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Flaming Lips: An Ode to the Puppet King


wayne coyne

When Wayne Coyne sings he glows like a pregnant woman. He brims with so much love that it becomes a second, separate life within him - a life that ultimately belongs to us, to the world, as much as it does him. And whenever he says that word - love - and he says it often, he presses his hands against his chest as though if he did not his ribs would swing open like gates, and his soul would spill out beyond the stage and into the crowd and he would just dissolve right there in front of that giant gong he bangs and then there would be nothing left of him but light. He guards these gates, so that there is enough Wayne to go around for the next night.lips

This is important, see, because Wayne loves more than anything to sing. Even though he confesses that he's horrible at it (who knows if he's just being modest). But when you're Dylan or Cobain or Mangum or you're singing White Christmas through a megaphone into a room full of hand-puppets and bunny suits and balloon-covered floors while your guitarist stands on a chair and christens you - then the crowd - with toss after toss of confetti, it really doesn't matter what your voice is. As long as it's yours, it's beautiful.

Some of my best memories are the four Flaming Lips shows I've seen this year (three) and last year (one). I've never left one of them without being giddy, goofy and in love with every person and lamppost and dead leaf that crunches under my confetti-covered boots. Wayne's passion matches that of legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein. Filmstrips of Bernstein's mad, ecstatic flailing - interspersed with exploding buildings and bombs - open the show and are a nice backdrop to Wayne's frantic banging of that giant gong during "Race for the Prize." If you're lucky (or tenacious) enough to snag a front spot at a Lips show, turn around during "What Is the Light" or "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" to see the affect Wayne (and his frog hand-puppet) has on the Lips-lovin' folks behind you, all of them swarming and silly and smiling like drunk hippies hit in the future head with a comet-sized pillow of Zen.

I have nothing else to say really so "may your days be merry and bright" and may your nights be filled with magic hand-puppets.