Updated: Aug 24, 2019
Grace Jones - "Sunset Sunrise"
Midday Sunday, post-run, the sun punched through haze and shined optimistic and bright on the earth, but it did not shine on me. I found myself kneeling down, burrowing my knees into gravelly soil and greenery at the edge of a random parking lot. As I gripped to my passenger side window to maintain balance and heaved chunky fragments of polluted seafood from abysmal, sour cavities within, I met a fever provoked vision or dream or mirage. A statuesque figure stood at the edge of the parking lot. She was tall and dark, appearing to be carved from stone with precise X-Acto lines, which gashed through interstate traffic dust. She never moved, not even her mouth, and yet she whispered something to me. Using an extrasensory means of transport and plow, she sowed her seeds of wisdom into my brain—Take a long, long look.
And I did.
At each stop I observed the grass I stooped on. I witnessed a spider curled on a high leaf. I watched ants hike militantly with scraps and fragments. I saw an empty tuna can, dumped in the beautiful woods, an ugly and tarnished mark on the earth’s flesh. At one point I found myself on the edge of someone’s farm and was careful not to toss toxic on their soy crops or crush them with my large, blundering body. I wondered if killing one or two plants would matter anyway. I wondered how many ants I had smashed or burned with my bile. I wondered if any strangers had seen me in this condition. And when my vomit converted to pure acid I thought—I should have picked up that can. Then I thought about how I selfishly didn’t care about any of this, because all that mattered to me in all of those moments was comfort, relief, peace, and an end.
The ride toward choosing a song recommendation for today was paved with providence and personal blocks. It was a path that took me from new wave to J.G. to G. J., past crows and warriors and a fire breathing guitar, where I was picked up and dropped in an unknown place, bent spewing in the dirt and left feeling pretty damn small and insignificant in this world.
To remain true to the song, I speak fluent cryptic and vague (refer to aforementioned private dots and lines). You will have to trust me (yes, I’m asking you to trust the same person who has bizarre parking lot hallucinations and visions) when I tell you that the road here was long and laced with apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic imagery and profound contemplations and reflections about our world (yours and mine—or not). Many lessons were learned, connections were made, and now I feel obligated to pay this song forward.
“Sunset Sunrise” by Grace Jones serves a sobering reminder that this world, this planet we have puked on and claimed as our own—is and is not ours.
And I think we would all be wise to listen, heed Jones’ words, and approach this world in that manner.
The version of “Sunset Sunrise” I’ve included in this piece is from Jones’ “AVO Session” performance in Basel, Switzerland in 2009.
I specifically selected this version for the part at the beginning where she requests, staying in song and character, for her stage crew to cut on the fan. For me, her discreet beseeching escalates the ominous message of the song.
Can you turn it on? Please.
To this refined, fascinating, and inspiring lady, I invite everyone to celebrate. Visit a nightclub or put on Hurricane or Warm Leatherette and raise your goblet to toast Madam Jones. To Grace—may you always have an ever so pleasant, cool-wind breezy, and inviting day.