Seagalogy 101: Songs from the Crystal Cave

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[This week we’ll be looking at a few bits from Seagology: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal by Vern (Titan Books). Recently updated and expanded, the book tracks Steven Seagal’s career from the big screen to the small screen. It also includes some of Seagal’s side ventures. Seagology comes out tomorrow. Look for our spotlight on the book this Friday.]

Our first lesson in Seagalogy comes in the form of Steven Seagal’s debut album, Songs from the Crystal Cave (2005). I’d been aware of this one for a few years, but never sat down to listen to it until last weekend. While a Steven Seagal album may be a surprise to some, Vern points out in Seagalogy that the man’s been playing guitar at least as long as he’s been practicing aikido. Vern also notes that Seagal had been writing music for his movies for years, including the end credits songs for Out for Justice (“Don’t You Stand in My Way,” co-written with George Allman) and Marked for Death (the reggae track “John Crow,” co-written with Jimmy Cliff).

Songs from the Crystal Cave is a strange amalgam of world music, soft rock, and adult contemporary, with a touch of blues. In two reggae songs, “War” and “Strut,” Seagal affects a Jamaican accent. “The Light,” by comparison, has a breezy, skipping melody with spiritual chanting — it wouldn’t be out of place in a day spa. There’s a smoky, working-class blues lament in “Route 23,” and to add to the eclectic mix, there’s also a guest harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder on “My God,” a tale of religious tolerance. It’s all done with absolute seriousness, which means the level of honest sentiment is high, as is the embarrassing earnestness. The album reminded me a little of the music of David Brent from The Office (UK). Make of that what you will. Seagal released a second album, Mojo Priest, which we’ll look at later this week.

After the cut, three tracks from Songs from the Crystal Cave. We’ll lead off with “Strut,” a reggae hook-up song with Seagal repeatedly saying “me want the punani.” After that, “Jealousy,” one of the songs in which Seagal hates on his haters in the tabloids. And we’ll end with the power ballad “Don’t You Cry,” a song which closes the direct-to-video Seagal movie Into the Sun.

“Strut” by Steven Seagal featuring Lady Saw

“Jealousy” by Steven Seagal

“Don’t You Cry” by Steven Seagal

 

Another class in Seagalogy 101 tomorrow…

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.