Debate Magazine

The Tea Party I Want You to Know

Posted on the 15 November 2011 by Realizingresonance @RealizResonance


The Realizing Resonance philosophical theme for the month of November is Knowledge. In order to illustrate some of my own musings on the subject I thought it would be fun to use lyrics from my favorite band of all time. They are The Tea Party, a power trio from Windsor, Ontario, not to be confused with the American political movement. I have seen these guys live nine times, with the first three shows in Seattle at the Moore Theatre. Then after that I traveled up to Vancouver in order to watch them perform because they stopped releasing albums and touring in the US. They are virtually unknown in the States, and I think that this is a tragedy for rock music fans. It has been a goal of mine to introduce The Tea Party to as many Americans as I can, ever since hearing their first album Splendor Solis back in 1994. Now readers, I want you to know the music of The Tea Party.

The Tea Party puts on one of the most amazing live performances I have ever seen, with a dynamic passion that enchants and an intimate interaction that endears. Being part of a Tea Party audience has always been a profound experience for me. Drummer Jeff Burrows lays down potent and dynamic rhythms, enhancing a traditional kit with hand drums and electronic pads, while Stuart Chatwood complements the percussion with driving bass lines. Chatwood also adds piano, keyboards, sampling, harmonium, and mandolin to the eclectic The Tea Party sound. The vocals of Jeff Martin are always powerful and deep, penetrating the room with melodic intensity, interwoven with his passionate and skilled playing of guitar, as well as other, more exotic, stringed instruments, two musical voices harmonizing through one soul. The band broke up in 2005, and I never got to treat my wife to one of their concerts before that, so I am excited to report that they are back together for a reunion tour, and my wife and I will be driving up to Canada to see them tomorrow!

Some of you reading this article may have thought I was going to be discussing the conservative American political movement, also known as The Tea Party. This is an easy confusion these days, with many Americans surprised to find that when they type “” into their web browsers that they are directed to a website for a Canadian band. This bewilderment has prompted the band to dub their current reunion tour the No Politics Just Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour. If you are one of those disoriented Americans who clicked on this article hoping to read a juicy political diatribe, I hope that I can offer you some excellent music and lyrical analysis instead.

I am drawing on the inspiration I get from songs by The Tea Party to discuss the topic of knowledge, but it should be pointed out that I am taking my own poetic license here. I am interpreting the lyrics in my own way, and using them as vehicles for expressing my own ideas about human knowledge, and this may or may not be what The Tea Party originally intended when they wrote these songs. Since The Tea Party is rarely heard in the US and there is only a limited selection of their music available on Amazon, I am including YouTube clips for each of the six songs I will be discussing. And given that this article is in honor of their reunion tour, and my tenth Tea Party show, I tried to include links to live clips. Unfortunately, performances of “The Majestic Song” are extremely rare events, so the clip for this track is the album version. Feel free to listen as you read. I hope you enjoy the music of the The Tea Party as much as I do.


These are the times when we live inside our minds, with our hands in the air. There’s voices everywhere in the slipstream. It’s like a daydream. These are the days when we’re dancing through the haze, with our ears to the ground we’re searching for the sound of a dove’s cry. But it won’t be over until you tell me love. Tell me where the stars sleep. Tell me why your eyes weep. I really want to know. And show me love. Take me to the place where everything would change there, and we’d all be free.

The upbeat and melodic prose of “Stargazer” makes me think about curiosity, and the inquisitiveness of the great stargazers Copernicus and Galileo. Knowledge is often acquired and retained through curiosity, the feeling of really wanting to know something, like where the stars sleep. Knowledge is often thought about in an analytical and clinical sense, yet the knowledge we pursue is not partial to us, but has meaning, involving our thoughts and our emotions. I see a direct relationship between my acquisition of knowledge and my curiosity.

Sure, we can know things without caring about them, but this is not the best way to capture our attention. It is when we are actively engaged with our own learning that we truly appreciate what our own knowledge means to us. The world is a wondrous and magical place when you just stop to think about it, and I for one never run out of things to be curious about in this world. Before proclaiming boredom with life try gazing up at the stars with the curiosity of a child.


You want to look at the edge of madness, just to see, to see. You want to find what your missing out on, come on over here child, talk it all to me, but don’t you come here wasting my time. I’m gonna make it just fine…Can there by some other way? Can’t we make you stay in apathy?

To feel apathy towards something is to feel indifference towards it. This is the opposite of curiosity, so it would seem that apathy has little to do with knowledge and more to do with ignorance. However, consider that a person can only acquire a fraction of the total information available to learn in the world, and that apathy serves as a useful means of limiting our curiosity for all knowledge. This frees up our intellect for those pursuits we deem worthy, and focuses our attention onto those things we really care about. Apathy works with curiosity to create the figure and ground of our personal knowledge sets, giving them unique profiles, and turning the white noise of the data stream around us into patterns of useful information.

Apathy may be the emotion of bliss expressed through ignorance, for the trouble of a truth may be only known to those who know it. The apathy of American’s who do not vote has been explained by economists as a form of rational ignorance, because gathering all of the information needed for informed voting on candidates and issues has a cost in time and effort associated with it that may not be worth the effect of one lone vote. Because information can increase one’s power when it is held asymmetrically, it may be in the interests of the powerful to promote apathy. My interpretation of The Tea Party lyrics above suggests another dimension to the encouragement of apathy, in which one who knows a dangerous truth may seek to dissuade the curious novice who is still blissfully ignorant of it. Apathy promotion can be an agenda, for ourselves or others, for good or bad.


So let me tell you about a story. It’s about a man consumed with vice. He’s theosophical in nature and hedonistic in disguise. And all his life he’s been wandering, looking for teachers with the keys. Nothing found, still searching for sound…underground.

Knowledge is not only structured by the interplay of our curiosity and apathy towards various observable and communicable facts, but also by the search for a deeper meaning to the information that we hold. The awareness that there is always a question for every answer, the infinite regression of our inquiry leads our curiosity to the consciousness of what is still unknown to us. Knowledge implies mystery, and mystery is an imperative to further knowledge. To obtain a fuller explanation for our experience of reality we must search beneath the surface, we must dig below the visible and empirical ground we stand upon. When our quest for understanding goes beyond what is observable our search goes underground into the realms of metaphysics and theology.

We need teachers and mentors to help us make sense of our reality, to guide us along the path of knowledge. In the beginning of our lives we don’t select our mentors; they come in the form of parents, siblings, teachers, culture, and media, mediated by the figure and ground of our own curiosity and apathy. As we grow older we learn the tools for personal knowledge acquisition, and this gives us access to mentors from across the ages. Despite the abundance of mentors with metaphysical answers, we may find that we continue to wander, that we continue to search. When knowledge is underground it can easily remain unfound.


We fear what we see in the distance. We’re shattered by life’s soft deceit. Enslaved to our thoughts by our reason. Refusing to walk with the weak…Tell me what I have when it all slips away. Tell me what I see when the light fades away. Tell me what I hold in the palm of my hand. Tell me what I feel, because I’m trying to understand. I’m sending transmission.

Communication propagates knowledge. Communication also distorts knowledge. Information transmission, whether by talk or text, is how we learn from each other, as well as how we influence the knowledge of those around us. This provides a shortcut for discovering all knowledge directly through experience, and leverages human history for the continuous accumulation of knowledge and progress. Transmission of knowledge can be instigated through the curiosity of the inquisitive child, or involuntarily received by the apathetic teenager. Knowledge can be transmitted by broadcast, but it can also be developed through dialectic.

Without the transmission of information the accumulation of collective human knowledge seems inconceivable, along with the endless invention, innovation, and cognitive evolution that it has enabled. Yet this very communication, being dependent upon autonomous independent individuals for its diffusion, allows for questions to go unanswered, the propagation of lies, and the attenuation of signals. Our knowledge is subject to the idiosyncrasies of its transmission.

Sister Awake

Sister walk through these fields of delight, I want you to know, desperation’s the tenderest trap. So gently you go. What will it take? Sister awake. When this beautiful cult of desire has left you for dead, isolation will cradle the lies of things left unsaid. What will it take? Sister awake.

Creativity springs forth from knowledge. When we know things we can use them to synthesize new knowledge. One does not write a beautiful song without knowledge of the notes, even if this is only known by their sound. Creativity can be impulsive, but the creation of novel and beautiful works of art rarely comes from the inexperienced and unpracticed novice. We must learn to strum a guitar before we can perform a moving song on it. Artists may be born gifted, with no need of instruction, and have an aesthetic sensibility beyond what can be taught and learned, but without the development of skill they may just as easily end up with a muse and no means of expression.

The Tea Party song “Sister Awake” is creativity incarnated, an impressive work of musical genius, in my humble opinion. The creative spirit is being called to awaken in the lyrics, and it is clear that this spirit is thriving in the musical accompaniment. The album version of the song features layers of instruments, including the incorporation of a twelve string guitar, harmonium, sitar, and hand drums. The structure of the piece defies the typical verse/chorus structure, progressing more like a story that is being told. Much inspiration and imagination went into the crafting of this song, but without the proficiency of the players who wrote it, I don’t see how it could have ever developed into what it is. In this way, creativity depends on knowledge.

The Majestic Song

And the streams, they are running to an ocean that is dry. And the sands of the ocean are the prophets in the eye of the sage who has chosen to forfeit all he knows…I know. And you know, and you know that some things never change. In a world, in a world that seems bound by human pain. Come along, come along now it’s not too far away…I know.

The lyrics of the “The Majestic Song” tell the story about a sage giving up his knowledge, the most knowledgeable among us surrendering his wisdom. This brings to mind Socrates and his argument that to be truly wise is to recognize that you are not wise. The Socratic method of questioning the knowledge of others often reveals that the experts are just as clueless as the ignorant. The sage who forfeits all that he knows may be the wisest of sages.

Knowledge has its limits, and this means we must be humble in our own knowingness. A know-it-all can never truly know it all, and this stance on knowledge is often held by the least wise among us. Sometimes we know just enough to be dangerous. Sometimes we must forget what we think we know. The wisdom of the sage may seem impressive compared to the fool, but compared to the infinite scope of complete knowledge these individuals are not far apart. The real difference is that the wise sage knows this, while the know-it-all fool does not. I know.

I hope you have enjoyed my presentation of the music of The Tea Party, and that my commentary added something to the experience. This sample of songs is just a small taste of what this great rock band has to offer, so I hope you will continue this sonic adventure and enrich your musical knowledge by listening to more of their catalog.

Jared Roy Endicott

The Tea Party I Want You to Know Subscribe in a reader


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog