Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Redeeming Transmissions

Don't know how many PPIF congregants are familiar with the prophetic witness of Bill Hicks. Radiohead dedicated THE BENDS to his memory (I think I mention as much in Everyday Apocalypse). One of his quotes opens the final chapter of GATA. It's from his album, Rant in E-Minor: "Lift me up out of this illusion, Lord. Heal my perception, so that I may know only reality." Anyway, I find him crucial. Here's David Letterman repentantly relating a sad account of Hick's appearance on his show and undertaking an inspiringly awkward and deeply redemptive conversation with Bill's mother. You'll have to follow Youtube's directions to parts 2 and 3. I have the ever-loving, always-inspiring attentiveness of one Joe Nolan to thank for the heads-up concerning this excellent smidgin of television.

18 comments:

dommerselv said...

Thanks for this David. I've somehow managed to never hear of Bill Hicks (and I've read Everyday Apocalypse!), even though I am a big fan of David Cross, whom he seems to have influenced pretty heavily. I've never really explored comedians very much, maybe because of the present state with popular comedians such as Dane Cook.

Anyways, I watched the interview, and found it, as you say, awkward and inspiring, and then went to iTunes and downloaded Rant in E-Minor. I'm halfway through it, and it's uproarious and defying.

Just wanted to say thanks. My stomach hurts and I had to pause the album to write this note.

Mark said...

Suddenly David Letterman has another dimension in my view (probably because I never really "got" his comedy). Good for him. and them. and me. I wonder if the Foo Fighters outro was inspired by this segment.

Hope all are well.

Thomas McKenzie said...

Thanks for turning us on to this. It was great, and wonderful to see Dave take that much time.

Anonymous said...

What is this NONSENSE about 'prophetic witness'
Do you think there is ANY 'prophetic witness' apart from the Word of God?
You can't just glean from everywhere and hope for the best, you need something, like the Word of God, that is quite certain, tangible, full proof and black and white.

David Bazan said...

i think you mean...um..FOOL proof.
carry on.

Anonymous said...

The FOOL said in his heart, "there is no God"

jdaviddark said...

thanks for the feedback, dommerselv. i'm very pleased to have facilitated the introduction.
mark, those extra dimensions do creep up on us, don't they? i think the foo fighter outro was indeed deliberate. whenever i pay attention to the schaeffer selection, there' usually something there.
glad to see you out there, thomas. makes me smile.
anonymous, i believe we've covered this territory before. i suspect my understanding of the prophetic extends a little wider than what you have in mind. i hope my take on it isn't an unhelpful source for stumbling along your pilgrimage. i find this word from Cornel West especially helpful: “To be a part of a prophetic tradition is not to be a prophet or elitist. Rather, it is humbly to direct your strongest criticisms at yourself and then self-critically speak your mind to others with painful candor and genuine compassion.” As ever, if you're upset with me, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.
D. Bazan, if pressed to name someone who, it seems to me, is doing a Bill Hicks-like thing, I suspect your name would come first to mind. keep on rocking in the what we call the free world.
happy sunday ev'ybody

Derek said...

Thanks for posting this David. I remember seeing a (UK) Channel 4 documentary/Bill Hicks concert around the time that he died; then and now, I think, the overwhelming impression is that this is someone who is speaking the truth - with all the relief, discomfort and challenge that it contains. God bless.

jdaviddark said...

Good to hear from you, Derek. This was also MY overwhelming impression when I too caught him on Channel 4 (if memory serves) on a cold night in Northern Ireland in the nineties. Now I'm beginning to wonder if catching his name in the linernotes to The Bends helped endear me to that wonderful band early on. "Relief, discomfort, and challenge." I think I'm going to hold on to this for awhile.

Variations On A Theme said...

Hey. I watched all three YouTube "thingies," and while I was immensely impressed with Letterman (wow! to humble yourself and be so gracious), I wasn't impressed with Bill Hicks. I can see why Letterman might not have wanted to show the segment. I have a habit of not "getting it," which I've finally learned to accept in myself. :)

By the way, I'm going back to graduate school this summer! Whoo hoo!!

capnwatsisname said...

Thanks, I hadn't seen this. It's amazing how relevant Hicks material has been in the last 8 years. His take on pop music is also brutally full of painful candor. Letterman has impressed me over the years. His show after his heart surgery, thanking his docs, was remarkable, but this is a top moment as far as I'm concerned. Now maybe he and Crispin Glover's mom can reconcile.

dommerselv said...

You can call me Dave, David. I'm not quite sure how to link to my blog and display my real name at the same time. I've been a lurker for some time now. I bought you book Everyday Apocalypse a few years ago at the Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh and stumbled upon the blog sometime later.

That Cornel West quote is quite good; in fact, I've printed it out and placed it on the desk in front of me as a constant reminder. In some way, it focused together a lot of the critiques I have been reading more into over the past several months. West's words remind me of Merold Westphal's take on the "masters of suspicion" in his book Suspicion and Faith, and also reflect some of what Kierkegaard gets at in For Self-Examination.

Another Anonymous said...

ANON said: "Do you think there is ANY 'prophetic witness' apart from the Word of God?
You can't just glean from everywhere and hope for the best, you need something, like the Word of God, that is quite certain, tangible, full proof and black and white"

The Word of God says: "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure"

jdaviddark said...

Capn', thanks for bringing Crispin GLover back into my mind on a Friday (a Friday THE THIRTEENTH at that).Feels so right.
Variations, if you feel so inclined a wikipedia entry and a li'l youtube migt give you a better indication of what the Bill Hicks fuss is all about. SO glad to hear bout the graduate school thing. I think we're similarly wired and I believe you'll love it.
Dave, I feel the same way and thanks for giving me a some how-you-found-me context. Always encouraging.
Another Anon, I don't think I have a lot to add to my response to earlier Anon except to say that whatever discernment I hope I have isn't separate from my understanding of (and aspiring faithfulness to) the biblical witness. Hicks (and SO MANY other people/voices) smells like Bible to me. That said, when I myself intone or hear the phrase "Word of God" I don't think exclusively of biblical canons. One example I have in mind is the first chapter of John's gospel.

Another Anonymous said...

David -
that bit from Titus reminds me of people like you who look for truth "in all the wrong places". strikes me as a sign of purity rather than heresy - "to the pure, all things are pure" - and when someone says the only place to find any truth or prophetic witness is in the Bible/Word of God, THAT strikes me as an unbiblical understanding (or at least according to Romans, a "weaker" understanding). A sort of "cult of the cannon". I agree with your understanding of "Word of God".

Joe Nolan said...

Hey lovely,

Thanks for the face time tonight. Don't lose that Rock Card! I am about to turn in right after I get done pouring over this map of southern France....

mediamogul said...

Hi David

Saw this link on the WDET website paying tribute to Bill Hicks. I picked up one of his CD's recently on your recommendation. I laughed so much, probably somethings I shouldn't have laughed at.

Hope you and Sarah are well.

Bill
http://www.wdetfm.org/article/bill-hicks

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