n' Roll” crawled up out of blood and mud and sweat maybe thirty years before the music ever let wail. And straight from the jump Rock n' Roll meant doin' it­ makin' it, shakin' it, stirring things up. What was born as a popular idiom for fucking soon latched on to a blazing new sound and became a powerful, elemental force of nature. And that force got in people, made 'em move, made 'em do things, spawned revolutions from gyrating hips and a pulsing, throbbing beat. Rock was the heart of the sexual revolution that tore away America's inhibitions as fast as busting a hymen in the back seat of daddy's car. Without even taking the jeans off.

Rock n' Roll is a hot thing and loud. A primeval beast with an eight-cylinder engine, revving high, raring to go. Fast, furious, out of control and above all, loving every minute of it. Like the ancient gods of sex and death, Rock strikes it's surest stance standing at the sacrificial precipice, ready to throw it all away for the long shot of just scratching that little itch.

Rock cuts deep, to the roots, to the bones, to a beat so old only the body remembers it. Oh, but the body remembers it perfectly. Rock n' Roll is a religious experience, but we're talking Old Time Religion, an experience in the body, of the body and of the other's body. Blood and soul. Communion. A commitment, not to lover, god or country, but to living forever. Right now. Going all the way.

Rock n' Roll throws sparks stolen right out of gospel's divine flame and carried off in the juke joints' Bar-B-Que. To the preacher, these stolen coals look like hellfire and brimstone, eternal damnation, but when the sparks hit the crowd it's the same power. The common denominator of human nature is the desire to transcend human nature. Sex , Rock and religion all generate the kind of raw power needed to leap that high or sink that low. Look and you can see it—watch 'em jump and twist like a tent revival caught on the electric barb of God's hook.

This upstart, bastard child of spirituals and the Devil's music, this juvenile delinquent, can be counted on but never trusted. Ever restless, despite a visceral and diverse heritage, Rock n' Roll casually, brazenly, boosts any new style, riff, instrument or toy it can get it's hands on, stuffing the pockets of it's leather jacket. This very innovation is the source of Rock's immortality, it's legendary attitude of invincibility: whenever you think rock is dead, jump back! It's just gearing up for a new incarnation.

Art was born in a cave. Rock n' Roll was born in a space not much more refined and it's soul has lived in basements and garages ever since. Christ was born in a manger, which explains, maybe, why He's a little more civilized. Sextablos throws these three into bed and the possibilities are limitless.

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John T. Unger poet

I'm best known as an artist and designer. Relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.

Before becoming a visual artist, I spent 15 years as a poet. I studied poetry at Interlochen Arts Academy, Naropa, Stone Circle and on the streets. I performed my work for years at Stone Circle, solo shows, poetry readings, and at Lollapalooza in 1996.

I still write poems, but only if I can make them fit the constraints ofTwitter.

Mobile: 231.584.2710 (9 to 5 PST only) | Email me

Art IS my day job

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