Sunday, June 17, 2012
Gunter Glieben Glauchen Globen
I didn't walk out of Rock of Ages because I liked it.
I totally love heavy metal from the 80s. Not as in, "Isn't this a dumb old song from the 80s?" But as in, I actually think Def Leppard is a really good band. I do--like, seriously.
I know it's not hip but it doesn't change the way I feel. Rock of Ages is campy and jokey but as I listened to the music I thought--this is great music and it is no joke.
I like to think I have good taste in music (I think most people like to think that). Who's to say whether it's "good." I do know that my love of music is totally earnest and unselfconscious. We used to have very little control over what we listened to. We listened to whatever came on the radio. I laid on the floor outside my sister's room and listened to whatever she was blasting. You couldn't choose a song on an iPod or search for anything on Spotify. I think people were more tolerant of different genres. Now a days you could go your whole life without ever hearing top 40.
When I was little I used to sit on the counter and play music on a tape player that was in the window sill above the sink. The first song I really fell in love with was "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow. I LOVED it. I died over "Mandy." I asked for a Barry Manilow record for Christmas and I got one--along with a disco kid record player with flashing lights. Talk about lame, right? Not at all--It was awesome! See, I'm totally self-aware about music. I'm just not self-conscious about it.
I know this story would be cooler if it had been Chuck Berry or The Clash that turned me on to music. But it wasn't. It was Barry Manilow. Then it was A-Ha and Howard Jones and Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. I'm equal opportunity, man. And I defy you to name a more beautiful song than "Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crue. It's a lullaby. It's an anthem.
So I basically know every word to every song in Rock of Ages because I had heard every song a thousand times at that age when you memorize everything effortlessly. I didn't even know I knew it. Heavy metal is easy to memorize. It's so obvious. It's not clever. It's sincere. Don't get me wrong. We used to make fun of Steve Perry and the guys in Foreigner, especially. The aren't cool. But oh, I love to sing along. I defy you to name a more beautiful song than "Faithfully" by Journey. It's a love note. It's a vow.
In the 80s heavy metal was on MTV all the time. You think Rock of Ages is thin on plot? Light in depth? Hardly. If you think of it as a music video it is positively rich in imagery, tension, and story. It's one of the best music videos I've ever seen. And that includes Guns N' Roses' video for "November Rain," which I defy you to find a more beautiful song than. It's a trial separation. It's a hymn.
Even as I write this I am of two minds. There are jokes to be made about this era with the "music" and the "hair" and the "guitar solos" but those jokes are all on me because Speedwagon makes me tear up and Pat Benatar is a stone-cold hero. Like, I really think that.