Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Onward, Christian Puppets

Sometimes I regret having grown up in a reasonably progressive Unitarian/Jewish home. As I result I missed the Little Marcy experience. While we were learning all that social justice and peace nonsense, those evangelical kids were getting to enjoy the bizarre world of Little Marcy with her deceptively simple but by no means simplistic tunes. I'm sure had I known her as a tot I would have had a more interesting albeit deeply disturbed childhood.

Rarely more than a minute long, each one is a little gem. They are typically filled with images of running from devils and unquestioning servitude to her Lord. She may have been just a tiny tot, but she often had to face off Satan in a bitter battle to save her soul in many a song. And all in just 58 seconds! As the Iraq War has now gone longer than World War II, her chilling "I'm in the Lord's Army" has a chilling relevance as we see the daily toll of 18-year-olds sacrificed by compassionate conservatives.

The recordings of Little Marcy, seen through a contemporary lens are more than camp. They are deeply disturbing and impossible to pull away from. No wonder that 20-somethings, born a decade or more after her prime have a shrine to her at MySpace.

Like a good Bergman flick, Marcy defies explanation. But her legend lives on. That's not to say her songs can't be a tad campy. I mean, what else can you do with "I Love Little Pussy," especially as covered by Lovely Little Girls.

But nothing beats seeing this video of Little Marcy singing "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" in the flesh (er, I mean in the wood). What is Marcy really trying to tell us? She holds that smile for just a little too long for us to believe what she appears to be telling us. I think the subtle syntax is a coded message. I'd understand her singing "Jesus Wants Me to be a Sunbeam," but alas he wants her for a Sunbeam. And to accomplish what? And what sort of Sunbeam? A kitchen appliance or one of those cute little red cars that Maxwell Smart drove back in the 1960s. And watch the video closely and notice how the moves her right arm. What is that all about? What is she not telling us as she beams away?

Ah, as always, like a tightly woven haiku, each Little Marcy tune weaves a mysterious path raising more questions than offering answers.

And why does Little Marcy never break that smile. Coded message, clearly. I think we will never know until Big Marcy dies and at last Little Marcy can finally break her vow of silence. Now that is one Oprah episode I don't plan to miss!

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