i was busy compiling a flaming lips playlist for b when i suddenly remembered an old cd i loved very much. back in the 90s, i used to buy this uk magazine called select, which of course kept me updated on whether blur or oasis was winning the war, and what jarvis cocker really felt about michael jackson (ok, that was really nme and melody maker – select was usually better). the issues i looked forward to most were those packed with complimentary albums and my favorite was the xfm live sessions cd, one of the last few compilations bundled a year before the magazine’s inevitable demise along with britpop’s in the year 2000 (when we’re all fully grown).
and how sneaky of them to squeeze in a couple of american bands: guided by voices, sebadoh, and of course the flaming lips, whose contribution was “waiting for a superman”, the heart wrenching ballad from their then-newly released album the soft bulletin. their most memorable songs of this era often thrived on grand narratives of human battle (“fight test”) and progress (“race for the prize”), which fit best with the triumphant experience their live shows clearly aimed at creating. all this, however, would have been too sweeping, too overwhelming without the empathetic “waitin’ for a superman”, a song that strips away all pretense to wrestle sincerely with both hope and despair.
on the xfm live sessions version, the lips strip down the song even further by doing away with the distracting drums and leaving behind with greatest clarity the bare piano keys and every breath wayne coyne takes before he delivers each line. we’ve all been there before and we know he has too, and it’s the comforting knowledge of one more person knowing exactly how you feel that makes it that little bit easier to “hold on, the best you can“. – dan.
the flaming lips play in singapore for the first time at marina bay sands, together with the raveonettes. tickets go on sale 7 october on sistic. don’t miss it!