Outspoken - The Current (1994)
This record popped up on my radar not long ago. I just felt like listening to it, I guess, but I cant really pinpoint what it was that dredged it up from my past. Maybe I heard something that reminded of it, maybe it was just because I was looking for something to listen to.. oh wait, no, i got it. Haha! I was going through a stack of loose cds that I needed to put back in the book. Yep, thats it, as mundane as it sounds, I was cleaning. I was cleaning my messy office area in my apartment and I came across a bunch of old cds that I dont listen to often (Nineironspitfire? jeez) and of course this one stuck out, begged to be listened to. It appeared brighter than the others, but it couldve just been the way I was holding it to the light, getting lost in its rainbow hues and seeing a world full of color and possibilities.
Regardless of its causes, the effect is what I care to reflect on at this moment. I cant say its been years since I last listened to The Current. In fact, its the one I will most likely go for as its recorded best, and has their three best songs on it plus better versions of two old songs. It also has the clearest and least cheesy lyrics. I mean, one thing I think can be leveled at Outspoken is the fact that Johns voice was never much of a hardcore voice, and that to boot, his lyrics were a little cheese. Of course, dont get me wrong, please dont, Outspoken was one of my favorite bands at the time, they meant well and had a good message, they still remain one of my most favorable hardcore bands, given the passing of time and all that I can now attribute to so much of my hardcore upbringing. But yeah, throw on A Light In The Dark and tell me it isnt a little cheese.
The Current, while still remaining hardcore in every way, and by that I mean lyrics that still fall on the obvious side of obvious, managed to at least have some really great basically phrased mantras for any progressively thinking hardcore kid. I guess thats the part that I want to talk about because I feel these lyrics still mean something.. To me at least.. and they should mean something to everyone who even half gives a damn about making this world a better place for people to survive in.
Well, to start off, the first song caters more to the self questioning that most people have to go through at some point and will continue to go through intermittently through life. At least this is how I see it, and this will be the case for the rest of the post. Consider this my opinions. You make of it what you will. So Shadow raises the question of morality, points the finger at the duality of good and evil present in each of us and begs us to recognize it as something we have to contend with and cannot ignore. As a basic idea I think it is something that everyone needs to come to terms with at some point, but overall this song rules because of its music more than anything.
Innocent is where I really feel they begin to hack away at the issues. Innocent is, first and a foremost, a call to gay rights. "What crime - is love - between - two people / the crime - is hatred - caused by ignorance - of difference". This is a clear signifier of the belief that love has no boundaries what I really think sets this song high on the bar is that these sentiments transcend sexuality and can be very appropriate of gender issues and race. "Ignorance breeds Intolerance" is the mantra of this song. It is strong and true and to this day there are still people being held down because of their sexuality, because of their color and because of the genitalia they have. I do not condone that line of thinking and this song spoke to me at an age where all of these things were becoming obvious to me. It is for this reason that I still find this song so powerful. "Im the one that needs to change" still holds true. No one is perfect, no one has it figured out. Keep growing, keep learning and keep finding ways to except the differences around you, to love them and appreciate them for the myriad ways in which the world wishes itself to be known.
'Current' is the proper closer to the 7", though I have the cd and it includes the two extra songs. I will end here with 'Current' as its the song that has had the most lasting effect on me after all of these years. Its also the best Outspoken song in my opinion, musically speaking. The lyrics here deal with the struggle of watching those around you, those who may be important to you, those who were once important to you, watching them get caught up in vice, depression, anger... whatever negativity it may be (and I believe this is probably most likely a straight edge song, but the best straight edge songs make their point with out and X ((and mind you, I am not straight edge)). The first person viewpoint of the song expresses the wish to save friends from drowning in a current, and the current can be, as stated, a number of things. I am sure we have all had a friend who got too into drugs or alcohol, or a terribly painful destriuctive relationship, maybe even a set of morals that deviates from the goodness of life and leaves that person in a darkened place. Whatever the current may be, its ever present. The narrator wishes to be able to save those people. As he states in a calm section of the song, "Set adrift. They drift away. I reach to save them. But how can I save those who won't save themselves." This part has always held so much meaning to me. Again, its such a simple truth, but so many people dont get it... And the way I see it, this song isnt telling us we cant save our friends as much as its saying that you have to save yourself. I dont know if anyone has tried and tried to not avail to save someone that just didnt want to be saved. You have to see things for yourself. No one can drive this ship for you. All that shit about Jesus carrying you when you are weakest, all the shit that people get hung up in to try to deal, too much drugs, too much sex, too much hate, all the people that want to save the world person by person.... Save Yourself. Revolt!
Now, I know that can be pretty Darwinian in its presented form, but think about it. Inject it with warmth and love and you may be able to see that its not some cold mechanistic way of dealing with loss, but rather a call to each and every one of us that we all need to fight our own battles before we can think to achieve the victory of other people battles. Jesus wont save you and I wont either. We all need saving and until we save ourselves no one else can do it for us. Only when we have fought our own demons can we even begin the idea of healing the world around us. When we all take responsibility for our own actions, when we can see what part we each play in a bigger picture and find peace with that, then, and only then can we truly begin to be the world we wish to be.
I might be way of base from what John Coyle wanted to get across with that song, but thats how its been to me all these years. And despite that I have tried anyway. I have tried and tried and in the end, the best thing I could come up with was that "being there" for someone and "saving them" were two totally different things.. and that what really matters is being there... people come to their own light when the time is right for them, and the best way you can facilitate that is to be there for them.
Heady shit in this post. Feel free to comment (please do) and refute me, agree with me, call me out for talking a poor line of bullshit. Whatever you got from these songs I want to hear, and whatever you got from what I said, I want to know. Thanks for listening.
Im in the process of photographing some of the cool vinyl finds I have made and will be sharing them with you at some point this week. Much lighter stuff...