Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I would like to rock, please.

On my way home from work, I was listening to Pretty Maids, and "We Came To Rock" came on.
Man, it'd been a while since I heard a song about rockin'.
Remember when they used to play those all the time?
Pretty Maids, in fact, was from that era. The group was one of those metal bands of the 1980s I tended to specialize in, a fairly unknown band that I discovered on Headbanger's Ball that was the last video of the night, something to fill time between the phone sex commercials.
(Getting to watch"Headbanger's Ball" was a special treat. My parents did not get cable until I was well into high school, which they probably did to prevent me from watching too much TV, but actually the result was I watched too many reruns of "WKRP in Cincinatti" and played more Atari 2600. I think I caught Pretty Maids at my grandmother's.)
The band actually had a major label deal, signed to the same company as Europe, and the first record was good enough for me to keep it when I did a clearinghouse of much of the crap I had accumulated through the 80s. "Future World," the band's only (minor) hit, is still a great song.
Wow, that was quite a tangent.
Anyway, bands exactly like Pretty Maids were not polished songwriters, and as a result, most every album that came out during that era had a song about rockin'. Because, really, when you're a metal band from the 80s, even if you weren't hair metal necessarily, you pretty much wrote about chicks, maybe a few drugs, expensive cars or the lifestyle and, when those reservoirs were tapped, you wrote about rockin'.
Even some of the best bands from that era well, you know, rocked. Twisted Sister wanted to rock. Def Leppard wrote about a rock of ages and wanted to get rocked. AC/DC said rock and roll was not noise pollution, saluted those who were about to rock and just last year sang about a rock and roll train (but that band gets a pass because AC/DC's sound never really has changed much, even with two different lead singers, and that's actually one of its charms).
Rockin' was not limited to hard rock or metal. Huey Lewis and the News was not that great of a band (no it wasn't), but Lewis did sing about the heart of rock and roll.
And if you think this was just an unfortunate 80s thing, like big bangs and T-shirts with overcoats and hunks named Corey, well, you're wrong. Led Zep, the seminal band of the 70s, said it was a long time before they rock and rolled.
So what the hell happened? Well, I've got a friend who likes to blame Nirvana for the decline of music. I don't agree. I liked Nirvana. But he's right about one thing. Music was no longer about rockin'.
Nirvana wrote about feeling stupid and rape and coming as you are (and even that wasn't as fun as it sounded). Soundgarden seems like a band that could write about rockin', and maybe it did, though I only remember tunes about black hole suns and black days and rusty cages. Stone Temple Pilots probably should have written about rockin' but wrote some good songs and a bunch of crappy songs, and both groups honestly made no sense at all.
Even today, rock and roll doesn't seem to be about rockin' any longer. Part of me honestly likes this. I'd rather a band try to address something intelligent. That's one of the reasons Iron Maiden will always be one of my favorite bands. You'd hear about historic battles with the Russians and the pilots of World War II and a strange song about Alexander The Great and topics like being afraid to shoot strangers.
I'm hardly a party animal. I'm pretty serious a good portion of the time. I never really watch popcorn flicks. I don't read trashy novels. I've even given up video games (which makes me sad, I have to admit).
But I do miss it. I miss the fun. I miss being able to rock out.
I'm gonna listen to AC/DC tonight.


Memphis MOJO said...

Well, if you listen to AC/DC tonight, enjoy and 'Have a drink on me.'

BadBlood said...

Well, like Autograph says, "Things go better with rock." :)

StB said...

Don't forget those Canadians. Helix wanted to Rock You! Great Me asked to Rock Me. And Night Ranger defended them all by stating you can Still Rock in America!

StB said...

Oh, and as you point out with Iron Maiden and the story telling, I think that is what makes Metallica's Ride the Lightening so good.