Recommended if you like: philosophy, pop music, and art
Recommended tracks: “See Through Rocks,” “Andromeda,” and “Huang Shan (The Ah-ha Song)”
By the time I develop a true opinion of a song or album, it’s inevitably past the time when it’s relevant. Perhaps I’m just slow. I remember how incredibly depressed I was when I found out John Lennon was shot and killed. I was fourteen years old at the time, and the year was, in fact, 1998. So you, my dear reader, should consider yourself lucky that I’m getting around to reviewing Cary Judd’s Goodnight Human album, released late in 2009.
However, I still think the album is relevant. And for what it’s worth, it’s probably one of the best things to happen to me since I started Linescratchers. How’s that for an endorsement?
My sister recommended Cary Judd to me, having seen him in Rexburg, and, from her description, I was resistant. I have high standards for pop music. There are only so many pure artists in the pop world (The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Dissociatives, Kevin Gilbert, for starters) and so it takes chutzpah for any pop artist to assume they have anything to say that hasn’t already been said. This was my attitude when I approached Goodnight Human, and as soon as I heard the first track, “Andromeda,” all my concerns completely melted away. Cary Judd’s simple, soul-searching theology touched me in ways even The Beatles couldn’t, and that’s because Cary Judd approaches our neighbor galaxy from a Mormon perspective.
I could definitely tell that Cary had big things on his mind, and in this way, I found in him a kindred spirit. I immediately wrote him and was able to persuade him to do an interview, which was published last year, and I also took the time to send him a paper on the beginning of the Universe and the physics of light written by physicist/mystic Bernard Haisch. He told me he liked it, and I figured he would.
It’s the deep water of philosophy, meaning, theology, and love that Cary Judd is wont to swim in, and each track displays a bombastic philosophical daring that inspired me to believe that a Mormon renaissance is still possible. “The Apocalyptic Love Song” violently tears down our conventions and focuses us on what’s important: our love for one another. “Huang Shan (The Ah-ha Song)” is catchy to the extent that it almost makes you feel guilty. “Sarah” explores the love for a person who just simply can’t figure out how to love herself. But the song that really hit me hard (and the current chart-topper in my iTunes playlist) is “See Through Rocks.” It is an epic, courageous song that points a microscope at the very core of our faith:
“And I want you to come down here
I don’t want another
‘Cause we’ll all disbelieve them
And probably defeat them
And then of course we’ll kill them
I saw God shaking His head
At the foolish things we said.”
These are the words of a man who has struggled with his place in the Universe, who has not sit idly by for meaning to find him. Goodnight Human is a delightfully heady romp through the musical equivalent of a philosophical campfire conversation at 3 a.m. with your buddies. You might wake up the next morning wondering what the heck you were talking about the night before, but even after the lyrics lose their punch (they haven’t yet for me), the music is so carefully and beautifully crafted that you just might get a second wind afterward.
The only weakness of the album is the way that meaning sometimes gives way to the sugary melodies, but I will readily admit to you that in pop you can really only go so deep before you start writing Queensryche lyrics. Cary Judd certainly pushes the envelope past what I thought was possible. That is not to say there aren’t tracks on the album that won’t get played much, but this is because the good tracks will occupy most of your mind and time if you let them.
Those who know me well know that, when I give my opinion on music, Cs don’t grow on trees, and a B is a significant accomplishment. Yet, I unhesitatingly give this album:
Goodnight Human: A- (91/100)
I really, really recommend that you buy it.