After listening to some recent segments of On the Media, one of my Convergent Media students has recently decided to do her semester research on the commodification of nihilism in media advertising. She's currently poring over my copy of Tom Frank's Conquest of Cool, beginning content analysis of various advertisements, and generally dealing with that college-age rush of discovering a philosophical system based on rejecting everything that's come before it, and the ensuing Ecclesiastical shock of finding that said philosophical system has long been defeated simply by putting a price tag on it.

This led me back to the Fugs, perhaps the most cynical "band" to come out of the Sixties folk revival. This song, from their appropriately titled First Album, is either a Buddhist chant or a nihilist tract set to music (or both), with shout-outs to folk musicology, Marxists (and Marx!), Times Square, Church, sex, etc, all punctuated with an emphatic "Nothing, nothing, nothing." On the album they revel in both channeling and lambasting Allen Ginsberg, put William Blake poems to music, and have a song titled "In the Middle of the Recording Session The Fugs Sign the Worst Recording Contract Since Leadbelly's." Inside Llewyn Davis could be a movie adaptation of this song.

Ironically, I find the sarcastic drone of the song soothing, especially on a longer run. The Nothing's reach a certain crescendo toward the end that is really something.

AuthorJohn Proctor