A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Final Dee Snider – You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics

Did you know that Dee wrote the Stay Hungry album during the You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll recording sessions?

Did you also know that Dee had the chorus of We’re Not Gonna Take it written as far back as 1980? The song was finally finished, when the band went in to record the You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll album.

Let’s put into context this period of time.

The band had lost their record deal, they had lost their touring spot with Diamond Head and they were broke.

Dee was at a desperate point in his life as well, married, with kids and living in a studio apartment. He was broke, he was desperate and in these times of self-doubt, he had the life experiences to create great material. He had the fire and the angst.

The Kids Are Back kicks off the You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll album, released in 1983. My cousin Mega is a hard core Twisted Sister fan. He is the one that got me into the band. He even has the TS logo tattooed on his shoulder. This was my first exposure to the band. The sound of the marching feet. It was perfect for the time.

We walk the streets
In tattered armies
We got the lion in our heart
We’re not lookin’ for trouble
Just for some fun
But we’re all ready if you wanna’ start

How can I put in words the trueness of this verse? We just wanted to have fun, but man, if someone wanted to roll with us, we didn’t take a backward step. You can hear the anger build in Dee’s vocal delivery. It’s raw and it is honest. It is not auto tuned like all the other crap released today. It has a certain life to it.

I Am (I’m Me) is a song that needed to be written, so that Dee could go on and write, S.M.F, I Wanna Rock and We’re Not Gonna Take It. To me, it is like a back story to the main movies. It’s message is one of standing up for yourself.

Who are you to look down
At what I believe?

I was always asked the question; what am I going to do with my life. My answer was always the same. “I don’t know”. The eighties was a time when the youth didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of what their fathers did. I didn’t want to work in the steel mills. I wanted something different, but I didn’t know what. For too long I had been conditioned to want something else so when I was asked what I wanted, I didn’t have an answer.

We’re Gonna Make It is another song that needed to be written so that Dee could go on to write the classics.

The power of the people
Ain’t been showin’
It’s never what you know
It’s who you’re knowin’

It was the A to Z in making it in the Eighties gatekeeper world. You had to rely on gatekeepers in order to get your music recorded and released.

You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll

it’s an angry steed,
on a never ending course
with grace and speed
it’s an unrelenting force
his head thrown back, defiantly proud
under constant attack,
it’s blasting, fast and loud

I love how Rock N Roll is referred to a person. I lift up my hands in praise. Amen.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Success Is A Combination Of Different Metrics

I’m surfing the net and reading. I come across a few reviews of music. Black Sabbath are getting favorable write ups from the mainstream however music fans are split.

I think we need a shut down and a restart in music as everybody is so busy scrambling for cash. Great music is coming a very distant last.

Ozzy these days is all about the money.

In my opinion it doesn’t matter whether anybody buys the new Black Sabbath album. Thinking of sales as the only validation point is old school economics.

These days it’s all about whether people LISTEN to it. I love Black Sabbath but I’m not listening to 13 nor have I a desire to hear it again.

Music was always a service. People heard music by going to a live performance of it. Then music evolved into a product. I grew up in an era were I wanted to own the music I liked. I wanted to collect as much music as possible. I was buying a product.

Now I don’t need to own music. I can just get the music I like whenever I want to hear it. Streaming is changing the way I consume music.

Instead of purchasing a CD once and playing that album 10,000 times, I can now stream a song 10,000 times. It’s a relationship between the artist and fan that never ends.

The music business is built on smoke and mirrors. That gig that sold out, by bands purchasing their own tickets for reselling in reality didn’t sell out. That album that sold millions, by the labels pressing millions in reality didn’t sell millions.

If people want to know if an album or a song is a hit they need to look at more metrics.

How many YouTube views?
How many Spotify streams?
How many streams from other providers?
How many torrent downloads. Free music can be good for you. I remember watching the Iron Maiden 666 movie and Nicko McBrian was saying that they haven’t sold a single record in Costa Rica, however they have 40,000 kids coming to the show.
How many digital sales in the major markets?
How many physical sales in the major markets?
Are people talking about the album?

The main point is it’s a combination of everything, sales numbers are not everything, you’ve got to look at the total picture.

Standard
Music, My Stories

Will Dream Theater please it’s 500,000 strong cyber army with the new album?

I was going through my stats and the Why The Silence on the Live At Luna Park DVD article is my best post of all time. Why you ask?

It’s because people shared it on Facebook, Twitter and on various Dream Theater forums. The other key indicator is that people were searching for information on Google about the DVD release/status.

I am a massive Dream Theater fan.

The post was put up because I wanted an answer. Lo and behold, the band issued a statement on the status of the DVD project a few days later.

Did my post trigger that statement?Maybe. Maybe not. In the end I got an answer and so did the fans.

I got called a shitload of names on the forums because of the post and I even got called a Mike Portnoy fan boy.

For the record I am a guitarist. If anything I am a Petrucci fan boy.

I remember watching the G3 Tour of Australia. This is the one that had John Petrucci, Steve Vai and Satriani. I was there purely for Petrucci. I loved Suspended Animation.

Portnoy was on drums and David LaRue from Satriani’s band was on bass. It was a wicked set and too short for my liking.

Anyway, the set finishes, they take a bow and then Portnoy grabs the microphone and starts talking about Dream Theater and himself.

I was standing about 5 meters from the stage and I glanced over at Petrucci and he had those smiles going but his eyes told a different story. It’s that “I can’t believe this guy” look.

This night was about John Petrucci. It was not about Mike Portnoy or Dream Theater. The night was about a great solo album called Suspended Animation.

There is a time and place for everything. Portnoy had a habit of making it about himself.

So going back to the point of the post, what do the stats tell me?

Dream Theater fans are fanatical. We love the band and we will spread the word.

What does this tell Dream Theater?

The band has a 500,000 plus cyber army.

No pressure but they need to deliver a kick ass album (with a better mix than A Dramatic Turn Of Events).

The fans will do the rest. We will spread it. We will sell out your shows.

And get your arses to Australia this time around.

Standard
Music

What Does A Number 1 album mean these days?

So Black Sabbath had a Number 1 record with sales of 155,000. A friend of mine was quick to tell me that. Week 2 then saw a big 70% drop with only 45,000 sold.

Bon Jovi had a number one album with Because We Can and in nine weeks it disappeared completely. Why? Because the fans are not spreading it, they are not talking about it and they are not listening to it. Will the Black Sabbath album suffer the same fate? Time will tell.

What does a sale mean these days? Do sales even matter?

What does matter is whether people LISTENED to the music!

Spotify now has play count metrics and who can forget the worlds original unofficial streaming service, YouTube.

In this day and age new music from Black Sabbath with Ozzy singing is long overdue. However, in the end I am not hooked on it enough to spread it and from looking at the data, the fans have the same view.

Standard
A to Z of Making It

Success – Then And Now

Then
You struggled on a daily basis for success.

Now
You still struggle on a daily basis for success.

Then
You kept on going every time you got rejected or turned down. Music was the be all or end all.

Now
You have a back-up plan in case music doesn’t work out as a career.

Then
You got your name out by playing live.

Now
You get your name out by releasing great music and letting social media spread the word.

Then
The people that started the band, are not always the same people in the band when the band actually makes it. Twisted Sister went through many incarnations before the classic line up was formed. Metallica had a different bassist and a different guitarist when they started off. Motley Crue had a different vocalist. Bon Jovi didn’t have Richie Sambora at the start. Whitesnake had various line ups before they found mainstream success. Journey had a different vocalist before Steve Perry. Def Leppard didn’t have Phil Collen at the beginning. Iron Maiden had a different line up. KISS have gone through many versions before success and during success.

Now
You expect that the band will remain the same. People are unable to adapt to changes.

Then
Music was a tough business.

Now
Music is still a tough business.

Then
The fans had the power but they didn’t know it.

Now
The fans have the power and they know it.

Then
Bands sold records in the millions.

Now
Bands don’t sell anymore, but play to larger audiences.

Then
In the Eighties, image came first, music second.

Now
If the music is not great, no one cares how you look.

Then
Success was gauged on how many records bands sold.

Now
Success is still gauged by the Recording Industry on how many records are sold, however it is not a true indication of a bands reach.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Dee Snider – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics – Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down

After Widowmaker released Stand By For Pain in 1994, I was at a loss as to what was happening with Dee Snider. Information was hard to get. All of the music magazines wrote about Grunge, Alternative Rock and the rise of bands like Korn, White Zombie and so forth. Hard rock, heavy rock and heavy metal news was hard to come across, especially in Australia.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into an independent record store and came across Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down. This was in November, 2000 and the album had been out for about six months by then.

The album title alone made a connection with me right away. First, it was a typical Dee statement. Second, I was getting treated like dirt at work and it wasn’t long after I purchased this album that I left that employer.

I really liked the whole CD package, the booklet and the back stories provided by Dee for each of the songs. It is those connections that fans look for. The first working title for this album was Diamonds In The Dust.

Call My Name was written by Dee for the Stay Hungry album. As Dee stated in the CD booklet, he was so desperate to be somebody. WASP even wrote a song called I Wanna Be Somebody.

Now it may take a lifetime,
It might even take ten
Maybe nobody knows me,
They all will in the end

The path to musical stardom is right there in those four lines. To be somebody could take a lifetime. It could ten years, it could take 5 years. Nothing happens overnight. That is the cold hard truth of the music business. Jay Jay French stated in an interview with website Rockpages.gr

when Twisted Sister started in the United States gasoline was 30 cents a gallon, a hotel room was 19$ a night, a truck rental was 25$ a month, and you made 100$ a night! Now, gas in the US is 4$ a gallon, you truck rental is 400$ a week, your hotel room is 200 a night, and not only you don’t get that 100, but you have to pay 100, and there is no record deal, so the bottom line is “DON’T GET INTO THE MUSIC BUISNESS”! Go become a lawyer, a doctor… you’re not going to make money! The rock star dream is over! It’s gone!

While I don’t agree with all the words that French said in that interview, one thing is certain; the rock start dream is far from over. Music was never about platinum records or gold records. That part is all a fall out of the corporatisation of music. Music is all about making a statement. Music is about getting across a point of view that connects with people. Twisted Sister made that statement with You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll, I Wanna Rock, The Price and We’re Not Gonna Take It.

Cry You A Rainbow was originally written for the Desperado record. It was written by Dee Snider and Bernie Torme. Dee wrote some great ballads in Twisted Sister. The Price and King Of The Fools are two that stand out.

However Calling For You and Blue For You from the Widowmaker Blood and Bullet album set a new standard for me. Joe Franco even called Widowmaker the best band he has ever played in.

Calling For You is written by Dee Snider and Bernie Torme. It was actually written during the Desperado era. It was recorded for the shelved Desperado album. Thank God, Dee persisted in getting this song released. It’s quality all round. As Dee once said. “I can go out on stage and do that song knowing that not one word, not one note is contrived. The feelings are genuine.”

The Snider/Pitrelli/Torme penned Blue For You is a perfect illustration of the blues. The bridge is the best part of the song. Dee is summoning all of the Robert Johnson crossroad spirits for that vocal line.

First you want me
Say you need me
Then you tell me I’m a fool
Then you love me
Then you leave me
Oh, you’re breaking all love’s rules
Well I know I’ll love again
But I’ll never love anyone more

Cry You A Rainbow is another ballad that is up there. I remember reading the lyrics before hearing the song and making a connection to Calling For You. Again, Dee made a connection.

Ooh, our love is strong
Is it stronger than the pain all around us
Things we never thought we’d see
Ten thousand kinds of misery

Relationships are fragile. They could be heading full steam ahead and then something happens that changes everything. Most break up. The ones that don’t come out of it, changed and stronger. I have been married for sixteen years and I have three kids. Our love was stronger than the pain all around us.

Hardcore – Producer Tom Werman has gone on record stating that Dee doesn’t like to give credit to anyone else but himself. So how does Werman explain the song Hardcore. This is Dee, giving credit to Lemmy Kilmeister from Motorhead.

The power chord is all he needs
Kill or be killed his only creed
While death is certain, life is not
So he strikes while the iron’s hot

I love the Kill or Be Killed reference in this song.

Our Voice Will Be Heard is another Stay Hungry off cut. To plagiarise Dee, “another angry, young rocker anthem I’ve written over the years.” It’s about standing up and believing in yourself.

We are the people, we are the one
We’ve got the numbers, we’ll have the fun
Raise your fist in the air, show them all that you dare
And they’ll know, yes they’ll know

Our voice will be heard

You can tell that Dee went back to this song as a reference point when he was writing Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant). That is what artists do. They go back to their own body of work, twist it, rewrite it and make it better.

Isn’t It Time was originally written for the Desperado record. It was one of the first songs written by Dee and Torme. As Dee mentions in the booklet, “when Bernie and I started writing together, we had no band, no record contract, no band name and no real direction. As we worked together, a theme (albeit a Western one) started to come through. This is a great pop metal tune that didn’t fit into what became the Desperado sound.”

The song Desperado was meant to be the theme song of the Desperado project, instead it is seen as an epitaph of a dark period in Dee’s life.

Now just look how much you gave
The people that you tried to save
They don’t even wanna talk to you
And when you see just what you are
A desecrated fallen star
A bad man with something to prove

When I read the lyrics on the first verse, I immediately replaced the You with Dee. He is talking about himself. He is putting his emotions and feelings out there. It’s almost like Anakin’s fall to the dark side.

Desperado, how will the wind blow?
You’ve got the fire, it’s time to make a stand
Desperado, where did your love go?
Filled with desire, it’s time to tip your hand

When your life is going through a bad patch, everything around you bothers you. You start to argue with your loved ones, you feel that you have something to prove, so you lock yourself away even more. Then the desperation kicks in.

Better stop before you make a move
Think what you stand to lose
I know you’re mad because you were burned
But is there something that you’ve learned?

In the end, is it all worth it? In the end, is the path that a musician walks all worth it? That is the decision, we all need to make. When do you make a stand, when do you walk away, what have you learned and what do you stand to destroy? For any artist that wants to be somebody, Dee Snider has laid out the highs and lows for you in his songs.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Dee Snider – Stay Hungry – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics

You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll preceded Stay Hungry, and it was this album that started to give the Twisted Sister machine some momentum. It was the You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll video clip that set the wheels in motion. It was the prequel of what was to come. The calm before the storm.

So Stay Hungry comes out and it’s huge. This is the period were the image of bands started to become bigger than the music. MTV was rising as a force to be reckoned with and Twisted Sister had the songs and the video clips/mini movies for this new market. Tom Werman was on deck to produce. He is also credited as a writer and arranger, however this has been disputed by Dee Snider. Tom Werman has even said in interviews that Dee could never deal with any credit given to anyone but him.

The band has also mentioned in interviews that they never liked the sound on Stay Hungry, however a stipulation from Tom Werman is that he always wants a member of the band in the control room during the mix, and an approval of the final mix by the band before the album was turned in to the label.

We’re Not Gonna Take It became the anthem for the teenagers of 1984. The clip featured actor Mark Metcalf, from the movie Animal House. If anyone has watched Animal House Metcalf plays the sadistic and military orientated Doug Neidermeyer. Both of the video clips (I Wanna Rock and We’re Not Gonna take It) have dialogue that references dialogue from the Animal House movie. The “Twisted Sister pin, on your uniform” and “you are all worthless and weak” appear in the movie and the Twisted Sister video clips. In Animal House, the Twisted Sister reference is for something else. A connection is made immediately with me.

We’ll fight the powers that be just
Don’t pick our destiny cause
You don’t know us, you don’t belong

Rising up against authority. Rising up against the unwritten creed of Live, Work, Die. Rising up against the life that our parents, our teachers, our employers want from us. While other bands sang songs about reaching for the sky and all your dreams would come true, Twisted Sister brought it all back to reality. This is the street reality. The line is drawn, and we are saying, we are not going to take it anymore. Screw, reaching for the sky. All of that is fantasy rubbish. This is real. Making a stand right now.

I Wanna Rock is anthem number two for the disenchanted youth of the Eighties.

Turn the power up
I’ve waited for so long so I could hear my favourite song so, lets go!
GO! GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!

That is all we wanted to do. Turn it up, kick back, have a drink or two or three, have a smoke and enjoy.

I Wanna Rock, We’re Not Gonna Take It and Smokin In the Boys Room from Motley Crue, were in constant rotation on the music TV channels in Australia circa 1985. All three clips had the same theme and story to tell. All three clips are brilliant. All are produced by Tom Werman.

The Price

How long I have wanted
For this dream to come true

The Price is seen as the first Dee Snider solo piece. There are many songs about life on the road, and this is just another to add to that list. This is Dee’s take on touring Europe. It was written four months into that tour and by then Dee was getting homesick. He even wanted to re-record The Price with Widowmaker as he never believed that the song reached its full potential.

OH, it’s the price we gotta pay
And all the games we gotta play
Makes me wonder if it’s worth it to carry on

This is the part that no one tells you about. Life on the road, away from loved ones. This is the part where loneliness leads to addictions for many. This is the part where we question if it’s worth it to carry on. The people around you (like your band mates) are starting to get on your nerves. Are you prepared to pay the price?

S.M.F.

The best song on Stay Hungry by far. This song spoke to me. It connected on so many levels. Even in the metal and rock community, divisions existed. If someone liked Metallica, they hated people that liked Motley Crue, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Ozzy, Twisted Sister and so on. If someone like Slayer, they hated Metallica lovers. I liked all things metal and rock, however depending with which crowd I was hanging with, I could have been seen as a black sheep.

Black Sheep Of The Family
Nothing Like The Rest
Separate From The Others
Failing All Their Tests
Can’t They See You’re Different
So Hungry And So Lean
You’re A Walking Wonder
You’re A Metal Machine
Look And You’ll See
You’re A Lot Like Me

You’re An S.M.F.

In the end I am a music lover. I don’t believe in elitism. I don’t believe that to like Black Metal you need to worship Satan. I don’t believe that to like blues music, you need to have done it tough. I don’t believe that to like metalcore, you need to have a thousand tattoos and weird piercings. I don’t believe that to like glam rock, I need to wear lipstick and tease my hair. To me music is greater than the image.

And If They Think That We’re Sick
Then Sick Is What We’ll Be
Scream It Loud
Know What You Are Be Proud

A fitting end to it all. Be proud.

Standard