Tuesday, December 21, 2010

From Coleridge to Pop Culture

Lyrics: Xandu by Rush

"To seek the sacred river Alph
To walk the caves of ice
To break my fast on honey dew
And drink the milk of Paradise...."

I had heard the whispered tales
Of immortality
The deepest mystery
From an ancient book. I took a clue
I scaled the frozen mountain tops
Of eastern lands unknown
Time and Man alone
Searching for the lost ---- Xanadu

Xanadu ---- To stand within The Pleasure Dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan
To taste anew the fruits of life
The last immortal man
To find the sacred river Alph
To walk the caves of ice
Oh, I will dine on honey dew
And drink the milk of Paradise

A thousand years have come and gone
But time has passed me by
Stars stopped in the sky
Frozen in an everlasting view
Waiting for the world to end
Weary of the night
Praying for the light
Prison of the lost ---- Xanadu

Xanadu ---- Held within The Pleasure Dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan
To taste my bitter triumph
As a mad immortal man
Nevermore shall I return
Escape these caves of ice
For I have dined on honey dew
And drunk the milk of Paradise

Rush is a Canadian rock band formed in August 1968. The band composed of 3 members. Geddy Lee: lead vocals, synthesizers, and bass. Alex Lifeson: guitars, bass pedals, and back up vocals. John Rutsey: drums and percussion. Rush sold record breaking albums placing them behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Rush has become known for the instrumental expertise of its members, complex compositions, and diverse lyrical motifs portray heavily on science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy, as well as addressing humanitarian, social, emotional, and environmental concerns.
Xandu by Rush was written by Neil Peart who is one of the three band members. Although he wasn’t on opium like Coleridge he might have smoked a little hash. The song idea was originally inspired by the movie Citizen Kane.
At the beginning of the movie, the opening lines from 'Kubla Khan' were quoted, 'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree.' Neil became fascinated on that phrase and decided to further research on the poem Kubla Khan. He was so powerfully impressed by its imagery and emotional power that the poem took over the song. The poem Kubla Khan was the inspiration for Rush's Xanadu. Another line from 'Kubla Khan,' 'woman wailing for her demon-lover,' showed up almost twenty years later as 'Daughter of a demon-lover,' in their song 'Animate'. Neil portrayed Coleridge's idea of immortality as a grim curse. 
Xanadu is the fictional name of the land where Khubla Khan wanted the dome to be built. The word Xanadu means a paradise and it is an actually place in Asia. The city was located in what is now called Inner Mongolia. Xanadu or Shangdu was the summer capital of Kublai Khan's Mongol Empire.

Xanadu in popular culture:

  • Canadian rock band Rush has a song called "Xanadu" on the album A Farewell to Kings which incorporates lines of Coleridge's poem.
  • Italian metal band Stormlord has a song called "Xanadu" on the album At the Gates of Utopia which quotes the first segment of the poem.
  • Japanese visual kei band Moi dix Mois has a song called "Xanadu" on their fourth album, Dixanadu.
  • The song "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood is based on the Coleridge poem.
  • The 1980 musical film Xanadu is considered a cult film. It featured music by Electric Light Orchestra and John Farrar who wrote most of Olivia Newton-John's hits from the film. The film's title track, "Xanadu", was a major hit for the Australian pop singer Olivia Newton-John.

No comments:

Post a Comment