Happy Deathday, Edgar Cayce! 5 Songs For Our Favorite "Seer"
On this day in 1945, a psychic named Edgar Cayce suffered a stroke that killed him. The famous sleeping prophet, who worked in Texas during the 1920s, was hailed far and wide for his abilities to heal the sick by entering a trance. He was even reported to be able to accomplish this remotely without ever seeing the patient in question.
Edgar Cayce c. 1910
Cayce got started on his career when a bout of laryngitis silenced him and left him unable to work as an insurance salesman. A traveling hypnotist took interest in Cayce's plight, and applied techniques that were being developed from the work done by Franz Mesmer. Eventually, Cayce's voice was restored through hypnotic treatments, and he became interested in the subject himself.
During a session with hypnotist Al Layne, Cayce in a trancelike state was asked to describe ailments and possible cures for the hypnotist instead of Cayce, which allegedly worked. Inspired by the possibilities, Layne encouraged Cayce to attempt to help the sick and distressed in Hopkinsville, Ky. with his trance readings, and the stories of his healing powers ended up making him one of the fathers of the New Age movement.
Truth be told, even though Cayce did make some silly stuff up about Atlantis and death rays and crystal balls, for the most part his work was really nothing more than early hypnotherapy. It just wasn't very well understood because a) it was kind of new; and b) it was being done by a man with a ninth-grade education. Much of the talk about past lives and remote viewing attributed to Cayce was the work of a printer named Arthur Lammers, who prodded Cayce into metaphysics.
Still, his name remains one that comes down to us through a shadowy haze of mysticism from an earlier era, and this week's playlist is dedicated to him.
King Missile, "The Birds"
Always open with King Missile if you can, that's my motto. In addition to forcing us to imagine Tom Brokaw with ketchup spread on his penis, "The Birds" walks us through the manic pattern recognition that allows paranoids to find meaning in meaninglessness in order to fuel their conspiracy theories. "Edgar Cayce, Casey Jones, Casey Stengel, KC and the Sunshine Band, 'Que Sera, Sera,' 'cause that doesn't work. It all adds up. I saw a vision last night!" For more information on this mindset, please visit Facebook at twenty past four on a Thursday.
Everclear, "Culver Palms (Or Why I Don't Believe in God)"
It's easy to forget that Art Alexakis was doing cowpunk in Colorfinger before he broke into the mainstream with Everclear, but you can still that influence as he covers his own song on So Much For the Afterglow. "Culver Palms" reminisces on a childhood spent with an unstable and abusive mother who hears voices and spouts the same superstitious rhetoric King Missile was talking about when it comes to Mr. Cayce.
Taking the mentally ill's fixation on things like psychic powers as a reason to cease all belief in a higher being seems a bit of overkill, but sometimes misplaced faith will do that to a man.