Spoken word, indeed!

Henry Rollins explores the power of the spoken word.

By Kara Noonan

Freedom of speech, politics, punk rock, Sri Lankan death metal, and world travel were just some of the topics that Henry Rollins covered during a spoken-word performance last month at Somerville Theater.

Speaking for three hours without one drink of water, the former Black Flag frontman – who is also an actor (“Sons of Anarchy”) and published author (“Get in the Van”) – lived up to his belief that “one should destroy the audience with everything they have. ”

Rollins told stories that never lost their way or became tedious. His intensity kept the audience engaged and allowed them to walk away thinking about the world in a different way.

Speaking about the need for education, for example, he said, “I have a fantasy of having a whole bunch of smart people in this country; it would be like a slippery woman covered in chocolate.” He said we should “take the Iraq war budget and put it into education.” He is bothered by the fact that the United States is “46th in the world in literacy … We should be at least third, but we really should be No. 1.

When Rollins says, “The world is my oyster,” he means it. He was backpacking through the Middle East and China right before this tour began, he said, describing himself as “thirsty for adventure.”

Rollins compares himself to Johnny Appleseed in that he is “on a quest to spread funk.” With him he carries “an external hard drive filled with music,” from the Stooges and Bad Brains, to classic rock. He wants “rebellion with music,” he said.

He left the audience with the encouragement to “continuously ask questions, as it is part of being human to be curious.” His final words of advice:  “Agitate and cause lots of trouble.”

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