What does the promised land mean for you?
That is the question that Chris DeGarmo, Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield, Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton are asking on the overlooked eight-minute title track of their 1994 album after the mega success of “Empire”. It is a dark piece, full of space so the notes resonate in the atmosphere.
Do you see the promised land as success and your name in lights everywhere?
Do you see the promised land as being at home, surrounded by loved ones, doing your duty and having a laugh?
Do you see the promised land as some magical place that fame and success was meant to bring?
Or do you see the promised land as a place of loneliness, disillusionment and disappointment as it is not the utopian paradise you envisaged?
Because even though we all have ambitions to be successful, success also comes with drawbacks.
But what is clear, is that the promised land is something which is special to all of us and for us alone to discover. But it’s hard to quantify, because from birth, we are told that success relates to money and material possessions.
“Look at my house”.
“Check out my car”.
“Like my Rolex watch”.
We are conditioned to believe that we need to show people how we are successful because culture and society is setting the definition. “Making it” to me is not about how many houses and cars and money I have. It’s not something I want to teach my kids to strive and attain for because it’s so easy to get caught up focusing on attaining instead of living and life will just pass on by.
The promised land to me is all about balance. I want a family that I can spend time with, have laughs, watch movies, go to concerts and experience as many memories as I can. I also want to create art with words and music and I want to work and I want to spend as much time travelling as I can. I also want to keep coaching.
I appreciate each day, I love life (including all of its ups and downs) and I know each day is a blank canvas to create something. Sometimes, some things get more attention than others, but in the long run, it all balances out.
There is no unique riff to kick off the song, but a feel, with jarring bass and guitars coming in and out.
Standing neck deep in life,
My ring of brass lay rusting on the floor.
Is this all?
Because it’s not what I expected
“Operation Mindcrime” was released in 1988 and “Empire” was released in 1990. Those two albums saw Queensryche move from a cult following to a global following.
After a decade of slogging it out, they had finally reached a level of fame that was deserved. That ring of brass was given, but a few years later it was rusting on the floor, because it wasn’t what they expected.
And it wasn’t only Queensryche who experienced success like this.
David Coverdale via Whitesnake had seen a decade of hard work lead to mega success in 1987 and again with the “Slip Of The Tongue” follow up. Coverdale then folded the band.
Metallica went from cult thrash metal act to a mainstream metal monolith. This in turn led to them trying to emulate the success and when it didn’t happen, addictions took over.
Motley Crue had seen a decade of drugs and sex pay off in the mega selling “Dr Feelgood” and a global tour that would eventually break the band up and kill their personal relationships.
Bon Jovi was no different, with album and your cycle which led to Jovi putting the band on hold after the “Jersey” tour.
Basically, any act that got a music video on constant rotation on MTV experienced success like this. And then they had to see if the riches they earned gave them what they really wanted.
Somewhere along the way
Friends I once held close fled the fast lane.
I didn’t notice, I just had to make it.
Head down, nose in the grindstone
In the quest to be somebody, as Blackie Lawless said, the people they knew got let down and forgotten. So when they’d return home and expected a victory parade, there was none. No one even cared.
The lyrics of “Stay Hungry” from Twisted Sister come to mind because it is a song about the drive to make it, so when Dee Snider sings, “expect no sympathy, there’s none to be had”. And there isn’t any sympathy. You made the decision to pursue this dream, this quest to be a rock and roll hero and your all friends have moved on because they got left behind.
Life’s been like
Dragging feet through sand,
And never finding,
The promised land isn’t what you thought it would be. Your marriage is crumbling, there is a dispute over assets and your thinking, my life was so much better off when it was less complicated.
But it wasn’t, because there is no safety net in life. And if you want conformity, expect death. And we are getting so much better at re-evaluating our mindsets, finding new ways to set goals and to create our own promised land. Not someone else’s.