Music, My Stories

Are We Fans Of The Music Or The Artist or Both?

I never looked to music for the artists. I would wake up and say, I gotta play this song or that song.

I listened and became a fan of hard rock music because the lyrics resonated and gave me something to believe in. The message was in the songs and as a kid growing up, music which was aggressive and laced with attitude, was screaming for attention.

As a by-product of all of these different reasons, I would then follow the artist who wrote those songs and I would consume their other releases.

But eventually I would fall out with the artist because they ceased to connect with me. And sometimes I would fall back in.

And it didn’t matter who was the best player. It never was about that. All the biggest acts didn’t have the most technical players and singers. But they could write.

And if they couldn’t write anymore or they ran out of ideas, then outside writers would come in to assist them. Like Aerosmith, Kiss, Ozzy and Bon Jovi just to name a few. At least no one was assisting Tom Keifer. But the again Keifer disappeared for a decade and a bit, while the other acts continued.

I was listening to “Blizzard Of Ozz” and it never was a hit record. Hit records were irrelevant back then, and only became relevant when MTV became dominant and people tried to rewrite history. The artist sustained their careers because we believed in their message. And who wrote the message is still disputed when it comes to Ozzy. Bob Daisley says he wrote em.

Some artists break the mold and lead us into new sounds and territories while others capitalize on the mold.

Love em or hate em, but you can’t deny Motley Crue and how “Dr Feelgood” took the sonics of heavy rock and made it heavier and punchier, something that got James and Lars very interested. And it took a pop rock producer called Bob Rock to deliver this. He’s a star. He paved the way for other heavier bands to dominate the charts.

Want to talk about stars?

How about Dee Snider?

He said what he thought, and he poured his passion into efforts like free speech. And he got ostracized for it by people tied to the hip to the record label. Like Lars Ulrich and his Napster crusade a 14 plus years later

People like Dee Snider appear in our lives to tests the limits, and not shy away from them. And he got stiffed by the labels during the heyday of hard rock on MTV between 1988 and 1991 because of it.

Artists from back in the day did not kiss ass. Ask Roger Waters. He was his own singularity. He would deliver the album when he decided it was ready. Not when the record label rep said it was ready. Or his Pink Floyd band mates. Or when John Kalodner said it was ready. Although I must admit I am a fan of albums that John Kalodner was involved in.

Axl Rose is a star. He did shit in his own way. He wrote with whoever he wanted and rejected all the norms of the record and tour cycle. But every star is subject to hate and criticism.

The key is not to give in to the pressure.

Kind of like Michael Jordan.

He had the skill, but so did many other players of his era like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone. His performance under pressure, and executing the correct skill under pressure and when the trophy was on the line, well that’s special. A separate skill that is developed with experience. It takes time. It takes some pain and some hurt.

But when he retired, people didn’t stop following the Bulls and those NBA championships he won sustained like good songs. Enough to get a new lease of life via “The Last Dance” documentary on Netflix.

And even though the artists haven’t had the same public acceptance as their earlier songs, those songs that sustain.

So music and lyrics got me interested, eventually I became a fan of the artist and moved in and out of between just liking the song or just liking the artist or both.

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

The Work Of The Devil

It’s funny how originally rock and roll, then blues rock, then heavy metal, then hard/glam rock, then thrash metal and so on were seen as the work of the devil.

Growing up, I wore my heavy metal and hard rock T-shirts with pride, ready to defend myself if anyone decided to have a dig. Thankfully I didn’t have a situation like that present itself.

Growing up in a city that employed thousands upon thousands at the local steelworks, the majority of the children of those workers were all metal and rock heads. Plus by wearing the colours of your favourite band, by default people just saw you as dangerous.

In other words, if I wore an Iron Maiden “The Number Of The Beast” t-shirt or a Motley Crue “Shout At The Devil” t-shirt it was a shorthand way of informing the public to not mess with me.

I know in my circle of friends, we all came from religious backgrounds. All of us are baptised.

Crucifixes, Mother Mary and Jesus Christ ornaments decorated our walls and cabinets. My olds were cool however they also had very conservative friends who kept on judging them for the musical tastes of their children.

But my Dad, he is a deadest legend. He allowed me to be who I wanted to be growing up, giving me a hell of a lot of freedom. He was a musician as well so he understood my mantra of “music being my religion” and when he would come home from a gig he would have about $500 to $1500 in cash on him.

The usual routine was that he would hand over the cash to me to count and then he would give me a couple of twenties for my efforts. Of course those twenty-dollar notes went straight into the cash till at the local record shop the next day. I was a music junkie, consuming the expensive U.S magazines and whatever vinyl I could get my hands on.

My Dad would talk to me about the family name, our history, what it means to have a good reputation and the most important lesson was that people will judge you no matter what you do. He said that if I conform to what others want me to be, people will still judge me. If I remain true to myself and be who I want to be, people will still judge me. He said if you fail in life there will be people there ready to talk about you and to throw more mud in your face. He said that if I am happy then there will people there ready to drag me down into the same hole that they live in.

And every time we spoke about matters like these I always had a song in the back of my head that connected with the message. That is why I gravitated to metal and rock music. The messages connected.

“Stand Up And Shout” from Dio. You see as good as “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line” are it was the more simpler lyrical songs from Dio that really connected with audiences, like “Stand Up And Shout”.

It’s the same old song
You’ve got to be somewhere at sometime
And they never let you fly

The daily grind, the nine to five. How can we fly and reach for the sky when we always have to be somewhere each day and do the same old song and dance. Credit Jimmy Bain for the great riffs.

“I Believe In Rock And Roll” from Twisted Sister’s “Come Out And Play” album. A very underrated album and “I Believe In Rock And Roll” is one such song that hasn’t been given it’s proper due.

Every day
I work so hard
Every day
I’m dealt the cards
Every day
I’m told exactly what to do
Every day
I lose control
Every day
I rock ‘n’ roll
Every day
It’s gonna help to see me through

Dee Snider sure knows how to tell it. If anyone tells you that their days are not like the above, then they are liars.  The first six lines deal with the daily grind, the nine to five routine. It was a common theme in the Eighties. Then the next six lines deal with music and how it helps get through the days.

“I Wanna Be Somebody” from WASP. Blackie Lawless is a great songwriter and WASP has a special place in my heart. The pinnacle to me was “The Crimson Idol” however “The Last Command” and the debut album are not that far behind.

You’re nobody’s slave, nobody’s chains are holdin’ you
You hold your fist up high,
And rule the zoo

Conformity is a disease. If you don’t believe me then look at the symptoms. You are alive but mentally chained to some ideal pushed on you and you don’t know if its a good ideal or a bad ideal. In the end, we should all bang our heads and use our fists to break down the walls.

(P.S. Do you like what I did there, merging WASP, with Quiet Riot and Motley Crue.)

“You’re No Different” from the “Bark At The Moon” album by Ozzy Osbourne. Bob Daisley wrote some excellent lyrics about Ozzy’s reputation and how people judge him.

Everything that I say and do
In your eyes is always wrong
Tell me where do I belong
In a sick society

You’re no different to me

The judgemental people can put themselves up on some imaginary pedestal but in the end they are as pathetic as the rest of the us. We are all no different to each other. We all end up in the same prison with a tombstone above our heads. Let’s see them judge other’s then.

And how good is that outro. It reminds me of the “Escape From New York” theme, while Jake E.Lee starts to unleash.

“Fighting The World” from Manowar. Founder Joey Demaio always had a song about metal and brotherhood. This one is a classic in my eyes.

Now people keep asking if we’re going to change
I look’em in the eye
Tell’em no way
Stripes on a tiger don’t wash away
Manowar’s made of steel not clay

I must admit I always found Manowar’s lyrics laughable because they delivered them so seriously. But seriously who else could get away with a lyrical line, “stripes on a tiger don’t wash away, Manowar’s made of steel not clay.”

Brilliant and perfect for the times.  And then the call to arms with the marching drums;

Fight for a living – Fighting the World