I'm surprised that I've never told this story in the Empoprise-MU blog before, since it's certainly been top of mind for years.
Several years ago, Devo released a video compilation entitled "The Complete Truth About De-Evolution," covering the period from the band's origins to the Smooth Noodle Maps album. In addition to historical material, the collection includes official Devo videos that were released during the period. Obviously "Whip It" (the band's one massive hit) is included, along with other Devo-authored originals, but the collection also includes Devo covers of songs by others. Some of these covers offer notable differences from the originally recorded versions; Devo's cover of the Rolling Stones song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," for example, brought the band a lot of attention. The collection also includes two other Devo covers: "Worried Man," and "Are You Experienced?"
Well, if you have the original Laserdisc version of the collection, you have all three cover songs.
If you, like I, have the DVD version, one of those songs is missing.
The Rhino Records DVD ... received much criticism from fans of the band ... because of the ... omission of the video for "Are U Experienced?." A comment on the back cover of the DVD addresses this: "DEVO regrets that 'Are U Experienced?' is not included in the program. The current executors of the Jimi Hendrix estate were determined to prove to us the old adage - 'To seek permission is to seek denial'."
However, if you want to see the excluded video, you can go to YouTube.
If you watch the video, you will see some black 80s hip-hop kids who run into a mysterious artifact from the past - a peace sign. The scene transitions to a lab, where four of the members of Devo look respectably scientific. Mark Mothersbaugh, however, wearing the peace sign with a Sonny Bono haircut, goes through strange bodily transformations. The Jimi Hendrix estate presumably took notice when a black hippie, looking like you-know-who, emerged from a coffin and played a guitar solo for some really groovy chicks and dudes.
Or perhaps the estate noticed the line that Mothersbaugh added to the song - something that clearly wasn't in the original:
Not necessarily beautiful, but mutated!
In summary, a perfect Devo-esque sendup of the generation of peace and love - and if you know Devo's creative origins, you'll understand why Devo has this attitude. Gerald Casale was at his school, Kent State University, one day:
As I ran from them I wheeled around in the direction of hideous, mass screaming to see Allison Krause laying on the ground, a huge pool of blood spreading out around her, coagulating in the bright heat of the sun. My mind snaps.
Devo wasn't the only one to turn on peace and love - the National Lampoon crowd did with "Lemmings" also. But Kent State ensured that the 1960s peace and love message wouldn't resonate with Devo's inner consciousness.
Unfortunately, Devo's video take on the Hendrix song apparently didn't resonate with the inner consciousness of Hendrix estate.
Because of this, some Devo fans - well, at least one of them - have been watching the Hendrix estate like a hawk. If the executors object to jokes about the man, exactly what DO they endorse?
While we're waiting on that, another 1960s cultural icon who died early has his own estate managing his family's affairs, and they have come up with an interesting endorsement.
Reggae legend Bob Marley’s name is being used to market an international cannabis brand after a tie-up between the singer’s family and US private equity group Privateer Holdings.
The product will be sold as “Marley Natural” in a deal which Privateer claims will “honour the life and legacy” of the Jamaican behind hits including I Shot the Sheriff and No Woman, No Cry. It will also tap into the Jamaican's “belief in the benefits of cannabis”.
The products are due to come on to the market in 2015 in areas where cannabis use has been legalised.
The messages that I have read from the private equity group concentrate on the healing powers of the herb, but don't delve into the religious significance that the herb held for Marley.
No, Marley didn't just smoke weed because it felt good. Marley was a practicing Rastafarian:
Ganja is considered the "wisdom weed" by Rastafarians, as its use helps one to gain wisdom. Rastafarians use it as a part of a religious rite and as a means of getting closer to their inner spiritual self, Jah (God) and Creation.
Ganja is also seen by Rastafarians as the herb of life mentioned in the Bible. Rastafarians use of ganja is justified by the following Psalms 104:14 that says, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle and herb for the service of man, that he may bring forth food out of the earth." Rastafarians also say it was found growing at the grave of King Solomon in the Bible.
Recent political initiatives in the United States have provided an environment in which a private equity firm can actually sell marijuana - something unthinkable a mere few years ago. And the Rastafarian religion is connected to this particular marketing effort.
However, there have been other political initiatives in the United States that have gained even more traction - namely, gay marriage. And the Marley estate would be hard-pressed to cash in on that.
If you are Rasta you would not be homosexual, yet if you were homosexual you might 'claim' to be a Rasta
But what of the Hendrix estate? While Jimi was known to partake of a substance or two, the official Hendrix estate merchandising arm isn't selling Purple Haze potions yet. It has stuck to album reissues, calendars, books, and the like.
At least for now.
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