CRKT Argus Knife
- AUS 8 steel blade with a black corrosion-resistant, badass-enhancing coating
- 3.55" blade, 4.56" handle, open length 8.13"
- A little tricky to open: watch the video
- That’s what keeps it from popping open in your pocket with catastrophic results for your future reproductive prospects
- Model: 7030K (I don’t care what the charity is, I’m not running that race)
Rock of Myth: Songs of Ancient Legends
We can imagine the conversation at CRKT headquarters. “OK, guys, we’re releasing a new knife. Basic black corrosion-resistant coating, 3.55” blade, our Outburst assisted opening coupled with our Fire Safe safety mechanism so it doesn’t open in your pocket. A little tricky to open (see the video to the right) but still a basic good knife. But what should we call it?"
“Ooh, I know. Let’s name it after the hundred-eyed giant from Greek mythology who slayed the serpent-legged monster Echidna in the service of Hera, and who was himself slain in a vain attempt to keep Zeus from mating with the shape-shifting cow-nymph Io.”
That’s what CRKT did when they named this knife Argus. And can you blame them? Ancient myths retain their primal power to thrill, to move, to shed light on the most basic impulses of human beings. There’s a reason they’re still familiar to us. Shitty stories don’t survive thousands of years.
In putting together this playlist of mythic pop and rock songs, the hardest challenges were (a) finding out which of the many metal songs based on mythology were worth including (thanks, Facebook correspondents!); (b) not making a list that was entirely metal; and how to fit the metal songs in among the rest, since metal is not a genre that plays especially well with others. So for the first time, I’ve segregated the styles in this playlist (also on Youtube for your autoplay convenience). All of the metal is grouped together at the end, in order of increasing intensity. Non-metal listeners can jump off whenever the ride gets too wild; conversely, if you only want metal, skip down to track 8 for the epic folk of Garmarna, or track 9 for Iron Maiden.
I’m also trying out a clearer listing of the artist and title - let me know what you think…
Sam Cooke - "Cupid"
It makes sense that the cherubic Roman archer de amor is the most often-cited mythological figure in pop songs. Pleas to Cupid don’t get any more plaintive than this:
Shocking Blue - "Venus"
Following closely behind in pop popularity is Cupid’s feminine opposite number. I grew up knowing this as a Bananarama song, but Shocking Blue deserves the props here:
The Police - "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
Speaking of growing up, this Police hit was my introduction to Scylla and Charybdis, the rock and whirlpool (respectively) that Odysseus had to navigate between. And my introduction to the concept that pop stars could be showily pretentious with lyrical references to mythology:
Rick Derringer - "Don’t Ever Say Goodbye"
One of my smartest Facebook friends pointed out this one, in which Rick Derringer tells his ladylove he needs her “like Leda needs her swan” - a reference to the Greek myth where Leda is raped by Zeus disguised as a swan. Maybe not the metaphor he meant to convey - then again, maybe I’m not giving Rick enough credit and that’s exactly what he was going for:
The Hollies - "King Midas in Reverse"
I’ve always thought this was weird, because didn’t everything end badly for King Midas? So does everything work out in the end for the hopeless subject of this pop-psychedelia legend?
The Association - "Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies"
Fellow pop-psych chart favorites the Association draw on a different Greek myth for this one:
Cream - "Tales of Brave Ulysses"
There’s not much “pop” about Cream’s psychedelia, and their heavier, more ponderous take on The Odyssey is a direct ancestor of the myth-metal we’ll hear later.
Screeching Weasel - "The Science of Myth"
Ever wanted to hear the work of comparative mythology scholar Joseph Campbell set to pop-punk twice as fast as anything the Ramones ever played? Screeching Weasel’s got your back:
Garmarna - "Herr Mannelig"
While Garmarna is Swedish folk, not metal, the epic scale and bombast of this story of “a female mountain troll who proposes marriage to a knight” (thanks Wikipedia!) clearly shows that at least a few of these musical Vikings have done some headbanging:
Iron Maiden - "Flight of Icarus"
The cautionary tale of hubris of Daedalus and Icarus, the Greek brat who flew too close to the sun, provides the basis for not one but two of our myth-metal songs. First, this one from Iron Maiden:
Valient Thorr - "Parable of Daedelus"
And this one from Valient Thorr in which, as usual for these walkers on the line of parody, you can’t tell how serious they are or if it even matters:
Amon Amarth - "Twilight of the Thunder God"
Finally, here are Viking metal demigods Amon Amarth with the legend of Thor meeting his fate in battle with the serpent Jormundgandr, in a song that’s about as extreme as I feel comfortable with in a Meh weekend playlist. If you like this stuff but somehow have never heard it, by Odin’s beard, you’ve got a lot of listening ahead of you:
While he’s been honored in knife form, Argus is still waiting for his definitive musical tribute. Come on, guys: a hundred-headed giant who was killed by Zeus while defending the honor of a cow-nymph! The song practically writes itself!
If you liked this, you’ll enjoy some of our past weekend playlists, and that’s no myth: