For those who prefer the melodic pop side of rock music, Cotton Mather has surely been a source of much fun over the past 27 years. Austin’s Cotton Mather plays irresistible Beatlesque pop crossed with an early Elvis Costello sneer. Frontman Robert Harrison’s voice has always reminded me a bit of John Lennon, who as my original musical hero makes me instantly swoon when I hear a Cotton Mather track. Cotton Mather’s Kontiki is their 1997 pop masterpiece, and if you’ve never heard it, I highly recommend listening to it right after this track. But what impresses most about Cotton Mather is that they continue to make relevant, exciting, brilliant music to this day.
Harrison is currently in the midst of a large-scale project wherein he pens a song for each hexagram of the I Ching. “Songs from the I Ching” will eventually be made up of 64 songs. These tracks are to be spread across a number of EPs and LPs. The first set of tracks appeared on 2016’s Death of the Cool and Cotton Mather is set to release Wild Kingdom on 7 April. Today, we are premiering “Better Than a Hit” from the upcoming new album. It’s great, it’s Cotton Mather. Give it a listen, listen to the band’s catalogue and catch the band at SXSW. Meanwhile, we are going to let Harrison describe the meaning and intent of the song.
“Better Than a Hit” is based on the 43rd hexagram of the I Ching, called ‘Eliminating’
“Color My World”
The movies of our own lives are typically black and white, there being no place for reality’s subtle color in a film populated by white knights and black-hatted villains. This may be more agreeable to the ego’s plot line, but not terribly useful when it comes to self cultivation.
We were the last family among my friends to get a color television and its arrival was a very big deal. A Zenith (even the name was exotic) with faux wood speaker grating, and weighing more than an Oldsmobile. After the initial excitement wore off, I concluded in typically melancholic fashion, that something important was permanently lost and life had been better in black and white. As much as I loved watching NFL football on the Zenith, my favorite shows weren’t holding up as well to the scrutiny of color. The sanctimonious Steve McGarett of Hawaii Five O, for instance, was completely undeserving of Maui’s aquamarine vistas because he was, after all, cut from the cloth of Dragnet.
The I Ching, by and large, advises against a black and white point of view, with the notable exception of hexagram 43—Eliminating—which warns against the presence of evil forces in and around you and how you must summon the strength and support required to dispatch them. And as for the agent of “evil”—according to Master Alfred Huang—their misfortune is entirely of their own making, and there’s nothing you can do about it. He references the ancient sage adage, “If one plants melons, one reaps melons”.
When I’ve received this reading either for myself or on behalf of someone else asking for my help, the advice couldn’t be much clearer. Eject! Get the hell out of Dodge! Cut your losses! And once you do, whatever your immediate difficulties may be, at least you’ll be operating from a place of peace. Or in the words of the late Peter Tosh, who may have appreciated the title of this song, it’s time to ‘walk and don’t look back’.”—Robert Harrison
SXSW TOUR DATES
3/11/2017: Austin, TX Second Play Stage @ Sheraton Hotel (SXSW, 7PM, Acoustic)
3/15/2017: Austin, TX @ The Main (SXSW, 11PM, supporting Spoon)
3/16/2017: Austin, TX Rajiworld Showcase @ Palm Door (SXSW, 12AM)
3/18/2017: Austin, TX @ Yard Dog (SXSW, 1510 S. Congress)