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In solo release, Neon Trees singer Tyler Glenn metaphorically and literally renounces LDS Church for LGBT teachings
A screenshot from the video for "Trash," the debut single from Tyler Glenn’s first solo effort.
By Benjamin wood The Salt Lake Tribune
Published: April 30, 2016 12:11PM
Updated: April 29, 2016 10:50PM
Tyler Glenn • The musician says the church’s announcement on gay couples triggered his exit.
In March 2014, Tyler Glenn proclaimed on the pages of Rolling Stone that he was proud of his life as a gay man, his career as a musician and his Mormon faith.
On Friday, two years later, the Neon Trees frontman and former Utah County resident was back in Rolling Stone again, overtly parting ways with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints via the video for his debut solo single, “Trash.”
The video begins with Glenn slumped on the ground, drinking alcohol before he moves through a hallway lined with LDS imagery, performs what appear to be references to Mormon temple rites and ultimately collapses to the floor of an elevator with a red “X” drawn across his face.
“You used to baptize me when I wasn’t ready,” Glenn sings in the video as he spits on an altered image of LDS Church founder and prophet Joseph Smith.
A representative of the LDS Church declined to comment on the video.
In his interview with Rolling Stone, Glenn said he was a square peg trying to fit into the round holes of the LDS Church, which he believed in until six months ago.
“My entire life and perspective on God, the afterlife, morals and values, my self-worth and my born sexual orientation has been wired within the framework of this religion that doesn’t have a place for me,” he said.
Earlier this month, Glenn was interviewed on “Mormon Stories,” the podcast hosted by John Dehlin, who was excommunicated from the LDS Church last year.
Glenn told Dehlin that his exit from the LDS faith was triggered after the November announcement that married gay couples would be considered apostates of the church and children of gay couples would not be allowed to participate in church rites.
He said the shock of the announcement led him to spend the bulk of a weekend studying aspects of LDS Church history he had avoided as a practicing member of the faith.
Kendall Wilcox, a gay Mormon documentary filmmaker and co-founder of the advocacy group Mormons Building Bridges, said the impact from the November announcement can’t be overstated.
The declaration that same-sex couples were apostates was a punch in the gut, Wilcox said, to both gay and straight Mormons worried about how the LGBT community is viewed and treated by LDS Church leadership.
“It rocked everybody’s world,” Wilcox said. “Some people were able to bounce back or have resilience, and for others it was the breaking point.”
He said Glenn’s story attracts more attention as the result of Neon Trees’ success and Glenn’s musical career.
But the emotions expressed in “Trash” and in Glenn’s interviews with the media, Wilcox said, are shared by many current and former members of the LDS Church.
“I see this definitely as a normal and even typical step or phase in the spiritual process of being gay and Mormon,” he said, “where there are moments or periods of deep dissonance and anger that this doesn’t add up.”
Wilcox said the current environment for LGBT members of the LDS Church can be summed up in one word: “fraught.”
He said many feel, like Glenn, that there is no longer a place for them in Mormon culture, while others see a renewed conversation on how individuals and families are impacted by LDS Church teachings and policies.
“It’s as complex as ever and as delicate as ever,” he said. “There is as much reason now, more than ever, to both have hope and to accept the deep challenging realities that we are facing.”
Glenn told Rolling Stone that his Mormon Neon Trees bandmates support his solo effort and that the group will continue working together.
Neon Trees performed Friday night in Provo as part of a benefit concert with fellow local exports Imagine Dragons.
By the way, compare and contrast Glenn's journey with that of fellow Mormon rocker Brandon Flowers of The Killers. Not only did Flowers grow as a Mormon (not his fault), but he has continued to practice Mormonism as an adult, even going so far as to make a propaganda video for the faith.
Many religions feature tall tales that stretch logic and such, but Mormonism and Scientology practically stand alone as faiths that are clearly 100% made up by their founders (for gain) and full of illogical contradictions that make no sense whatsoever.
The shameful history of massacres associated with Mormonism, along with their more recent history of racism, sexism, child abuse, and homophobia, strip them of any vestige of legitimacy. They are no worthy of our respect, they are worthy of our contempt only.
The Byrds' Gene Clark scored this anti-marijuana "educational" film clip starring Sonny Bono.
Considering his fate, perhaps Sonny should have made a film about the dangers of trees while skiing.
They showed this film to us in our school basement in the 60s.
It's worth a laugh or two now.
Most interesting at this point is the musical score by Gene Clark, although it was performed by Things To Come: Bryan Garofalo (b), Russ Kunkel (d), Larry Robinson (g), Michael Migilars (g), and Lynn Rominger (g). Some believe that's Gene playing harmonica.
Russ Kunkel later played on Gene's masterpiece No Other, as well as drumming for absolutely everybody, including, notably, Dylan and Crosby, Stills & Nash.
In between two Coachella weekends, The Last Shadow Puppets brought their act to The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, California and were really well-received indeed by an energetic young crowd.
The Last Shadow Puppets could be (uncharitably) called Alex Turner's (of The Arctic Monkeys) side project with his mate Miles Kane, but now with their second album, they proudly lay claim to be a legit band in their own right.
The first album, some 7 years ago, was quite good, but the time that passed between releases made it seem that The Shadow Puppets meant little to Alex. The new album dispels that notion entirely.
Alex was in fine crooner form, while Miles mostly rocked out.
Several songs and B-sides from the first album were played and the punters appeared to respond more to these songs, although the new songs played well too.
A four-piece string section, along with a dynamite bassist, two acoustic guitarists occasionally, drum, as well a Alex and Miles playing guitar made for a very full sound. Anyone who wondered how The Shadow Puppets complex version of Walker Brothers-style Baroque Pop would translate live had their fears assuaged quickly.
The crowd made their affection for the group well-known, loudly and enthusiastically.
The sure comaraderie between Alex and Miles is obvious. This album and tour prove that the band has legs and should be producing some great music for some time to come.
The three-song encore began with a spirited cover... of The Beatles' I Want You (She's So Heavy):
The first song:
The first single from the first album The Age Of The Understatement:
Miles and Alex end a song with dramatic dueling guitars:
There were lots of people filming the show, so I didn't do much. Our friend Anna Garcia undoubtedly got better footage up front, which you can see here, on her YouTube channel "lairygirl"... (she actually went to several shows, including back East, and posted videos from many of them).
After leaving The Byrds, many thought Gene Clark would have an equally stellar solo career.
With The Gosdin Brothers and the two Dillard & Clark albums certainly had their moments, but proved to be disappointments commercially.
But then between 1970 and 1974, Gene Clark released some of the finest music he ever made and maybe that anyone has ever made, at least in our era. Sadly, it was mostly ignored at the time (apparently), even though he was already famous as an ex-Byrd and the fact that the material is quite good.
Between 1970 and 1974, The Flying Burrito Brothers recorded three Gene Clark songs (two with him on vocals), The Eagles covered a song he co-wrote on their debut album, Gene did two singles with the original Byrds, recorded two songs for the soundtrack of a Dennis Hopper movie, sang lead on four great songs (two by him and two by Neil Young) to a what should have been a glorious Byrds reunion album, released two incredible solo albums - White Light and No Other, and recorded an album for A&M (Roadmaster, which wasn't widely available until it came out on CD in the 1990's)
Listening to these works now, it's hard to understand why they generated so little interest at the time. (Several of them were unavailable to the public until years later.) The thought of a Byrds reunion album, with Crosby fresh from his successes with CSN and sometimes Y, should have been enough on its own to encourage people to give Gene Clark a fresh reassessment.
Yet it was not to be.
It seems that Gene never recovered from the lack of interest in No Other. He died in 1991 and his star has risen in recent years as a father of alt. country, but the mystery remains as to why CSNY and The Eagles were so huge at the time, and Gene Clark wasn't.
I'll be exploring this issue in the coming weeks.
In the mean while, please send me your thoughts on why Gene's solo work didn't catch on at the time. I'll try to incorporate them into the article.
In December 2015, it was announced that the city Santa Cruz, a hippie/student/skater/surfer enclave in Northern California, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first acid test (which took place in Santa Cruz in 1965) by placing a "historical marker" near the site of the event.
Tom Wolfe captured the spirit of The Merry Pranksters in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968). They travelled in the bus Furthur all over California and even across country, doing acid and trying to freak out the clueless locals.
At the Santa Cruz acid test, as at later such events, participants took acid, listened to The Grateful Dead (then called The Warlocks), danced, and attempted to transcend this reality, challenge their own assumptions, have fun, be creative and be truly alive in the moment.
Some of the Prankster vets, such as Mountain Girl and Ken Babbs, along with Neal Cassady's daughter Jami, gathered in December 2015 to mark the anniversary and celebrate the official city commemoration.
Many were curious as to how "acid" would be presented in the "historic marker" and in the end, it was only mentioned on a poster pictured on the display. The event itself is referred to as a Warlocks show.
The historic marker is in fact a bus stop, which seems odd at first, but they try to make it work by referencing the bus Furthur with Bob Weir's line "The bus came on and I got on".
Themed "The counterculture comes from Santa Cruz", it is actually much better than your run-of-the-mill historic marker in that it has much more information and illustrations than normally possible.
(By the way, psychedelic pioneer Alexander Skip Spence, founding member of Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape, is buried near this site over in Soquel.)
Very nice to see an official city commemoration to the counterculture, albeit semi-whitewashed, but specifically mentioning Beat hero (and Furthur bus driver) Neal Cassady, Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest), and The Grateful Dead (you know, John Mayer's new band).
Also referenced is Santa Cruz's legendary downtown 1960's-era bookstore/hangout place The Hip Pocket Bookstore, where Neal Cassady once worked and where one could hang out for hours for free, reading, writing, talking, and meeting the most interesting people around. A growing counterculture needs free, open places for people to meet. We could use a place like that now. Sub Rosa is part of that legacy, but we could use more spaces like that today, in a world that is increasingly insular and insulated.
The connection between the 1940's-50's Beat Generation (of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs) and the countercultural revolutions of the 1960's is located squarely in the acid tests, The Grateful Dead, and Ken Kesey, and most notably in the person of Neal Cassady, who played such vital roles in both the Beats and hippie movements. He is the connection, the spark, that made it happen.
UPDATE (4/15/16): Heard from Jami, Neal Cassady's daughter (who grew up near and still lives in the Santa Cruz area). She said she thinks the memorial at the bus stop is "amazing!" but clarified that there will also be an official city historical plaque near the location of the first acid test on Soquel Avenue near Santa Cruz.