Maybe nerds like dissecting religion (scientific fact: If something can be dissected, nerds will dissect it), or maybe humorous reinterpretations of biblical lore are hot for Spring 2010 indie culture. Either way, the Bible’s been catching my eye (and ear) a lot lately in ways I find genuinely interesting for the first time since I managed to smuggle The Catcher in The Rye into my catholic school bible reader in 9th grade.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible! is a collection of wryly reworked biblical stories by PRI contributor and writer Jonathan Goldstein. In this version of The Bible, David kills Goliath more for kicks than to save his people, Jonah has a brother named Vito with a childhood secret, Adam and Eve read more like Robin and Barney from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and poor Joseph of Nazareth is having a hard time swallowing the ol’ a-divine-angel-impregnated-me story. You can hear Goldstein read his version of Genesis on the most recent episode of This American Life, which deals with Starting from Scratch.
Long awaited and recently released, infamous cartoon artist Robert Crumb is currently on tour for his latest book, Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis. The book, which Crumb has spent the past four years working on, was released by W.W. Norton & Co this fall to critical acclaim. In anticipation of the large R. Crumb Genesis show currently on display at LA’s Hammer Museum, W Magazine (considered by many to be the ecclesiastical equivalent to say, a hymnal or missal in the cult of fashion) recently commissioned a spread by the artist, defining female archetypes through the ages with his recognizable brand of satirical comic art.
And finally, a little blasphemy for the ears: while listening to an old episode of All Songs Considered, I came across Lou Barlow’s new solo album, Goodnight Unknown, which inspired me to revisit some of the Dinosaur Jr./Sebadoh pioneer’s earlier solo work. Enter Mary, a folky interpretation of Jesus’ conception that paints the Virgin Mother in a less-than-virgin light. Barlow’s most accessible album, EMOH was released in 2005. His latest, Goodnight Unknown was out earlier last month, and is available nearly everywhere thanks to the wonder of the internet.
In the end, I still wonder what exactly it is about The Bible that makes it a constant source of inspiration to artists. Will this eternal well of inspired subject matter eventually dry up and become trite? Or, like all things fashionable, has it already dried up and become retro-chic to reference?