Friday, March 27, 2015

Ballroom Of Mars-A Poetic Analysis

Marc Bolan was a poetic genius, as well as the lead singer of the 70s English glam-rock band T. Rex. The band was formed by the genius himself in 1967. Bolan wrote most of the band’s material as well as provided most of the sweet guitar riffs and rhythms. The band is popularly known for the birth of hits such as: Get It On (Bang a Gong), Children of the Revolution, Metal Guru, and Telegram Sam.  Often “music snobs” claim that Marc Bolan’s lyrics were nonsensical gibberish fueled by fame and drugs, however they are dumb and that’s just not the case.

Bolan is widely known for his poetic and neo-romantic lyrics seen frequently on the first few albums of T. Rex.

 “Ballrooms Of Mars” appeared on T.Rex’s 3rd studio album, The Slider.

In this sweet sweet jam, I believe that Bolan is speaking to one he deeply loved that he is loosing or perhaps has already lost, reassuring him/her that when he/she is gone, all will be fine and they will stay together although they could never be farther apart. They will stay together, dancing in the ballrooms of mars. Certain lyrics obviously apply more literal to this idea than others.

You gonna look fine

Be primed for dancing

-You would have to know a little more of Marc Bolan’s work to point this out, however, “be primed for dancing” is an example of a motif shown through out Bolan’s pieces. He uses dance to symbolize the ability of freedom and carelessness. To be primed for dancing, is in other words to be stripped of judgement and be in a world of carefree expectance. (Marc Bolan has clearly always been “primed for dancing” and that’s clear in T.Rex’s first album Electric Warrior in the song “Cosmic Warrior”-  ”..I danced my self out of the womb”

You're gonna trip and glide

All on the trembling plane

Your diamond hands

Will be stacked with roses

Roses-being a metaphor for all things sweet.

 And wind and cars

And people of the past

Obviously referring to the people that he/she has lost that he/she will soon be reunited with.
I'll call you thing
Just when the moon sings
-moon sings-personification

And place your face in stone

Upon the hill of stars
-I like to believe that this is one of the slightly more obvious parts of his lyrics. Placing his/her face in stone would be referring to a gravestone, placed on the hill of stars, desolate, romantic, peaceful, poetic.

And gripped in the arms

Of the changeless madman

-This “changeless madman” that Bolan now refers to, is himself. He will be gripping his lost friend in his arms, as they “dance” their lives away.
We'll dance our lives away
-again with the dance metaphor. This is how Marc would like things to have been, the freedom between the two, however this type of carefree love might not have been attainable with out this person the Ballrooms of Mars.
In the Ballrooms of Mars
-Although “Ballrooms of Mars” are only referenced once specifically in this poem, It plays a constant role throughout the entirety of this piece. I think best understand it as a metaphor for this “place” that is equidistant between life here on earth and the heaven/hell from above/below. “Ballrooms of Mars” is a metaphor for the places that one on earth visits to connect with one they have lost. The Ballrooms of Mars are a common ground that both can go to and share lost time together.

 You talk about day

 I'm talking 'bout night time

-day and night are in place to draw attention to opposites.
                Black:White::Day:Night::Earth:The Afterlife

When the monsters call out

The names of men

Bob Dylan knows

And I bet Alan Freed did

-Dylan and Freed are given a cameo in this song, being two incredibly influential men in Bolan’s career, more Dylan than Freed-(but you can’t deny the importance of Alan Freed to any Rock&Roll musician). Dylan was referenced, I believe, in just pure admiration, Bob Dylan influenced Marc Bolan immensely, Bolan being a huge fan of his work. Bob Dylan understands the complexity of the certain things that Bolan speaks of, we can infer this through Dylan’s own lyrics. And being so heavily inspired and infatuated with one artist you hope/assume they understand your writing as well. “And I bet Alan Freed did” can be interpreted as sort of a “dig”. Towards the end of the American Disk Jockey’s life, he fell heavily into financial and publicity scandal as well as slipping down the road being an alcoholic.
        -I bet Alan Freed found out that “there are things in night that are better not to behold”

There are things in night

That are better not to behold

-Night meaning life on earth. There are things that, now that he/she is gone, it is better that he/she doesn’t have to deal with some of the negative things we have to deal with on earth. You will be better off, happier, in the afterlife-again Bolan is reassuring his lost love 

You dance
With your lizard leather boots on

    -alliteration:lizard leather boots on

And pull the strings

That change the faces of men
You diamond browed hag
You're a gutter-gaunt gangster

    -alliteration:glitter-gaunt gangster

John Lennon knows your name

And I've seen his

Then you get to the end of the song, and you’re like, woah wait, what happened to everything I just said this song was, this last part makes no sense.

Well, this last part the narrative shifts to third person. Bolan is now reflecting upon himself. Through this song Bolan has uncovered things about himself that he points out and discovers towards this last stanza. He was apart of the glam rock movement in England during the 70s. Bolan’s feminine fashion choices definitely turned heads. He was an influence and style icon to boys following the glam trend, “changing the faces of” stereotypical ordinary “men” of that time.
As far as the reference to John Lennon goes, this album came out in 1972, if I am correct this was around the same time Ringo and Bolan were hanging out working on a film I believe, and maybe some side music projects, however it was around this time that John Lennon and Bolan got to know each other better.

Lennon was later quoted saying, “"In today's pop music, there are only two things that interest me: rock 'n' roll and avant-garde poetry. Only one group today is of interest to me, Marc Bolan and T.Rex. He is the only one who has excited me and I look forward to meet him again. His music is good rock 'n' roll; it has good beat and it really swings. But it is mainly his lyrics that amaze me....Marc Bolan is the only one who can succeed to The Beatles."

Obviously as an artist that is a huge accomplishment. At the end of this song, Bolan reflects on his life so far. Is he content? Could he enter “Ballrooms of Mars” from the other side?”

.. he would probably laugh at all of this.

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