West Hollywood Jesus died last week, but fear not, friends. In lieu of our Sunset Saviour, I’ve made a discovery that will either save, or destroy us all.
There’s a song that used to play on the radio all the time last year, it was Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Whenever it came on, the radio became just that much more tolerable for the three and a half minutes of benign folksy fun. Before long, I had decided that I liked Edward Sharpe, I’m on board.
Another thing that I’ve liked, for years now, is NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. While perusing through their selection on YouTube one night, I was delighted to see these two things that I enjoy come together. But now, after watching one video and doing very little research, I can confidently say that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are a cult.
I was sitting on the couch in my living room in Edmonton with my wife, when we came to the realization that there was something else to this band.
Thanks, NPR, always exposing the truest side of humanity, that’s what I appreciate about you.
As is echoed in the YouTube comments, it is a fact that any band with ten members is not in it for the money. I bet that’s why the look the way they do—the vintage hippie folk singer is an economical business plan. Though, I bet this messianic mother fucker would love to shoe horn in three more instruments and wander the globe with his twelve apostles for the rest of eternity. That is, until little Ms. Makin-Funna-Me goes full-Judas on him.
I mean, look at how doughy his eyes are.
I know a few other people with eyes like this, and it’s impossible not to bare your soul when you make eye contact; they just have that effect on you. Our Supreme Leader here looks like he has that factor to him, but also, maybe he’s a secret snake oil salesman—I’ve met that type before. They too have the doughy eyes that suck you in, but if they’re not trying to sell something in the same breath they scare you and make you feel safe, you can bet your ass that they’re fixing to poison the watering hole before leaving town. For our Supreme Leader here, I can only assume that involves pregnancies. Oh, so many pregnancies.
Between the first and second songs, there’s a lot of “large-band” ramble that’s bound to happen between numbers in an environment like this, but watch how Supreme Leader interacts with the lead female vocalist of his troupe, I believe her name is Jade. They make some intense eye contact for a bit and whisper to each other, while the rest of the band start the whistling. I’ll hand it to them that, as a musical outfit, they work. They seem to have their ten-member chemistry down to something of a Slipknot consistency, and seem to play off each other very well. I bet the commune is very efficient and they grow all Supreme Leader's favorite types of kale.
As they get into the song, and I can see them play the thing that tickled my ears for months on end, I start to have this little nag at the end of my coattails. Some little pull that leans me over and says, “they’re making fun of you.”
There’s something about faux accents in a song about “quaint” things from an LA perspective, that sits funny with me. Maybe it’s because I’m from the heartland of Canadian country music and have been exposed to truly authentic songs about this very thing my entire life. I thought about that, but then, I got really listening to the lyrics. The lyrics that had changed since I had last heard it on the radio.
In the studio, the lyrics in the chorus are as follows:
Oh, home, let me come home
Home is whenever I'm with you
Oh, home, let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you
At this Tiny Desk Concert—a place to reach hipsters such as myself, people who hold on the 1970’s mentality of opening our minds and experiencing it all—in this version, the chorus is as such:
Oh, home, oh yes, we are home
Home is wherever there is you
Oh, home, yes, we are home
Home, you are me and I am you.
And it doesn’t stop there. There’s small changes to the lyrics all over the place, taking the song from two lovers speaking to each other, to two people confessing their involvement in something bigger than themselves; this fictional “Edward Sharpe,” our Supreme Leader.
They seem kosher, though. Kind of like a Heaven’s Gate type cult, hopefully without the same type of ending. Just harmless, a bit catchy, even. They’ve abandoned their families to serve Supreme Leader; they’ll play their djembe’s and cajóns, strum their guitars, till the soil and raise the barn until the smile fades—because he has asked them to.
All praise be unto Supreme Leader. We are all Supreme Leader, for he is us and we are he and me are too; coo coo ca choo etc, etc.
As many questions one can have about this group, this video and this trajectory, one thing is absolutely certain after watching this video: that office stank after those folks left.
Writer, performer, producer and musician from Alberta.