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Youth in Revolt

by Tomas Jonsson - 0 Comment(s)

Arcade Fire with Mick Jagger

During their recent set on Saturday Night Live, performing with Mick Jagger, The Canadian band Arcade Fire pointedly and politically wore red squares in solidarity with the student protests in Quebec.

Now over 100 days, the protests in Quebec are an example of a global overflowing spirit of rebellion and dissatisfaction with authority, particularly by youth, an emotional wellspring that Arcade Fire has tapped into throughout their various projects.

As much as I love Karen O and the Children's contributions to the Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack, to me the defining song of this movie – or rather it's trailer – is still "Wake Up". The song, from Arcade Fire’s breakthrough album Funeral is a pitch perfect complement to Director Spike Jonze’s psychoanalytic take on Maurice Sendak’s classic story. While they weren't included in the soundtrack to his movie, Jones later worked with lead singer Win Butler and his brother Will in creating a 28 minute short film, Scenes from the Suburbs, another dystopian vision of growing up in a future full of alienation and lurking violence, inspired by Arcade Fire's album the Suburbs.

Scenes from the Suburbs - Spike Jonze

Named after John Kennedy Toole’s first novel (written when he was 16), Neon Bible is a darkly melancholic concept album, with many allusions to the recent flooding of New Orleans, the city where Toole grew up, and where he set his follow up novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, whose protagonist wages a Quixotic revolt against the entire 20th Century. Recently, Arcade Fire contributed two songs to the Hunger Games film soundtrack. "Horn of Plenty", which plays several times in the movie as an anthem for the fascist District of Panem. Conversely, their second song, "Abraham's daughter" is a subversive reinterpretation of the biblical story, weaving in a very Katniss-like character that up-ends the overly patriarchal tone of the original story:

Abraham took Isaac's hand
And led him to the lonesome hill
While his daughter hid and watched
She dare not breathe; she was so still

Just as an angel cried for the slaughter
Abraham’s daughter raised her voice

Then the angel asked her what her name was
She said, "I have none."
Then he asked, "How can this be?"
"My father never gave me one."

And when he saw her raised for the slaughter
Abraham’s daughter raised her bow
"How darest you, child, defy your father?"
"You better let young Isaac go."

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