Participating in my friend Jen’s Twisted Mixtape Tuesdays has reinvigorated my blogging juices. I think she should be on infomercials at two a.m. with “Blogging Bounce House!”
“Tired of strict deadline writing prompts? Sick of overdone blog memes? Lost your thrill of writing off the cuff about your kids? Here’s Jen’s Blogging Bounce House, it’s music! List your favorite songs in loose themes and imagine your friend’s jumping, flipping, and throwing up after five minutes from exhaustion and nostalgia!”
Great, another writing friend making cash while I toil away with my dark “art”…….
This week is the second part of ’80s. Since most of the second half of the decade was about mega artists like Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson or Prince putting out massive amounts of product and MTV started to suck, fast, I decided to get away from genre and talk about the coming 1990s storm. I’m listing seven songs, two from the last year, 1989, and see if you can hitch your giddy-up on the harbinger of hair metal and party rap wipe outs courtesy of, well, these sonic gems. This is a learning blog; a cynical, sarcastic, whiny, learning blog. Let’s go crazy, literally.
1) Let’s Go Crazy – Prince. Of the 1984 commercial behemoths - Mike Jackson’s Thriller (it was released in 1983 but dominated the first few months of 1984), Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., and Purple Rain by the Mighty Mite of Minnesota, Prince’s record’s the most artistic. The song that captured all the Led Zepplin bombast, Beatles pop fury, and Prince’s Princeness is Let’s Go Crazy. From the preacher start “Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life” (my wife has been instructed to play this at my funeral, Hold her to it) to the guitar virtuoso end, Prince showed all of his skills. This song’s been covered and admired by many artists. I wish I had a shrink called Dr. Everythinggonnabealright
2 ) How Soon Is Now – The Smiths (1985) I love this song, riff, guitarist, and these lyrics. It’s been called the Stairway to Heaven of the 1980s. I agree. If you can’t relate to this: “You shut your mouth how can you say I go about things the wrong way I am human and I need to be loved just like everybody else does” then you’re at the wrong blog, and Morrissey and Johnny Marr hate you. The greatest riff ever? Close.
3) No Sleep Till Brooklyn – Beastie Boys (1986). Rick Rubin, producer of the white rap punks from New York, hired 80s metal God, Kerry King of Slayer. to play thunderous riffs and solos, then mixed them with the brash nature of King Ad Rock (adam horovitz) Mike D (Michael Diamond) and MCA (the late great Adam Yauch). The merge of rock and hip hop wasn’t smooth until this song and Aerosmith and Run DMC’s Walk This Way during this same year, 1986. ‘Brooklyn brought cultures together to buy records, wear clothes, and force decaying rockers to get a little more fly, yo.
4) Where The Streets Have No Name – U2 (1987). Until their breakthrough fifth record, The Joshua Tree, was released in the summer of ’87, U2 was known for an earnest Live Aid performance, protest songs, and lead singer, Bono’s, hair. They were largely ignored by top 40 and critics were split on their importance. Then the four Dublin lads conquered the states. Their love letter, sort of, to America begins with the opening number, a slow build to bombast. It’s an American rock song done by Irish dudes. And they kill it. They reinvented Arena Rock and gave it a global sheen. From Bono’s over-annunciation “iiiiii WAAAANNNTTT TOOOO RUNNNN” to The Edge’s quicksilver guitar riffs. ‘Streets is a classic in more ways than “One”. That’s a hint for next week.
5) Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N Roses (1988). L.A. Sleaze and pop metal or hair band music lasted a full decade. It started from the ashes of glam, punk, and metal in the early 1980s and stuck around till, well, you’ll see, soon. To dismiss 10 years of stuff is foolish. Guns’ owed more to the New York Dolls, The Sex Pistols, David Bowie, and Lou Reed than Poison or RATT or Warrant. They were talented junkies who were into chaos as much as tunes. AND they sold millions. The pop hit from their debut Appetite For Destruction would’ve worked in any era because Slash conjures the hell from his Gibson and Axl sings like he’s going to die during the solos. ‘Child is a good song that still works and it reminds me of any and all good and bad memories of my senior year of high school and freshman one of college. I survived them because of this crazy song. Try and NOT snake dance. Where do we go now?
6) Fight The Power – Public Enemy (1989) – Social consciousness moved beyond the touchy-feelyness of Live Aid. In the revolutionary mics of New York hip hop pioneers, Public Enemy, socially aware music sounded like more than Malcolm X than Martin Luther King Junior. It paved the way for so many artists. Written for Spike Lee’s groundbreaking film, Do The Right Thing, lead emcee Chuck D spat rhymes that shocked and excited Americans of all races. “Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant s*** to me you see straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain motherf*** him and John Wayne”. I wasn’t the same after that. Neither were most “awake” music fans.
7) About A Girl – Nirvana (1989) The story is as good as the record. An album made for $606.17 from the pocket a guitar player who didn’t play on Bleach and was later kicked out of Nirvana who’d go on to become a war hero. The glum chums of bummed told us what was about to happen and we weren’t listening. Here’s where I show my annoying hipster card. I got a copy of Nirvana’s first album, Bleach, from the radio station I worked at because no one else cared. They all thought Soundgarden and or Alice in Chains was the next big thing. Kurt Cobain spoke my language while everyone else was giggling acid-washed. I was just miserable enough at the time to get what he was sayin’ and playin’. Sometimes you get one right. This is my “hey teacher, I did my homework!” moment. I’ve had very few. And this is a great song. Thanks for the 600 bucks Jason Everman and thanks for the service to your country as an Army Ranger. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2354233/Jason-Everman-Guitarist-kicked-Nirvana-Soundgarden-war-hero.html
Go see Jen and our weirdo music loving fake family at http://www.jenkehl.com and the Twisted Mixtape Tuesday link up. There’s great music and insight.
Also? While I finish the second book, get the first one. It’s music centered, too, about musician born at the beginning of this time, 1984, and her rise to stardom in New York City in 2008. The Ballad of Helene Troy is available, digitally, on amazon.com kindle, Good Reads, and http://www.smashwords.com. You can also get it in paperback from Lulu.com or Pound Publishing Headquarters, signed, like this one: