I have a confession. Up until the past month I hadn’t listened to Adam Ant for decades, and for that I am now deeply sorry. Maybe it was meant to be, because I would not have had this exquisite period of rediscovery that I am currently in the midst of; caught between feeling the giddiness of the 16 year old version of me that was head-over-heels enamored with the sexy, beautifully adorned dandy highwayman, and the current version of me that is completely stunned by how beautiful he still is decades later but has, much more importantly, rediscovered his music and can hear it with a new level of appreciation that perhaps only age, time, and maybe even distance, can bring.
The dead man eyes a giveaway
His baby blues a thousand miles away
A cool zombie
-Adam Ant, “Cool Zombie”
When I was in high school I would watch the videos with rapture and dance to the songs with abandon. I even got to see the band play live at least once, if not twice. (Who can remember after all these years?) As a teenage girl living in the suburbs all I cared about was music, and I dreamed of a life beyond the tract houses and strip malls. I fantasized about living in the beautiful, debauched world the Ants created. One punctuated with that aboriginal Burundi beat the band became so well known for, with its glorious mixture of visual imagery, sensual tribal sounds, quirky lyrics about pirates, Indians, princes, and sex. Ultimately, it was a call to arms. In this case, a gathering of proud ant warriors who didn’t care about the status quo and were preparing for the coming new world order. It was the early 1980s – a time of decadence and experimentation on so many levels. It was also a period rife with original new music and new fashion to go along with it, the likes of which we may never see again. Boundaries were being pushed and you either embraced it or rejected it. I embraced it, but even among so much fresh creativity during that time, nothing remotely resembled what Adam and the Ants brought to my generation.