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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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