My Heavy Metal week
It’s been an oddly nostalgia ridden week and a half or so for ancient heavy metal and me. For some reason the 80’s has been reborn in media recently and it’s all landed in my vision this week. In 1983 while in High school I heard Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil and became a fan. It was, as they say, all downhill from there 😉 . I eagerly grabbed each new issue of Hit Parader and Circus magazines, and started gobbling up all the metal cassettes I read about. By the middle of grade 11 I was a full fledged skid, with the Iron Maiden tee shirt and the jean jacket and everything. If you’ve ever heard Wheatus’s song Teenage Dirtbag, I was that kid…the “two tickets to Iron Maiden, babeeee” and all (er…except the part at the end where the girl actually likes him…that never happened 🙂 ). The latter half of the 80’s was a depressing morass of crappy derivative bands and sounds (with a few exceptions like Metallica and Guns n Roses) and I experimented with alternate music forms, becoming a big fan of the punk, goth, alternative rock and classic rock genres. Even though those types of music tend to have mutually exclusive fan bases from each other, I was a fan of all of them, and to this day listen to music from various genres. It was definitely a benefit to have that wide range of influences when I got into the 90’s music scene in Vancouver.
Anyways, I digress. Last monday I was in a pub and they were playing Sammy Hagars only good song “Heavy Metal” from the 1981 movie’s soundtrack. Nostalgia rolled in. Tuesday for some reason Much More Music was playing the video from Looks that Kill, possibly the lamest rock video ever that’s considered a classic. Wednesday I was on the plane to New York and between bouts of working, I spent some time reading “Fargo Rock City” by Chuck Closterman. There were so many points in that book that I actually started laughing cuz it was like “yeah…that was sooo me” or “Hehe I totally knew that guy!” I grew up in a prairie town not dissimilar to what I imagine Fargo North Dakota to have been like, so I can totally relate to being a “metalhead” in a small town in the 80’s. I was a little older than Closterman, but really the experiences he speaks about in his book are not much different from mine.
Friday on the trip home our plane was stuck on the tarmac at LaGuardia for a while. It had the seatback TV’s and they turned on the entertainment system so I decided to watch “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey” while waiting for movement. Sam Dunn who produced, wrote and narrates this documentary is an anthropologist from Victoria, and put a distinctly Canadian spin on being a metal fan. The movie was great, and again, I had a few chuckles as I recognized my geeky self and others that I knew or know in the movie. Headbangers Journey gets alot more into various different genres of hard rock and breaks down the “family tree” of metal. From a musical standpoint, the movie was even more in line with the last 25 years or so of my life than Fargo Rock City as it goes into the various sub-styles and goes into todays music as well. Unfortunately I was not able to watch the last15 or 20 minutes as the plane was landing in Toronto and they turned off the entertainment system.
Between the book and the movie I was able to re-visit a pretty exciting time in my life and get a bit nostalgic. It was kind of cool to read about or see band names that I haven’t heard or thought of in years, and in Closterman’s book in particular, find that we both kind of picked the same bands as the top of their genres. Sam Dunn also seems to have some similar opinions on good vs bad as I did/do.
So last weekend, the closer…I found the movie Heavy Metal on TV, thus completing my nostalgia metal circle. Of course I watched it, beer in hand, remembering what seems now to have been a much simpler time of my life. Everything was kind of black and white back then…it was good or it wasn’t. Metal was good, pop was not. Motley Crue was good, Warrant was not. Iron Maiden was good, Grim Reaper was not. Hockey was good, baseball was not. Cool people were good, assmonkeys were not. I guess alot of things haven’t really changed that way, just the soundtrack itself. Slipknot is good, The Killers are not.