Things I now appreciate

I’ve recently begun to discover that I’m starting to enjoy certain things a lot more than when I was younger. Maybe I’m tired and hearing/seeing things differently. Maybe I’ve grown up somewhere along the way. I don’t know.

But music-wise, wow. It’s not that my tastes have changed — I still love thrash metal as much as I do the beautiful vocals of some female singers — but when I listen now, it’s somehow different.

Now, let’s back up here. Recently, I started downloading some music. A lot of it is the same stuff that I had on tape (hah, dating myself) but never got around to buying on CD. Stuff that I’m finding I really missed.

A good example is Iron Maiden’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” CD. I have it on tape, and back in the day, I remember being very “meh” on it. After downloading and throwing it on my iPod, all I can say is “Oh. My. God.” I really freaking love that album. “Powerslave” used to my all-time favorite Maiden album, but now… now it’s a toss up between “Somewhere in Time” and “Seventh Son.” On my drive home in the middle of the night, blaring Seventh Son is just awesome, and I can’t explain why. I guess somewhere along the line, I forgot just how much Bruce Dickenson’s vocals kick ass. You newbies can keep your American Idol singers who do all kinds of retarded things in an effort to “prove” that they’re good singers — I’ll take Bruce or even Geoff Tate from Queensryche, because they have nothing to prove — they simply ARE great singers.

And then there is the lyrics factor.

You know, I never realized it until I sat and listened to the songs, but a lot of metal bands like Anthrax (for example) were really just colossal nerds with musical talent. Songs about comic books, songs about Stephen King books, songs about whatever the hell was interesting to them. None of the posturing poser bullshit that we see in a lot of modern artists — these old school guys were just having fun while making a buck. I mean, any time I listen to Nuclear Assault’s “Butt Fuck” on the “Game Over + The Plague” CD, I just start laughing (“… Cause after all, we’re musicians and we can do whatever we want!”). Metallica’s “Garage Days Revisited” is another example of musicians having fun. It’s great stuff.

And you know, a lot of the lyrics were smart. Nuclear Assault has a song called “When Freedom Dies” on the album “Handle with Care” where the refrain is “We become/the enemy/when freedom dies/for security.” And bear in mind, this album was out in 1989 — it’s not just a post-9/11 phenomena that we, as Americans, are suddenly concerned about our eroding freedoms. Hell, Megadeth’s “Hook in Mouth” on “So Far, So Good, So What!” is all about freedom of speech and music’s fight with the PMRC — a group headed up by Tipper Gore in an effort to “protect” kids from vile music that was allegedly causing kids to kill themselves. (This explains my pure hatred of her and Al — I’ll never forgive or forget that whole thing. Ever.) Of course, it was funny that Dee Schneider (of Twisted Sister) WTFpwned both Gores and the PMRC during congressional hearings about the “dangers” of heavy metal music. These musicians were all on the front lines during that whole fiasco — and never missed a chance to lyrically take shots at the government. And as I return to today — I wonder what Tipper & Co. would think about the lyrics of some of the rappers out there. They probably never knew how good they had it.

Good ole metal bands. I’m not saying they were all great — but man, I will say that I never thought I’d see them the way I do now.


5 Responses to “Things I now appreciate”

  1. 1 Sly Reference
    February 11, 2009 at 7:41 am

    I haven’t listened to metal for a while — my tastes have really changed — but there was a lot of talent there for a genre that had little radio air play. Most of those bands sold well because people heard about them from their friends, from magazines or maybe Headbangers Ball and got caught up in the music. They hit their audience on a much more visceral level.

    And another thing about the time that was different — we all still thought we’d die in a nuclear war. The Soviet Union was still a threat, and we were afraid that America would become the same, run by faceless dictators. There are a ton of metal bands whose lyrics grew out of that fear and hate, and inspired more art than our victory.

    “This explains my pure hatred of her and Al — I’ll never forgive or forget that whole thing. Ever.”

    There’s a part of the American people that never will.

  2. 2 Sly Reference
    February 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Oh, definitely, there were some angry geeks in the metal world. Guys like Mustane were into some really serious issues.

    Did I ever tell you my friend’s Dave Mustane story? My friend got caught driving drunk and had to go to rehab, and one of the guys there was Mustane. My friend didn’t really like him, and ragged on him about a bunch of things. The one thing I remember was that when the First Gulf War broke out, Dave was driving down the highway in his car and was so upset that he had to pull over and start doing some cocaine.

  3. February 11, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Oh Tipper and Al – I’ll never forget. Not only did they want to censor violent lyrics, they were also trying to ban lyrics that didn’t agree with their christian faith.

    My favorite response to this was Sacred Reich’s “Who’s To Blame”:

    “Oh my god it’s Jonny hanging by his neck
    all those metal albums have led him to his death

    Now it’s time for parents to open ears and listen
    maybe it’s too late to see what you’ve been missing

    Music is no cause of death it’s you that
    If you had opened your eyes and ears you’d see just who’s to blame”

    But of course they were ahead of their time in other ways too:


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