Friday, February 16, 2018

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1


I remember in 1995 the Flaming Lips were playing at the Peach Pit in Beverly Hills. At least, I remember when Beverly Hills 90210 featured the band in one of their episodes, and all the kids at Beverly High were stoked. I thought they were pretty good, and I didn't think about them much after that.

I moved to Germany when I was 19 years old in 1999.

When I was 26, a student at UC Berkeley, I hung out a lot in Oakland bars. At some point, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt 1 came on, and everyone was surprised I hadn't heard it. Their most successful album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots had been released in 2002. I'd missed it abroad.

I instantly fell in love with the experimental psychedelic sound and the lyrics that seem to be saying one thing but meaning something entirely different.

My friends at the time were mostly artists and poets, people who maybe often feel like they are alone without anyone looking out for them. Maybe it was just me. Either way, my circle of friends took to singing the song at the tops of our lungs any chance we could. If there was a jukebox, we chose it. If we were closing down the bar, our friends behind it put this song on and sang along.

Here's what Billboard said about the album:

"beneath the sunny, computer-generated atmospherics and the campy veneer of talk about gladiator-style clashes between man and machines with emotions, Yoshimi is actually a somber rumination on love and survival in an unfathomable world."

During the chorus we'd choose someone to point at and sing that they wouldn't let the robots eat us. Every time we shouted "Oh Yoshimi!" we pointed at a new person until everyone was included. The robots are everywhere. They're programmed to destroy artists and writers or people who just care about anything in the indifferent universe. Sometimes, for fleeting moments, maybe you have a few Yoshimis around you who might take their vitamins, learn karate, and keep you safe. When those people are around, sing them a song. If you can't sing, just play them this.

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