Friday, April 27, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane

It came out a year before I was born, more or less (at least per the published calendar years — Julian? Gregorgian?) … Anno Domini, anyway. Fact is, I and this musical were produced, so to speak, a year apart, 365 days being as precise as certain systems get. This means it was conceived before I was, before I existed on the planet as a human (the one I am now) — even by Arizona standards

To me, and perhaps me only, it is interesting that I glommed on so to the Webber/Rice rendition of the Christian historic founder of the branch-Hebrew monotheism. Yeshua / Jesus (not Paul, who could be said to be the true founder — talk later on that) was attractive to me due to the presentation of JC as, well, "JC" — a hip, indeed, bonifide hippie, lovely and misunderstood hero.

I know the Bible, and I know some church history, and much of this musical is fiction.

But the dramatic storytelling is compelling, and certain things ring true to the post-Vatican II scholar (I am not a scholar, just someone who attended Catholic school for 13 years — with lots of interactive questioning, etc.).

Since I was born in 1974 or perhaps for some other reason, I did not ever like how Judas, the "betrayer," was cast as the only prominent black man in Jesus Christ Superstar or how he and Simon (zealots) put on these huge-toothed silly looks all the time. That seemed so transparently then-obvious. Still, even as the young person whose teachers in approx. sixth grade showed us the JCS VHS, I identified with the play-framed desert-party.

I got it. It meant something to me. I like hippies?

My mother and I stand at far-long poles of the seeming monorail of political belief, yet it was her four-album collection (eight sides), complete with a half-jacket-sized lyrics booklet that I took up so passionately. She had multiple Elton John records, the Who's Tommy, Neil Diamond — freaking Iron Butterfly, I say — and later, even The Lipps's Mouth to Mouth, featuring Funky Town, which she, I and my younger brother danced to regularly in the living room. Gold carpet. Red "Spanish" effect couch.

People are complex, thank goodness.

There is no way to count the hours I spent as an adolescent sitting on the old fake leather couch in our unfinished basement listening to the JCS LP's on my youngest uncle's rejected stereo, "old," even for-then. It had the works, by the way: an unfailing phonograph, OMG 8-track player, a cassette deck (deck!), and AM/FM radio. The radio even worked in the basement, so you know it was the olden days. The foam-covered speakers had been shredded down to black cloth already by my first and best and worst-lost cat, but it was still a delightful tool. My uncle is now a year or two 'round 50. I don't need to know which direction : )

There was one Lent season during which I think I listened to JCS every evening or at least every Sunday. And I cried every time.

Puberty was involved, then, but the play/movie/show/album still tend(s) to make me cry.

It could have been Cats or  Phantom of the Opera, but it wasn't.

The four (still four) CD set from the British '90s revival of JCS is in my collection. Not uploaded to iTunes library … but the other night, I indulged in the spontaneous super-shopping that Amazon affords and counts on, and I got, for $9.99, unlimited access to JCS, the movie (Internet connection required; ah, the cloud).

Have been dancing every evening ever since.

As a final note: no, of course — it is not lost on me that "Christ" was not added to his name until many, many years later, post-Paul / Greek era —I went to Catholic school, remember? And, as such, I also learned the literary rouse of "suspension of disbelief."


hearmysong said...

i love the dancing. :)

you should read Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend.

Applecart T. said...

edit: simon was also black in this film, along with some dancing diva-types and maybe a pharisee. but, simon's and judas's crazy "confused" giant teeth expressions are silly / outdated in their exaggeratedness.