Remember the book (and cheapo movie) Chariots of the Gods? Most of what little I know about religion comes through The Ten Commandments (the movie), The Last Temptation of Christ (ditto), and the paperback edition of Chariot of the Gods, the last of which blew my mind when I read it as a kid. The book speculated that stories from the Bible and other early texts were actually ancient civilizations’ attempts to explain visitations by…aliens! The thought of this happening (and you know it did) still boggles the mind.
Yesterday I stumbled across a photograph that blew my mind in a similar fashion. I forget how I even stumbled across it, but…well, why don’t I let you see it for yourself, with no further preamble:
It’s a photograph of Leonard Cohen from a 1972 concert. That’s Bob Johnston wearing the beard, the “hair hoodie,” and the maroon sweater. That’s Bob Johnston lifting his guitar up in conjunction with the corners of his lips and the whiskers surrounding them, eyes focused on his super-focused, super-hip leader. That’s the same Bob Johnston who produced not only some of Cohen’s records but records by Bob Dylan and—I know, there’s no way this will compare—Simon & Garfunkel. I don’t know who the third person is in this photo, but he also looks extremely supportive of his hipster bandleader, with his eyes also focused on the Alpha Cat as he strums along merrily.
I say, this is more than a beautifully framed and lit photograph of 3 folk-rock musicians in action. This is the future. Past civilizations explained it the best they could, but they couldn’t understand what hit them. This is Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot of fire, which we not know was really a spaceship from the future. This photograph predicts the comfort and joy that future generations would receive through Indie Rock. For all the good vibes and unity and intimacy captured in photographs from George Harrison‘s the Concert for Bangladesh, for instance, there’s always that slight sense of unease that comes from the burden to rock. You’ll get none of that in this photograph from the future.
Are there other signs of Chariots of the Rock Gods, say cave paintings anticipating the arrival of Elvis Presley or a preserved shroud that that reveals the face of Morrissey? I look forward to learning more about these Chariots of the Rock Gods.
Hail Elvis of Rome
It is not widely documented, but archeologists in the 60’s discovered that one of the monolithic and enigmatic Easter Island heads was placed in Surrey, England. It apparently went unnoticed for a long time, behind a wall.
Mod, I will have to think about this one but I love the concept. Of course I read Chariots of the Gods! To this day I can’t watch a PBS documentary on ancient Egypt without shaking my head and saying, “It was the aliens, man, it was the aliens!”
You’re right, it is a great photo. Bob Johnston produced a lot of other interesting stuff, too–including several of LC’s best records, JC Live at San Quentin, etc. The other guy is identified in caption to the photo, dude! Just follow your own link. It’s Ron Cornelius. Well-known session man, longtime member of LC’s band, made a record called Tin Luck that I’ve never heard but which has a certain following.
Here’s all you need to know about Ron Cornelius: http://galacticramble.blogspot.com/2011/01/ron-cornelius-bob-dylan-leonard-cohen.html
I thought I should have paid more attention to the caption at the site of origin! Damn.