Friday, December 4, 2015

Metal, Man

Most of my life I've never 'been' anything - I don't make much of an effort on those things that earn cred-points to 'make you' this or that or the other label-thing.

I'm a huge fan of Trek, but still consider myself somewhat outside Trekdom because I'm not dedicated and have never been to a Con and so on. I'm something of a nerd, but have never played video games (do we even call them that anymore, or is the word "games" itself now the entire description of what once we had to refer to as electronic games and so on?) or achieved academically or committed sufficiently to this, that, or the other geek-cred.

As with my association with subcultures throughout my life, I get in there from time to time, but I'm never a member.

I'm not even an 80s metal head.

When I was in high school, I thought I was a hippie but wasn't ... and thought I liked New Wave but wasn't all the way there ... and had friends into hair bands, but was shy of its brashness ... and, again: I wasn't anything.

The blurb under my bio? "I contain multitudes" ... ? In a way, it's both a brag and a lament. My personality is multifarious, nonconforming - but then, it's also a bit jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none.

It's fun to brag that my first two concerts were The Clash's Combat Rock tour and Bowie (I often don't point out that was Serious Moonlight - but still - I saw all the cool concerts). But I wasn't fully in with either of those crowds either.

When I met Beloved Ex late in 1987, and began a seven-ish year stint With the Band, I actually, finally, gained a bit of cred in the one place I've ever had it. And even that - by proxy, of course.

I spent those years gigging right along with BEx and the band. I even ran lights for them a time or two (not my first time; I did major in theater - and that comment that I was part of the Rhythm Nation refers to one of the best shows I ever did run lights for - a dance concert, set to the album). I helped set up and break down, I sold what swag they had from time to time, I absolutely acted a bit as an ambassador. It never hurt those guys to have a fox dancing and "WOO!"ing up front, getting others to actually form a crowd around the stage.

When BEx worked with a radio station on an in-house band called The Wham Bam Thank You Band - I was (by the radio guys we palled around with) called The Ma'am. My chagrin at the time was entirely faked.

So that post label, the one marked 80s Bimbastic Glory? It's the one label-claim I actually feel I can make. Yeah, it's a joke (I wasn't a bimbo, I just played one for the band). BEx and I were both actually pretty conservative, well-bred, nice kids. He was a bashful and mannerly corn-fed boy who opened doors for me and treated me right.

On stage, of course, he was a whole 'nuther story.

And so, I got my cred.

I have a soft spot for metal, and all those things we're supposed to find risible - or, worse, sanctify as part of My Youth - because it's been That Many Years since they were happening (both in the temporal and the hip senses of the term). Not all metal was born in the 80s and not all its musicians had the bad hair. (I had bad hair myself, but not because it was big.)

Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, AC/DC - I love some of the greats, and some we are supposed to consider not-so-great. Hell, years ago I saw Sebastian Bach - specifically to gawk at whoever would go see him past his sell-by date, and possibly to throw some Silly String around the venue - and hell if he didn't smack my attitude down by sounding good. Still an asshat, of course. But the guy can sing, and that's his job. My hat was off. G'wan, Sebastian Bach.

More recently, the same friend and her husband and I went to go see The Cult. And Ian Astbury was great, they were tight, and it was a wonderful show, we had a great time. I could have lived without seeing that one guy from my past, but the music? My jam. That was an excellent show.

I still love this stuff. I don't OWN enough of it, of course, but then I don't own enough Janet Jackson nor *any* Loretta Lynn, nor much else of a lot of the music I love either.

Judas Priest. Jeebers, and by Priest, I mean only where Rob Halford is involved. Because - Halford! It's a rock shout unto itself, his name. Woo!

Dio. Aww. Ronnie James Dio. Tell me any fan who doesn't go all AWW when they remember him. He was the best manner of spectacle - and he seems also to have been a great guy, a nice one. Aww, Ronnie James Dio. Rest in Peace - or in mayhem, if that is more fun for a rock god, man.

And Zeppelin.

I have a hard time with Zeppelin, because - I mean, Jimmy Page once basically attemped to own a little girl for a year or two. Pretty much did. And how HIDEOUSLY horrifying. How sick, and way beyond rock-and-roll demented. It's all the worse, given he's all but internationally deified, and grey hair has conferred upon him forgiveness for all sins, if not English sainthood ...

But damn me if I can or will cut Led Zep's music out of my life. "Thank You" alone has some deep roots in my memories, and I can't excise those, nor do I care to.

And of course "Whole Lotta Love" - the performance of which is a major factor in my saying BEx on stage was a whole 'nuther guy above. I saw people who'd known him as my dorky boyfriend witness him on stage and just about die of shock.

On stage, Beloved Ex was one hell of a rock star.

He was a GREAT front man, a talented singer, guitarist, bass player, AND writer.

His spelling was the pits, but that was dealt with in the divorce.

I feel the need to get out in my car with the fantastic JVC sound system (once it gets past factory standard, it's a "sound system" not a stereo) and listen to something really loud.

I'd do it in the house. But Gossamer tends to jump.

Aww. Gossamer. Even more loveable than Ronnie James Dio. And that is saying something.


Jeff said...

As someone who was on the safe outer fringes of a metalhead circle decades ago, I really enjoyed this post. It feels in some ways like the start of something else: a memoir, a short story, a collection of scenes for a novel...

DLM said...

Haha! Yeah, no. I HOPE I'll never go on at book length about myself - it's bad enough there are people who have to put up with me IRL, poor souls. And that's what blogging is for, right?

BEx was truly talented, not just as an artist (they did do originals of course) but a performer too. Watching him turned me into a live music snob, he and his whole band were that good.