Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Love Heavy Metal from the '80's and Early 90's...Pt. I: In the Beginning

In the beginning
Good always overpowered the evils
Of all man's sins...
But in time
The nations grew weak
And our cities fell to slums
While evil stood strong
In the dusts of hell
Lurked the blackest of hates
For he whom they feared
Awaited them... Now many many lifetimes later
Lay destroyed, beaten down,
Only the corpses of rebels
Ashes of dreams
And blood stained streets
It has been written that
"Those who have the youth
Have the future"
So come now, children of the beast
Be strong
And Shout at the Devil...

-Nikki Sixx

Heavy Metal saved my life. I know it sounds silly, melodramatic, crazy, but that doesn't make it any less true. To understand this, there are two things you need to know about me: 1., I am an addict. I have that thing in my brain that turns something I love into a preoccupation, and that preoccupation turns into obsession, and then obsession turns into desperate need. It started at an extremely young age. My first jones was for action figures. I loved those little plastic men with all of my heart. The actual accumulation of the toys was secondary. Don't get me wrong, obtaining "Battle-Action Armor He-Man" was kick-ass, but plotting, planning, dwelling on the figure was far more appealing. I would look at the tiny comic books or the box-backs where other available figures were displayed, and I would dream about them. I would imagine the epic battles that could take place. I was addicted to action figures. I was three, three fucking years old and this was how I spent my time. Insane, I know, because let's face it, I'm at least a tiny bit nuts, whatever...

2., I am lazy. Having too many things to do makes me mentally shut down. Oh, I get those things done, I'm just so angry about being a "functioning, productive, responsible" human being that in order to accomplish any of the things necessary to call myself an "adult", I have to go on auto-pilot lest my already unstable mind be pushed even further into Loonyland. This also means that if I want to actually get done the things i set in front of myself, I have to be realistic and not put too much on my plate at any given time. I have to make things manageable or I will instead manage to get nothing done.

"So just how did Metal save my life exactly?", you ask. The answer is simple; Heavy Metal quickly became the addiction. That addiction (eventually) turned into a full blown to music period, a monkey I still carry on my back to this day (don't worry, it will soon all make sense). It's like any addiction story you've ever heard, the first taste made me want, the second one made me need.

The story goes that my brother went on a school trip to Toronto and wanted to get everyone souvenirs. He asked me what I wanted Toronto, and after seeing the video for the lead-off single from Ronnie James Dio's first solo album, a recently four-year old Brandon asked if Toronto had "Rainbow in the Dark"?, because if they did, that's what I wanted. I wanted "Rainbow in the Dark". Being a good big brother, Scott came home with a copy of Dio's "Holy Diver" on cassette. But it wasn't until four months later when Mötley Crüe's second record "Shout at the Devil" came out that I was truly hooked.

I saw the video for "Looks that Kill" (two videos...does that make MTV my pusher?) and I needed it. But see, this time it was 100% different. Four-year old Brandon had a rather wild and overactive imagination that often, for one reason or another, turned to the macabre. I was scared of a whole mess of stuff and it didn't take much to set me off. I refused to go down the cereal isle at Meijer because they had Kiss puffy stickers and painted up Gene Simmons sent me reeling. If I saw those stickers, there was a good chance I wouldn't be sleeping that night. It was a fucking sticker. I was scared of a sticker. Don't ask me, because I have no idea. All I know is I avoided the cereal isle like the plague, but I digress. "Looks that Kill" was the most amazing thing that had ever touched my ears. The guitar part for the chorus was the most brilliant thing I had ever heard (to this day I still think it's one of the most inspired licks in history).

But Mick Mars; my God, I had never seen a living soul more terror-inspiring than him. Simmons be damned, Mars was grade A, #1, "I'm going to puke and pee at the same time because I'm so scared" material. I was convinced this guy ate children. He ate little one's for breakfast and lunch and a bigger one from dinner. And there was no doubt in my mind that he was like a spider; he liked his meals alive. And what's worse, I was on the menu.

I could picture it in my mind; I would be roused from a dead sleep to the sound of awesome guitar being played just outside my bedroom window, and the righteous tuneage would pull me outside like a moth to a flame. He would lull me with increasingly sweet licks and then when I was at my most mesmerized, he would precede to devour me whole, leaving nothing but a pile of little bones. It was going to happen unless I could just forget about the Crüe. If I could just stop loving the song, if I could stop wanting the tape, all I had to do was not listen to Mötley Crüe and I would slip off his radar. But I couldn't, it was just too damn good. In the face of death, and a particularly gruesome one at that, I still wanted Shout at the Devil. Consequences were no longer a factor. Death did not matter, not if it meant I could rock out to the Crüe. So instead of doing the smart thing and denouncing the supreme sweetness that was Mötley Crüe and live, I chose to love the Crüe for my few remaining days and die an early death.

Mick Mars never showed up to eat me which was awesome. But from that point on, I was a Metalhead in the worst way. Mötley Crüe gave way to Poison, who gave way to Def Leppard, who gave way to Tesla, who gave way to Metallica, who gave way to Queensrÿche, who gave way to Anthrax, Megadeth, Death Angel, and a virtual ton of other bands. But see, here's the point; addiction's hard work. If you think otherwise, you clearly are not an addict. Getting addicted to something isn't all that hard, but maintaining said addiction is complicated and exhausting. And with each new addiction, the maintenance grows all the more tasking. But as I said, I'm lazy. Trying to maintain multiple addictions is tough work, and seeing as how I hate work, I've had to pick only the most important things to become/remain addicted to.

As a kid, it was action figures and Heavy Metal. By around age seven or eight, I added soda-pop into the repertoire. As I got older, pop continued to stay strong and action figures were replaced by boobs. Eventually I added a love/hate, on-again/off-again relationship with tobacco, but the only constant, absolutely necessary addiction has remained music. You see, without music, there would have been room for booze or drugs. I tried my best to be a fan of drugs but they were just too much work. Finding someone to buy them from, finding money to buy them. I had to buy Super-Big Gulps and cd's and my seasonal outdoor maintenance money only went so far. On top of that, the work of returning home after doing the drugs and appearing "straight" was way too much for a louse such as myself. Not to mention they made me feel fuzzy and stupid.

And booze, well alcohol is a fantastic stress-reliever/vice ( I am actually drinking a finely brewed Busch Light beer from an all too classy aluminum can as I write this) but just as it was/is with narcotics, finding the extra money to purchase the delicious ales and lagers I enjoy so much is simply too much extra expended energy. I have records to buy and I only make so much money, and I find nearly all distilled liquids to be vile concoctions, even the quality, pricey ones make my stomach quake and quiver a little, so the cheap ones are simply out of the question. That's not even figuring hangovers into the equation. So booze is, addictionaly speaking, absolutely a "no-go".

But here's the thing...if you take Metal out of my life, you take away the sum and total of music as well and then a huge "addiction space" opens up. Without that early addiction to Metal, I can guarantee you I'd either be an alcoholic or dope-fiend. And although smokes certainly aren't "life-friendly", without Metal, I'd be on an even faster track to Deadsville. This, my friends is how Heavy Metal saved my life, and I will be eternally grateful to the Gods of Rock for bestowing it upon me.

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