Raised On The Radio (& Heavy Metal magazine)

Bravely yielding my six-string axe through a fiery inferno of hot rock and barely clad large breasted Amazonian women. All of whom are fighting amongst themselves, in a sweaty, hot, fornication-promising heap, over who will be the victor in having the honor of straddling my leg, as the nerd painter – decked in floods and flannel and dreams – creates my muscle-ripped mountain-top-commandeering portrait, replete with crotch-covering lion’s fur and a backdrop of gloomy and hard volcanic ejacu… Oh hell! I guest authored today on wicked cool Jen’s site, and here’s the wicked cool link to take you there.

Please pop on back and tell me what you thought about my wicked cool, Heavy Metal-doused diatribe!

conanearlnoremjr1

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Pretty Boys & Pretty Girls

Another walk, another mix tape.

Several years back Kelly, Kevin and I were having a conversation. Now right up front, I’ll let you know that those are their actual names. I had originally thought of using aliases, but quickly realized, that as none but one of you knows who I truly am, then none would know who they are either. Besides, the aliases I had chosen were just going to be “Kerry” and “Ken” at any rate. And if you knew me, you would then know that it was really them that I was speaking of. That, and I’m pretty sure Kevin would punch me if I ever called him Ken, aliasdentally or not. And speaking of Ken – errr – Kevin, he was with Kelly and I, clustered around a warm dinner and cold beers, chatting about 80’s music. Of course.

During the chat, both Kevin and myself were explaining how, back in the day, we had always felt a stronger pull towards “gay” music than that of the “straight” variety. When Kelly asked us to elaborate, she was surprised to hear that the gay culture had such a strong presence in music. Now, I’m not quite sure why she would be so shocked by this fact, but then again she IS from Missouri.

Moving on.

As I’m sure you guessed by now, in an effort to “educate” her, I was only too happy to take the opportunity to create yet another of my beloved “mix tape” CD’s. And if you’ve been reading along these past several weeks, you already know that the title of this one was “for me: The Gay-ties.” The rules of the mix were quite simple: each song had to be either written, sung or “taken in” by the gay community. In addition, each artist and track had to be devoid (well, as much as possible) of gay stereotypes (sorry B-52’s, that took you out of the running). And finally, the mix overall just had to be damned good. It starts off with a no-nonsense one-two knockout punch of Queen’s “Flash Gordon” and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Two Tribes.” Chosen not so much because these were two gay icons of the eighties, but rather, because each song could almost be seen as a flag bearer to the generation.

These opening shots are followed by such powerhouse hits as – well, hell – I might as well just give up the track listing. Because, yeah, the mix is THAT damned good:

1. Flash – Queen

2. Two Tribes – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

3. You Spin Me Right Round – Dead Or Alive

4. Suburbia – Pet Shop Boys

5. Pretty Boy & Pretty Girls – Book Of Love

6. I Feel Love/Johnny Remember Me – Bronski Beat  with Marc Almond

7. Oh l’Amour – Erasure

8. Just Can’t Get Enough – Depeche Mode

9. Don’t Go – Yaz

10. The Great Commandment – Camouflage

11. We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off – Jermaine Stewart

12. Church Of The Poison Mind – Culture Club

13. Freedom – Wham!

14. Take Me Home – Cher

15. Lay All Your Love On Me – ABBA

16. Love To Hate You – Erasure

17. Comment Te Dire Adieu – Jimmy Somerville

18. Crucified – Army Of Lovers (OK, technically a 90’s track. Whatever. We’re talking “generational 80’s” here, not “Calendar 80’s”, OK?)

19. It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls (WHAT??? Can you name a better one to end it with?)

If you happen to have access to all these tracks, I suggest you make yourself a copy. If you don’t happen to, then drop me a line. We’ll get you hooked up. And yeah, to those of you in the know, I DID include Jermaine Stewart, AND he actually works pretty well in the mix. Even IF he never does get around to taking his clothes off.

Sadly, the gay icon that loomed largest in my young life (BESIDES Liberace) doesn’t appear here. And that’s only because – while I love me some Judas Priest – there simply wasn’t one square inch of audio space that I could squeak Mr. Halford and friends into the remainder of the mix. Now, when I first created this, my daughter was young enough as to still think that I was simply the living end of musical knowledge, and a dance talent. As such, we spent many a day twirling around the living room gleefully to the final track. So much so in fact, that she swore that this would be the very song she’d use for the “father/daughter” dance at her wedding (my choice of Bobby Darin’s “18 Yellow Roses” being forcibly dismissed). This is sadly no longer the case however. And last time I checked, I believe we’re slated to stand toe to toe over some artist I’ve never heard of, who requires a voice modulator to sing, and in general is far less “raining menish” then I’d normally care for.

This mix has provided me with many more such plusses as well. For instance, it is the only “for me” in the series to give shout outs to three others for it’s creation (in addition to Kelly and Kevin, T-Bone – also a real name – is credited, as he came up with the title for the mix). However, possibly the coolest thing resulting from the Gay-ties disc (besides the kick assicles mix itself, of course) is that it was through its mention that I started the relationship with my Best Friend That I’ve Never Met; when we inadvertently “took over” a mutual friend’s facebook status for a spell. So even if the mix was total rot (and it is so NOT), then my efforts would still have been more than worthwhile.

Now, based on previous posts of this ilk, I’m sure you’re wondering what brand new window of knowledge was opened during my walk with the “Gay-ties” mix. What pray tell, did I learn this time whilst walking in a solitary fashion, to the beats of gay men and synthesizers? Not one damned thing. I just had me a nice brisk walk with some great tunes to push me along. I can tell you one thing though, of all the solitary walks I’ve taken as of late, this time I didn’t just hump along like a balding middle-aged schlep. This time, I walked Fabulous!

Today’s track was chosen over all the rest because it was one of the first-ever attempts by artists to bring awareness to the AID’s epidemic. Sadly, it was not heard by nearly enough, and ignored by even more. 

Sap…

I suppose I should start with my youngest, as for my children, it was he who ever first requested a “mix tape” from me.

“I want one just like that Heavy Metal one you did for your work friends, but with all different songs. OK?” OK??? I was only too glad to oblige, as buttons busted from my usually sunken chest. The mix, eventually entitled “Metal Haze” (partially in ode to the general character of my son, and partially because my original mix was entitled “Metal Daze”) turned out pretty well, and it still sees regular rotation on family road trips.

It wasn’t too long (figure about ten minutes after the youngest’ initial request) for my daughter to also request a mix tape all her own. One that you might have guessed from the title of this post, was eventually called “Sap…” And, as you may also be inclined to think, there is nary a tune on here that is even remotely heavy and/or metal in nature. In fact, the entire album consists of the weepiest stuff available. Well, the weepiest good stuff, at any rate. Every song is about love lost, love searched for, or love in vein. Every tune concerns itself with people passed, or people passed over. Almost every track is slow and mopey in nature, and at least eight out of every ten is fueled solely by a piano, played mournfully and low key. In fact, it’s not until the very end, when you hear Kermit softly plunking at the strings of his stringless banjo, that you get to see any sort of real Light introduced to the mixture.

My daughter loved it when it was first produced, and played it far too loud and often for C’s liking, but she has since moved on to skinny boys who need voice modulators and overly painted girls with far more tit than talent. I, however, have not. I, however, still enjoy hearing Regina’s call slide softly into Tori’s winter. I still like to dream with the Waterboys of the stolen child, but only until the time of Matisyahu’s song. I agree with Morrissey that everyday is like Sunday, when trapped under The Church’s milky way. I know that while the Style Council may only be a stone’s throw away, they’re farther still than the boy in Suzanne Vega’s belfry. The one that resides in Liverpool. And I know that unlike INXS and no matter how much I beg to go, I will never be allowed a ride on Johnson’s aeroplane anymore than I will ever truly be able to hear Marlene Dietrich’s favorite poem, spoken of so eloquently by Peter Murphy. I have found the somebody that Depeche Mode is in search of, even if at times I feel much like U2 about my not being able to live with, or without her.

In short, and if you know even half the songs mentioned above, you know that the mix is an outright lamentable tear jerker. And yeah, I even included “Total Eclipse of The Heart”. And I made that work as well.

“OK t. That was, ummm, interesting. Care to fill us in on what the whole point of telling us that was?” Well, I happened to be listening to this mix on yet another one of my solitary walks (no worries, it’s just that C works a lot of evenings), and it in turn brought to mind the “Old Punk” mix I had told you of last time, as they’re both part of the same series. Yes, I actually think of my mix tapes as a series. And yes, the series even has a title. “for me” in fact. So it works a little like this. For instance, “Old Punk” is actually “for me: Old Punk.” Likewise, “Metal Daze” was actually originally released (well, sent out in the mail) as “for me: Metal Daze.” The disc created for my youngest, in turn, became “for E: Metal Haze” and so on. In all, there’s a total of fifty such discs included in this series, sent out to well over twenty people each (spreading the disease, one listener at a time).

Hey, I believe I told you at some point that I’m pretty high maintenance. Don’t know why you’re sitting there now, looking so surprised.

Anywho, after what might have been my longest digression ever, let’s get this kid back on track, shall we? When comparing the two mixes, I realized that for all of my punk rock bravado, all of my muffled rage, “Sap…” is actually the mix that far better fits me to a “T” (no pun intended). For all of my anger and pissery – the moans, longings and bellyaches of “Sap…” are much closer to what feels comfortable escaping from my lips – all things being equal. I understand how this could lead some of you to make the giant leap of deductionary skills to the conclusion that it is actually I who am the Sap here instead of my daughter. And to those of you who did, all I can say is “spot on!”

I’m thinking that this is the very reason that “Sap…” is one my favorite mixes in the bunch (besides the notable exception of “for me: The Gayties,” but that’s a post for another time altogether). It’s not so much because I had an accidental stroke of mix-genius when I made it, but rather it’s because it came forth as a conversation natural to my regular mood. When Holly Brook asks where’d you go, I find myself singing along much more honestly than when Wattie is bellowing about being a mucky pup. When Blue October is begging to be hated, I am much more inclined to give in than when Motley Crue is telling me to shout at the devil. I may very well, at one point in time, have wanted to take on the world. But I’m sure if I had my druthers, I would much rather just give it a big old hug.

You may think that that’s quite alright. That that’s the way to be. But I fear that by being like that, it puts me in the very same belfry as that boy living in Suzanne Vega’s Liverpool. You see, in the song, he’s a little bit crazy. A lot crazy in fact. “He sounds like he’s missing something or someone that he knows he can’t have now.” I fear that I too am missing something. I fear that being sap-like, while natural to me, is not the way one is supposed to be. I suppose you might be able to insert here a little blurb about people being just people, but that song didn’t make the mix. And besides, I can’t be certain that my being more sap-prone than not is actually “who I am,” as opposed to just a temporary condition, a momentary phase. You know, assuming that “moments” can last forty two plus years. Am I missing something? I’m none to sure. Is it important if I am? Possibly. Possibly very. Do I want to know if I am? Pretty certain, not. Will I end this post on a high note and – like the mix tape – with a jolly frog singing of rainbows? Most decidedly not.

No, I’m pretty sure you’ve all heard that little ditty before. Instead I will leave you with Johnson and his aeroplane. Firstly because I feel it’s the best song that INXS ever did, and secondly, because it is a flight I so long to someday take. If for no other reason, just to make sure I’m not up in that belfry.