Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Jet City Woman

It’s a Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate composition and another Queensryche single that clocks in over 5 minutes. It’s basically a love song and a road song rolled into one, but devoid of clichés and overused words. On the Japanese edition of “Empire”, Chris DeGarmo said that the song was inspired by “being on the road for a very long time and Geoff Tate was thinking about a woman he loves”.

In the December 1990 issue of Metal Edge, Geoff Tate basically said “”Jet City Woman is about a woman from Seattle.” Wikipedia tells the story that it was written about Geoff Tate’s first wife, who was a flight attendant

The song has so many mood changes that are absent from so many of today’s “hits”. Hell, the first 43 seconds of the song is all instrumental. In the FFDP/Shinedown world they would be into their second chorus by then.

INTRO A
0.00 to 0.07
The simple bass and high hats groove has me nodding my head almost instantly. It is not made for radio, but a radio hit it became.  It’s interesting how Eddie Jackson employs picks for the studio and uses his fingers for performing live. Using a pick, just brings out the mids so that the bass line stands out.

INTRO B
0.08 to 0.25
Then Chris DeGarmo comes in with a little lead break.

INTRO C
0.26 to 0.43
Then Michael Wilton comes in, with power chords crashing all around and the energy of the song picks up, with a lead break full of bluesy double stop bends. Check out the progressive way Scott Rockenfield drums this simple 4/4 section, especially towards the end as it phases from the intro into the verse.

I’m hooked by know.

VERSE 1
0.44 to 1.17
Then the verses come. The arpeggiated chords with the B and E as open strings, showed me a different way to play. Years later, I would learn that this method is something that Alex Lifeson employed a lot in Rush. Anyway, hearing the clean tone arpeggios, over the intro bass guitar line is familiar and new. Rockenfield makes the verses rock when they shouldn’t. For any drummer in the scene, listen and learn.

Every time I leave
You say you won’t be there.
And you’re always there.

The road songs are a dime a dozen. The best ones, live forever. “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Long Cold Winter” and “Turn The Page” are a few that come to mind immediately.

PRE CHORUS
1.18 to 1.33
The last word of the verse leads into the pre-chorus. Brilliant

Over a simple chord progression, I love the way DeGarmo and Wilton employ octaves to enhance this section. I never used power chord octaves prior to learning “Jet City Woman”.

What you do to me!
Waited so long I can’t wait another day without you.

CHORUS
1.34 to 1.52
There’s so much to learn as a guitarist in this chorus, like the phrasing of the power chords, the use of octaves to enhance the melody of the music and act as a counterpoint to the vocal melody, the way the drums groove and the bass locks in either with the drums or with the guitars.

Jet City Woman.
It’s a long way, home to my
Jet City Woman.
I see her face everywhere, can’t get her out of my mind.

1990 was an exciting time for bands who wanted to push boundaries. I had no idea that “Jet City” referred to Seattle. Listening to music and coming across unknown terms, led to research.

DOWNER SECTION
1.53 to 2.04
Back to the Intro B section lead guitar but this time with the arpeggios of the first verse.

By now, I was thinking, how the hell did this band ever open up for Metallica.  “Empire” was the only piece of music I had from them and three songs into the album, it was progressive pop rock, which is a far cry from Metallica’s technical thrash metal.

Then we are back to the verse and the song goes on.

GUITAR SOLO SECTION
3.38 to 4.12

A 30 second guitar solo is unheard of today from bands on the rock radio charts.

Tremonti and Alter Bridge are pushing some boundaries there. Sixx AM with DJ Ashba are also breaking out some shred. Avenged Sevenfold don’t mind going for a minute or two, however for the rest it’s like a 10 to 15 second section, if any. Unless you are on the fringes and have a cult following like Black Label Society, Evergrey, Protest The Hero and so forth. But this was a guitar solo from a band at their commercial peak.

“Jet City Woman” is a brilliant song that’s been completely forgotten. One YouTube user account has racked up 2,079,291 views. On Spotify, it has 1,525,122 streams. Compared to some of the junk songs that have over 100 million streams, these amounts come to nothing.

Megadeth’s “Symphony Of Destruction” has five times more streams than “Jet City Woman” and Megadeth didn’t sell anywhere near what Queensryche sold during the same period. It just goes to show that multi-platinum sales in the nineties mean nothing 20 years later if you don’t release music consistently and on occasions of a certain quality, the artist ends up a shadow of themselves or in some cases, they end up in the history books.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Best I Can – Chris DeGarmo

By the late eighties, Queensryche had broken through in the U.S, however failed to make a dent in the Australian market. I came across their name, when Dave Mustaine called them “Yuppie” metal in a Guitar World magazine, and Metallica had them opening on the “…And Justice For All” tour.

I wanted to hear their music. Records were expensive, so radio thrived. However Queensryche never got played on the radio in Australia. Then “Empire” came out and it was all over the record store. It was my first purchase of the band. A blind purchase based on the press I read.

“Best I Can” is the opening track of Queensryche’s biggest album. It clocks in at 5.30, which for the time was a rarity to have a song clock in over 4 minutes.

Chris DeGarmo is listed as the sole songwriter, in the same way, he is listed as the main songwriter on “Silent Lucidity”, the track that pushed the “Empire’ album to multi-platinum sales. So how do you follow-up your breakthrough album, which against the odds, was a concept album.

You follow it up with a kick ass rock album that tackles serious subject matter. And “Best I Can” has some serious issues to bring forth.

As DeGarmo once said in the October issue of RIP

“Empire was a change of direction, in that we just wrote about whatever it was we wanted to write about. It was all written while we were at home, so there’s a lot of inspiration from Seattle.”

In the Kerrang, June 1990 issue, Chris DeGarmo said the following for “Best I Can”;

“It’s about a young boy who has a tragic accident as a child, and has to overcome his handicaps to make something of his life, and overcome what others perceive to be a handicap. It’s a song, basically, about beating the odds.”

“Don’t worry, dear. He’ll never find the gun.”

And then, the ominous piano line kicks in and the child like operatic voices come in.

Brilliant.

Queensryche had my attention.

A child alone in daddy’s room
The gun was hidden here
No one home to catch me when I fall

Then the band kicks in. It’s a stop start of music and vocals, sort of like “Crying In The Rain” and “Still Of The Night” from Whitesnake but still it’s unique, it doesn’t sound like anyone else.

A young man now in a private chair
I’ve seen the world through a bitter stare
But my dream is still alive
I’m going to be the best I can

There is the positive message that DeGarmo is talking about. The dream to be somebody is still alive, regardless of the situation. We are always looking for more, not satisfied with what we have. And music always opened up my horizons. “Best I Can” isn’t mindless dancing and money music. It’s grim, truthful and hopeful.

Geoff Tate had the following to say in the December 1990 issue of Hit Parader;

“Best I Can touches on gun control, but it’s really the story of a young boy who gets shot and is paralysed. He just strives to be the best he can be – it’s really an upbeat story.”

Tate further elaborated on the song in the December 1990 issue of Metal Edge;

“Best I Can touches on gun control, how a young child finds a gun in his parents’ room, maims himself with it and becomes handicapped but doesn’t give into his handicap. He keeps pushing ahead to be a better person and achieve his goals.”

I want to be a busy man
I want to see a change in the future
I’m gonna make the best of what I have
I want to write for a magazine
I’m gonna be the best they’ve ever seen
I know I’ll win if I give it all I can

The piano groove is back and it’s magic.

The man in the chair and the man that’s in my dream
I’m going to melt the two men into one

Chris DeGarmo’s idea to tackle subjects so far removed from the hard rock infrastructure proved to be Queensryche’s X factor in the musical industry.

It’s worth noting that DeGarmo’s musical influence far exceeded the amount of units Queensryche moved.

He inspired legions of guitar players to step up and be more complete songwriters. If I look at my favourite guitarists from the Eighties, not many of them wrote any lyrics and vocal melodies. They wrote riffs and leads.

For all of Eddie’s innovative guitar playing, David Lee Roth and then Sammy Hagar had sole responsibility over the lyrics and vocal melodies. John Sykes’s biggest career songs are co-writes with David Coverdale and Phil Lynott. Randy Rhoads needed the magical words of Bob Daisley to bring his riffs to the masses. George Lynch needed Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown to write lyrics and vocal melodies for his riffs. And the list goes on.

But Chris DeGarmo didn’t need a vocalist to write a complete song. He wrote the vocal melodies, lyrics and music to “Best I Can” and of course to “Silent Lucidity” which proved to be Queensryche’s biggest song.

I see the influence of DeGarmo in another favourite of mine, John Petrucci from Dream Theater.

I see the influence of DeGarmo in different genres. In the mid-nineties, Fuel came out with Carl Bell on guitars and of course as the main songwriter. Once Carl Bell left Fuel, the same thing happened to Fuel as to Queensryche, after DeGarmo left.

And Chris DeGarmo gave it all he can and he won.

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Metal Without Limits

Hot Metal was a monthly Australian publication that I religiously purchased each month between 1989 and sometime towards the end of 1995.

The issue I am flicking through right now is the August 1991 issue.

In the mag there is an interview with Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton from Queensryche taking place during the “Empire” tour. The album by this time had moved over 1.6 million copies in the U.S and MTV had “Silent Lucidity” in constant rotation. By December of the same year, the RIAA would certify the album as 2x Platinum.

Chris DeGarmo interviews well. He comes up with a lot of good quotes and truths.

“Rock records seen to have these long legs. We learned that with Operation Mindcrime.”

So true. Rock and Metal records if done right just continue to stick around. While Pop might rule the airwaves and get the mainstream ink, rock and metal records just keep on sticking around. Let me rephrase that; the great rock and metal records just keep on sticking around.

Look at the Whitesnake 1987 album. It came out in March, 1987. By January 1988, it was certified Platinum x5 (for U.S sales). By July 1992 it was certified Platinum x6, By February 1995, it was certified Platinum x8. It just kept on sticking around almost 8 years after its release.

Go on Spotify and YouTube and you will see counts of 10 million plus for “Here I Go Again”, “Is This Love” and “Still Of The Night”. It’s still sticking around.

There is another issue from July 1989 that also caught my attention and that one has another interview with Chris DeGarmo;

“Who are Queensryche? Why, after years of slogging around, supporting everyone from Bon Jovi to Metallica, has “Operation Mindcrime” suddenly captured the imagination of a whole new world of listeners? “

They caught the mainstream by surprise with “Operation Mindcrime”. No one knew what to do with them. Chris DeGarmo was pressured in the interview to describe Queensryche’s brand of music. This was his answer.

“Hmmm, lets see, aggressive pop music? (laughs). No, I wouldn’t call it that. I guess it would be… metal without limits.”

Not too sure how many people read Guitar World. In a December 1991 issue Dave Mustaine referred to Queensryche as “Yuppie Metal” which I found hilarious. But you know what, DeGarmo is spot on with both of his definitions. How cool does “aggressive pop music” and “metal without limits” sound?

“Promised Land” was their real “metal without limit”s album. The overall sound was still rooted within the hard rock/metal genres, however there was a melancholy undertow simmering underneath that dabbled in different styles and song structures. It didn’t have a crossover hit single, but man, it has some killer moods.

It was very interesting how we had been out there working our asses off for the better part of a year and some people thought this new album had just come out.”

You see even back in 1992. getting the news out there was still a challenge. So when you add to that challenge all the noise that the internet creates, you can see that the difficulty in getting your name out there today has grown exponentially. And for any artist in the music game, getting your name out there is still the challenge. Not P2P.

“In a lot of people’s minds we are a new band and we have to get used to that.”

Spot on.

Hell, a lot of people thought that the 1987 Whitesnake album was Whitesnake’s first album. When I looked at the video clip for “Still Of The Night”, I couldn’t make sense why the album shows one guitarist and the video clip has two. The information travelled slow and for me in Australia it was tied up in expensive import magazines.

Bon Jovi broke out big with “Slippery When Wet” and when these new fans found out that “Slippery” was actually the bands third album, they started snapping up the back catalogue. By February 1987, “7800 Fahrenheit” was certified Platinum, while “Slippery When Wet” reached Platinum x6 at the same time.

For Queensryche, “Rage For Order” and “The Warning” achieved a Gold certification in 1991. And that is because of the “Empire” album and the success of “Silent Lucidity”.

Artists could be huge in certain states or countries however it didn’t mean that the whole world or even their own country knew about them. And this was in the era when the record labels controlled everything and even they couldn’t get the narrative out.

“It’s funny when someone comes up to you and says, ‘I heard that song “Silent Lucidity”. Do you guys have any more songs?’. You don’t want to insult them by saying, ‘Of course we do, you fool. We have been around for ages!’ How are they to know, when no one has ever played any of it?”

The importance of MTV during the eighties and the early nineties was astronomical for a band to get that instant payola. If their clip got constant rotation on the channel, then the platinum armies would come a knocking. So while “Eyes Of A Stranger” opened up the MTV door, it was “Jet City Woman”, “Another Rainy Night” and “Silent Lucidity” that took it to a whole new level. However, it was only those songs that MTV played, so if people didn’t go out and purchase the old catalogue how were they supposed to hear it.

“There wasn’t enough people into Queensryche to support coming to Australia. If we came we would like to bring the whole show, but we’re just not sure of our following there”. 

They never came to Australia during the height of their popularity. The first Queensryche album I got was a cassette recording of “Operation Mindcrime”. “Empire” by default became a blind purchase for me.

I watched Queensryche in 2009, a version of the band that was missing Chris DeGarmo. The venue was at 1500 capacity. The ticket cost $80. The tour was billed as songs from “Rage For Order”, “Empire” and “American Soldier”. It was enjoyable to watch and no time would we have known the bullshit that was going to come.

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Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Queensryche and The Voice Of Queensryche

Queensryche is a band that really influenced me. The vocal melodies, the song construction and the various ways the twin guitars connected, inter-played and complemented each other.

So it was sad to see that all of the news items on the split, the dirty laundry, the sub-par musical releases, the court battles and the private agreements have had more views and reads then the combined Queensryche recorded output since “Hear In The Now Frontier”.

Geoff Tate is now “The Voice Of Queensryche”. Let’s put it this way. That title is not going to bring in any extra fans for Geoff Tate. The only way new fans will invest in him is if the music “The Voice of Queensryche” releases is undeniable.

But Tate is not interested in winning new fans with great music. All he wanted was “Operation Mindcrime” so that any future exploitation of the album into a movie will be all of his to keep.

In relation to “The Voice” moniker, this is all about maintaining an income. It’s all about marketing a tour so that at least a 1000 people attend a show at $50 a ticket.

It’s got nothing to do with pleasing fans and it has nothing to do with gaining new fans.

What about the Todd LaTorre fronted version of Queensryche? That version will more or less recreate similar sound recordings of Queensryche’s past.

And how does Chris DeGarmo’s Queensryche legacy fit in with this “amicable” settlement?

David Lee Roth was fired from Van Halen and billed himself as David Lee Roth. Vince Neil left or was fired (depending on what version you believe) from Motley Crue and billed himself as Vince Neil.

Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden and billed himself as Bruce Dickinson. Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath and billed himself as Ozzy Osbourne. Even Ronnie James Dio billed his solo career under his own name without any references to Rainbow and Black Sabbath.

Because the fans know about their heroes musical roots and backgrounds. Because the fans just want their favourites to keep on creating. The fans don’t need a court order. The need great music.

Granted the court order is also in place for financial reasons and trademarks. And that is what music should not be about.

But that is what happens when music is held hostage to money. That is what happens when music comes second to maintaining the status quo.

The best “amicable” settlement/revenge that Geoff Tate could have given his ex-band mates was an undeniable album or song under his own name.

Nothing drives an enemy more insane than seeing that someone they hate winning.

Instead Geoff Tate delivered a crap album, with a crap mix and started ranting on stage about smartphones. As John Wayne once said, “life is hard and it’s harder if you’re stupid”.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Treating Fans Like Shit

What does Vito Bratta, Chris DeGarmo, Richie Sambora, Iron Maiden and Dream Theater have in common?

The top four searched items that bring people to the Destroyer Of Harmony site are as follows;
1. Vito Bratta or Vito Bratta 2013
2. Chris DeGarmo or Chris DeGarmo 2013
3. Live At Luna Park DVD (during the period of no information on the status of the release)
4. Richie Sambora

When someone types in Vito Bratta or Vito Bratta 2013 in Google, there is a very good chance they will end up at Destroyer of Harmony.

The posts on Vito Bratta are like are like a slow hit burner for the site. People are really interested to find out what he is doing. Since he doesn’t have a social media presence himself, it’s up to hard-core fans to keep his talent going. All I am doing is trying to connect the past with the present for Vito.

Isn’t it a coincidence that all the searched topics have a lot of question marks?

The Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora split was very vague and even though Richie Sambora said recently he just wanted to spend time with his daughter, Jon Bon Jovi still wants an explanation as stated in a recent interview he did with the Herald Sun.

“… he was never fired, we certainly have no animosity and when the tour is over he can come and see me and Tico and Dave and explain what happened.”

Fans want to know what the hell is going on. They want to know what their heroes are doing. We live in an information society, now more so than ever.

Vito Bratta is leaving money on the table here. The glory days of 1988 are long gone. The glory days of someone putting a sizeable offer on the table are also long gone. The “guarantee concept” is fading. Promoters are waking up. They are starting to look at different models.

There is no point in giving an artist $200,000 a show based on what they did twenty years ago. What are they worth today?

Vito Bratta touched on this “up front guarantee” when he did the Eddie Truck interview back in 2007. He was open to the idea of White Lion reforming; however he needed to know that if he left his house, there would be something there to keep the lights running and the bills paid. In other words he was looking for a guarantee and that was something a lot of the promoters did not want to do.

Mike Tramp does his normal thing, playing small venues and clubs, sharing in the takings with the owners. There is no guarantee in what he does however it is a source of income and it gets him out there, connecting with people.

No one is guaranteed of making it in the music business. That is the nature of art. It is subjective. People will either connect on a large-scale or a small-scale.

The bottom line is this; Vito Bratta has a hard-core fan base. It is a niche audience that is made up of Eighties Hard Rock fans and Guitar Enthusiasts. It is a market that has been waiting for a long time for something new and that is why his name is searched out every day.

Chris De Garmo is missed. There is no guarantee that if he remained in Queensryche everything would be rosy and of high quality. However with the current debacle with the two Queensryche bands and a looming court case over the name, the Queensryche fans are looking for a shining light in all of this. And that light is Chris DeGarmo. He got out before it all went south.

People want to know what his thoughts are on the two Queensryche bands that are doing the rounds. They want him to create new music. They want him to step back in and save the band name.

As with everything there is no guarantee that if he does step back in, it will all work. And that is the issue. Is Chris DeGarmo prepared to leave his family for something that is not guaranteed. If he had some data that could advise him, then maybe he could commit.

In my opinion, data is actually the biggest currency in the music business however it still remains relatively untapped.

Has anyone seen the data that Musicmetric puts out?

Iron Maiden is the most heavily BitTorrent’ed band in Brazil. Brazil is also one of the biggest file sharing countries. What does this data tell Iron Maiden? It tells them that they have fans in Brazil that love music. It tells Iron Maiden that they need to get Flight 666 to South America and turn these free file sharing fans into concert ticket paying fans.

Having the data available to track where a bands fan base is more vital and more important than how many units an artist sold from a recorded product.

Iron Maiden has not sold great numbers in South and Central America since Peer to Peer Sharing started. However, they have toured the continent on a yearly basis, selling out large stadiums in the process and heaps of merchandise as well.

In relation to Dream Theater, the whole Live at Luna Park DVD/CD/Blu-ray release was a debacle. The fans wanted answers. Their Facebook page had thousands of comments from fans, all asking what is happening with the DVD release. The responses went unanswered for about eight weeks before Dream Theater made any comment on the delays.

Up until 2005, Dream Theater more or less avoided South America due to the “what they wanted to be paid so that they can bring the full show vs. what the promoters wanted to pay”.

This is what Mike Portnoy had to say on South America, on the Ytse Jam Bootleg DVD live release of their Santiago, Chile performance that took place on June 12, 2005.

“..the promoters in South America were apprehensive to give us what we would normally get to put on a show not knowing what the turnouts would be like. So in order to finally do a proper tour of South America, we agreed to bite the bullet and strip down; do the tour completely barebones so the promoters could feel out what to expect on future tours.

Well, surely they must have been shocked (as were we) when 20,000 people showed up for our very first show in Santiago, Chile.”

There you go; both the promoters and the band had no idea about the size of the fan base. Dream Theater avoided South America due to a hunch. That hunch is “hey the guys are not moving a lot of sales in Brazil so that must mean that they have no fan base.” Even for 2005, this line of thinking was outdated.

There is change coming to the live business. It’s slow but it is happening. What is a ticket worth these days for a concert? Normally, a number is pulled from somewhere and the promoters go to market to see if the fans are willing to pay for it. If the tickets don’t sell, then discounting begins and that more or less alienates the true hard-core that paid top dollar up front.

This even happened to Dream Theater when they played Sydney on the Black Clouds tour. A fortnight before the show, the tickets went to half price, just so they could fill the venue (that more or less sold out two years prior).

In the end the fans are an artists best asset. Treat them with the respect they deserve and not like the rock star that is portrayed in the Protest The Hero song, Underbite.

Iron Maiden article http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/nov/29/iron-maiden-llp-stock-exchange

Jon Bon Jovi Herald Sun article http://m.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/music/jon-bon-jovi-reflects-on-his-latest-and-most-challenging-world-tour/story-fni0bvjn-1226771962259

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

Metal and Rock Quotes That Will Change The Way Artists Think

There is a post over at Music Think Tank called “12 Powerful Quotes That Could Change The Way You’re Promoting Your Music” that was written Lukas Camenzind.

You can read the quotes in the link. All the quotes are great.

Here are 10 of my favorite quotes that have the potential to change the way artists think (with a rock and metal flavor):

#1

“Unless you find another way of making money besides controlling copying, you will not last in the digital age.” – Ram Samudrala (in an article on the first “MP3 Summit” that appeared in the July 18, 1998 issue of Billboard.)

This quote forms part of a speech that was directed at the Record Labels in 1998. 15 years ago. The labels ignored the advice and went to war in 1999 against Napster and innovation.

Do you think they won? If anything they failed the artists that they claim to serve.

#2

“Some people get into this business for the attention, they want the babes or the money or the Porsche, but when we first got together we didn’t know that this was going to become a business. We were just friends who wanted to jam.” – Chris DeGarmo (Queensryche founder, ex guitarist and main songwriter)

Be in it for the right reasons.

#3

“Our web site is extremely interactive right now. We worked very hard on it in order to make it very fan orientated. There is so much stuff that you can do on our web site. We want to talk to fans. We want video blogs. Sell streams on there. You can talk to us personally.” – Brent Smith (Vocalist, Shinedown)

Your fans are your everything. Treat them with the respect they deserve. They are the only ones you are accountable too. Not managers, agents, labels or the press.

#4

“We owe everything we have to those of you that follow us and give us your love and devotion.” – Brent Walsh (I The Mighty band)

This is from a newer band in the scene. They get it. Fans are the only people bands and artist have to answer.

#5

“When I started, I decided to devote my life to it and not get sidetracked by all the other bullshit life has to offer.” – Cliff Burton (RIP) Bassist

There is no plan B for musicians. There is no safety net. Are you ready to fly?

#6

“The hell with the rules. If it sounds right, then it is.” – Eddie Van Halen

Songs don’t have to be Verse – Pre – Chorus. You don’t need to have the same verse riff each time the verse is played. Let your ears guide you. Those bands that have had a long career broke the rules.

#7

“One must feel strongly to make others feel strongly”
Paganini

If you don’t believe in what you are doing, how will others believe in you.

#8

“We view making it like it’s a finish line. It’s not. You never know what it’s going to be. You never know if you need to keep climbing or it’s a sheer drop down the other side. Sometimes it’s a plateau. Few of us have the Ozzy, Clapton, Billy Joel, Elton John careers, that go on for a lifetime. Most of ’em are a few years and thank you, you’re done.” Dee Snider, Vocalist, Twisted Sister

Making it is the start of the chase. That is when you need to keep on climbing in order to stay at the top. Vito Bratta struggled with this. Dee Snider struggled with it.

#9

“A band is a dysfunctional family. A brotherhood, a family business, and a renaissance-era-court. You’re room-mates in studio-apartment-on-wheels for years-at-a-time, 24-hours-a-day. Plus you’re in the pressure cooker of the spotlight, every move analyzed, read into, or attacked. Everybody wants something from you, everybody wants to be your friend, everybody loves you, everybody can do so-much-better-for-you-than-the-people-you-have-now. Some people try and turn you against each other, and everyone wants to take credit for your success.” – Robb Flynn (Machine Head)

The music industry is tough. Are you ready for it? Your best friend in the band will become your enemy, especially if you are the main songwriter.

#10

“To this day I don’t have a guitar idol. I have people who are my favorites.”– Randy Rhoads (RIP) Guitarist

Be influenced. Progress is derivative.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Semi Obscure Queensryche Songs

Queensryche appealed to me for a few reasons.
1. Insightful lyrics
2. Great messages and themes in the songs
3. Brilliant arrangements
4. Each album that they released with Chris DeGarmo followed my own musical taste changes.

Revolution Calling
With all the other great material on Operation Mindcrime, it was easy for Revolution Calling to slip under the radar. It is a dead set classic and it is the first real song that you hear when you press play on the Operation Mindcrime album. It’s lyrical take on money, power and corruption is brilliant. It is written by Michael Wilton and Geoff Tate.

In relation to the Operation Mindcrime concept, Revolution Calling is a flashback for the main character Nikki who realises how he has been indoctrinated by Dr X through his speeches.

Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C.
It’s just a power mad town
But the time is ripe for changes
There’s a growing feeling
That taking a chance on a new kind of vision is due

Operation Mindcrime came out in 1988. Fast forward to when the financial meltdown happened in 2008. Did anything really change in the corridors of power?

I used to trust the media
To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
But now I’ve seen the payoffs
Everywhere I look
Who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?

The media was once a beacon of honesty, keeping politicians honest. Now the media is just another corporation, that needs to make profits for investors and shareholders. When making money is the name of the game, the stories change. Apart from reporting on real tragic events, like a natural disaster or a shooting or a bombing, the media’s news items are all sourced from newspapers and social media.

I guess Warhol wasn’t wrong
Fame fifteen minutes long
Everyone’s using everybody, making the sale

Geoff Tate really went to town on this song. The way the lyrics flow to tell the story of American life is just brilliant. It’s like he looked into a crystal ball and saw into the future. Has anything changed from 1988? People are still using each other and still trying to make the sale in the name of wealth.

But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives
Gotta make a million doesn’t matter who dies

Another take on this, is “Now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives, gotta keep my millions it doesn’t matter who dies”. When the GFC hit, did the One Percenters take the hit. Nope they sure didn’t, they even got bailed out by the Government. It was the poor and the middle class that took the hit. They are the ones that lost their jobs, their homes and their savings.

I still need to kick myself to remember that this was released in 1988. This was a time when hard rock was ruled by glam bands intent on living the Guns N Roses and Motley Crue lifestyle. For Queensryche to even go down a concept album path with Operation Mindcrime is a risk that paid off. Geoff Tate summed up his feelings on the state of American capitalism and corruption in Spreading the Disease;

Religion and sex are power plays,
Manipulate the people for the money they pay.
Selling skin, selling God
The numbers look the same on their credit cards
Politicians say no to drugs
While we pay for wars in South America
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get fat and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to look away
As the one percent rules America

Again fast forward to 2008 and the whole Occupy Wall Street movement was against the one percent of people that rule America.

Resistance
It is written by Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton. In a Guitar World interview, Chris DeGarmo had the following to say about the song;

“Resistance (the song) didn’t even exist before we went into the studio. Michael had a real, cool, aggressive piece of music. He played this thing for me and I helped arrange it so that it seemed like we had something of a cohesive musical arrangement. We tracked it and had a melody together. It took only a second for [drummer] Scott “One Take” Rockenfield to blaze off his track. In the end, we came out with a really powerful song which wouldn’t have made it on the record had we not risked it. And we’d never written a song from scratch in the studio before. We thought it was the complete reverse of the way we work, because we communicate very thoroughly on song ideas before we actually record them.”

In my view Chris DeGarmo should also be getting a writing credit for this song. Arranging musical pieces into a song, is an active contribution to the final product, regardless if he came up with the music or not. I am sure that Lars Ulrich doesn’t come up with any music, however his name is on every Metallica song. That is because, he is an active contributor to the arrangement.

So what is the song about?

Queensryche always touched on themes far removed from the typical hard rock themes. For Resistance, Geoff Tate is singing about the environment and the world in general. The common theme of this is our world, we all share it, we need to stop abusing it, we need to stop neglecting it and we need to co-operate in trying to save it.

Protests in New York
Listen to the call of the wild
Brother, sisters carrying signs
Breathe deep before it’s too late
The sky is falling, burning your eyes

I believe that the actual lyric relates to the Anti-Nuclear Protests that happened in New York City in 1979 and 1982. The lyric of “Breathe deep, before it’s too late, the sky is falling, burning your eyes” supports this viewpoint.

Hearing Resistance today, these first five lines bring back memories of the Occupy Wall Street Protests post GFC. Isn’t it funny how nuclear weapons don’t bother us anymore, however the zeroes in our bank accounts do.

Thank the Lord, daddy’s working 8-5
Paying the doctor, baby’s got cancer

This what so many of us do. We do what it takes so that we can take care of our families. Like the lyric in Revolution Calling, “the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives.

Look around at what we’ve been given
Maybe we’ve taken too long

Anyone seen the movie Soylent Green. Eventually our resources will end. What comes next?

Promised Land
It is written by the whole band. That’s right, Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield.

Everyone has to consider what the promised land is for them. Society is quick to define success as having houses, cars and money. Is that everyone’s definition of success? It’s not mine. Our own promised land is there for each of us to discover.

Standing neck deep in life
My ring of brass lay rusting on the floor, is this all?
‘Cause it’s not what I expected

What a way to define the accumulation of money. It’s laying all over the floor and it’s rusting away. Success is all about how much money you have accumulated. It’s a very shallow definition for what success is. Making it isn’t about having houses and cars and money.

People and artists that get caught up focusing on that aspect, will end up obsessed with it. Me personally I would rather appreciate being alive each day. I may not have a lot of money however I am content with my life and who I am inside.

Somewhere along the way
Friends I once held close fled in the fast lane
I didn’t notice, I just had to make it

This is the part that refers to making it. I see this as, in the quest to “make it”, the past relationships they had, disappeared. The sad thing is, they didn’t even notice it, which leads me back to my previous point, that if you are caught up focusing on accumulating houses, cars and money, you become obsessed with it and end up missing out on life in general.

Where did it all go wrong?
I feel like I’m dying.
Here’s to love, to hate, to promises and Promised Land lies.

Does success equal happiness? This is what Geoff Tate had to say about it in an interview with Raw Magazine in November 1994.

“Everything about our society is based upon consumerism and selling. Having that as the main reason to exist seems so shallow.”

Geoff Tate further expanded on the song with the remastered CD linear notes in 2003.

“Reaching the Promised Land is a metaphor for obtaining the American Dream of prosperity, materialism and the happiness one derives from the ownership of things. The manufactured image constantly sold to us that materialism will make us happy is, I suppose, the only real thing in our society of stimulation and consumption.”

My father used the term Broken Promised Land a lot. After the GFC crisis, I thought of this song from Queensryche, and wrote a song called Broken Promised Land.

Bridge

It is a song written by Chris DeGarmo. This is what Chris DeGarmo had to say on the subject in an AOL interview;

“He passed away while we were recording “Promised Land” but prior to that he had seen what had happened with the band up through “Empire.” I loved my father. I just didn’t know him and I think he got to a point in his life where he started realizing the things that were really important to him. Recognizing some mistakes and some regrets, but also experiencing a bit of denial, almost like nothing happened and that’s what spawned the ideas in “Bridge.” How relationships need to be built particularly the parent/child relationship. All the best relationships have a real foundation to them of love, trust and respect. Without those building blocks they really don’t reach the area of the very, very special relationship.”

Chris DeGarmo, Dave Mustaine, Robb Flynn, Nikki Sixx and Corey Taylor. All of them wounded and abandoned by a father. All of them turning to music and seen as heroes to a generation.

Time has made you finally realize
your loneliness and your guilt inside.
You’re reaching for something you never had,
turning around now you’re looking back,
and you know… I’m not there.

You say, “Son, let’s forget the past.
I want another chance, gonna make it last.”
You’re begging me for a brand new start,
trying to mend a bridge that’s been blown apart,
but you know… you never built it dad.

You can feel the anger, the disappointment. It’s like Cats in The Cradle, however this is rawer. On the silver screen it eventually ends on a happy note, well, real life is not the movies. This saga didn’t end on a “lets ride into the sunset moment.” Hearing this song, back in 1994, I felt sorry for Chris DeGarmo. Hearing this song today, there is a different feeling. There is anger at the father for walking away, as I am a father to three boys, and I cannot imagine doing that.

Secondly, as a father, you sort of expect that if you reach out to your own children, that they would welcome you back with open arms, regardless of what transpired before. You sort of believe that by saying SORRY, everything will be forgiven and life will go on as normal.

Imagine the shock that Chris DeGarmo’s dad would have felt when his son said, sorry, I’m not interested in reconciling. It is a total different song to Things My Father Said by Black Stone Cherry.

Someone Else (with full band version)
It is written by Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate. I don’t know who pulled the plug on this version, however it is a big mistake. This is Operation Mindcrime/Empire era right here. The connection to the old Queensrcyhe while still forging ahead with a new Nineties version of Queensryche.

This is what Chris DeGarmo had to say on the song in a Kerrang interview from September 1994.

“That’s Geoff looking at a part of him which he’s re-evaluated. He’s got to grips with a certain part of his life that’s now focused in a new direction. I think he’s recognised that when he was younger his career, himself, and what he was going to do was of sole importance, and that he didn’t spend as much time thinking about his family and the relationships around him. I think he’s had another look at that and has realised it was another person and that he can’t relate to that way of thinking anymore.”

Here I stand at the crossroad’s edge
Afraid to reach out for eternity
One step when I look down
I see someone else, not me

The whole song has the lyric “someone else, not me” and right at the end it says that someone else is me.

All my life they said I was going down
But I’m still standing stronger proud
And today I know, there’s so much more I can be
I think I finally understand

One More Time
It is written by Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate.

Behind my eyes I keep my truth from you
No one enters this secret place,
The barrier only I embrace

Life will get too complicated if we shared our problems and fears with others. Dave Mustaine even sang about A Secret Place on Cryptic Writings. Even Tesla sang about sharing secrets on the song In A Hole Again from their 2008 album, Forever More.

When I am driving home from work and I have the music cranked, that is my secret place. How good are the stereo systems in cars these days. Actually how good is the insulation in cars. You can’t even hear the outside traffic when you are in the car.

Work hard in life boy,
There’s paradise in the end
Year after year we struggle to gain
The happiness our parents never claimed
They told us all we had to do
Was do what we’re told, buy what was sold,
“Invest in gold, and never get old”

Remember this is 1994. So what did we do? We kept on investing and we kept on falling more and more into debt until it all exploded in 2008. If we had ONE MORE TIME AROUND, would we do the same mistakes?

Reach
It is written by Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton. It is the only writing credit for Michael Wilton and it is probably the best song on Hear In The Now Frontier. Chris DeGarmo said that the song is about finding one’s self.

Geoff Tate said in a recent 2013 interview with DigBoston.com that Hear In The Now Frontier was a record that was very difficult to work on. From the Chris DeGarmo era, this is the only one he listed as difficult. The other albums he listed The Tribe and Operation Mindcrime II are post DeGarmo.

I know where I’m going,
and I’ve got all my cards showing

Intentionally showing your move, letting others into your world. Is this Tate saying to DeGarmo, I am not into Queensryche at this point in time. I need another break.

Armed with time on my side
and a field of vision miles wide
I’ll keep searching for some meaning
whatever makes me feel alive

Aren’t we all searching for something to make us feel alive. Just because Queensryche had made it, it doesn’t mean that behind closed doors it was all high fives and smiles. In the end a band is made up of people, who have lives. I know that if my private life is all messed up, my work life is off. You need to feel good in both mediums to excel, otherwise it is miserable. That is why so many heroes turn to different vices, just to numb the mental pain they are in.

Today I felt something so strong
It took my breath away
Now I long to live like this every day
I’ll find it some way

You know that moment in time when you see something and it destroys everything that you have known until then. It shatters the walls around you, awakening some suppressed primal emotion.

Right Side Of My Mind
After Chris DeGarmo left, the next album had the motto that all songs are written and composed by Queensryche. So in this case it’s Geoff Tate, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, Kelly Gray and Scott Rockenfield. It is a great Queensryche song, on a very poor album called Q2K released in 1999.

If you take time and look for clues
Scrape the shit off your shoes,
You’ll feel the real today

I’d love to take you to see what I see there, on the right side of my mind

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