Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 4/19/18
Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the late ’60s.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
EXTREME – “Mutha (Don’t Wanna Go To School Today)” (1989)
“Mutha, don’t wanna go to school today…I think I’d rather go outside and play.”
The opening lyrics of this melodic anthem, which kick in after an incredible shredding intro by Nuno Bettencourt, make me nostalgic for days gone by, but not in the way that you might expect. When this song came out in 1989, I was already in college, so it was up to me whether I went to school or not.
Hearing this song recently on satellite radio (while driving with my family) was bittersweet. You can’t help but get swept up in the joy of the melody, but the lyrics (which once connected with me) made me feel a bit sad.
As a parent, you always want your children to have things better than you did, but I don’t think that’s the case these days. Sure, kids today have technology that makes my Atari games look like a joke, but they also have a lot more pressure on them than we did.
Missing school used to be a rite of passage as a kid. Not only did I stay home when I was feeling under the weather, but I had some days where my “illness” was (let’s say) exaggerated. Because they are so overwhelmed with schoolwork and homework, my kids don’t even want to stay home when they’re feeling sick, much less to play hooky. Missing a day of school just means having to make up a lot of work, so they’d rather just go and get it over with.
Because we’ve had so much snow where we live, my kids don’t even like “snow days” anymore. Now, they just worry that it will cut into their vacation time during better weather. As I write this (on April 19th), we are currently on a 3-hour delay because of yet another snow storm!
I long for the days where kids would jump at the chance to miss school, and to play outside for that matter. My childhood wasn’t perfect, and nostalgia has a way of polishing the memories, but I truly feel that my youth was more enjoyable than my children’s. It may sound irresponsible, but I wish that my kids would ask for a day off from school to go outside and play. Sign of the times, I suppose…
SLAUGHTER – “Desperately” (1990)
Mark Slaughter’s vocals were high even by hair band standards. Many times, vocals in this range distort the ability to understand the lyrics. This is not the case for Slaughter. And though I always understood most of the lyrics, I used to think that “Desperately” was called “Destiny.” I didn’t own the band’s 1990 album (Stick It To Ya), so I lived in blissful ignorance until I heard the song years later on satellite radio and saw the title on the screen. Needless to say, it made me feel kind of ridiculous, especially because I’ve always loved the song.
Kids today will never know the effort that it took to learn the lyrics to songs because the answer is literally at their fingertips. I still remember spending hours upon hours recording my albums onto cassette so that I could write out the lyrics. Play…pause… rewind…play again…write what you think you hear.
Years ago, my wife and I went to see a comedian named Eddie Brill whose take on the mistaken lyrics phenomenon was hysterical. That same year, my wife bought me a book called ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: And Other Misheard Lyrics. (the title inspired by the Jimi Hendrix classic, “Purple Haze”). If you can appreciate singing the wrong lyrics of a song for several years, I highly recommend this book.
Even though I didn’t know the correct title of this Slaughter classic, it didn’t make me love it any less. “Desperately” captures the upbeat vibe of the ‘80s and of the pre-grunge early ‘90s.
SUZANNE BRACKEN – HRD Music Scout
STYX – “The Grand Illusion” (1977)
I remember The Grand Illusion album (released in 1977) ruling the charts and the FM radio airwaves in the spring of 1978. I recall it being a breath of fresh air, welcoming a new season with positive energy and truly insightful songs, one better than the next.
The title cut invites you to reflect on the unrealistic depiction of life on television and magazines in the late ‘70s, but its message may resonate even more strongly today, over 40 years after its release, in the age of social media. The lyrics perfectly capture the culture of each of us feeling compelled to compare our lives to “someone else’s fantasy.”
The message of the song is timeless. In reality, it’s hard (if not impossible) to compare your life with the images of supposed perfection that are constantly plastered on our screens.
The Grand Illusion came out when I was a kid. Thankfully, during that time period, we were not faced with these types of struggles. I cannot even imagine what the kids of today have to deal with on a daily basis, because adults are not even immune to getting caught up in a false sense of reality. Since social media shows no sign of slowing down or fading away, and I am on social media for the music as much as the friendship, I’ve found it important from to take small breaks from it, if only to preserve my sense of self-awareness.
I saw Styx open with “The Grand Illusion” at the Jones Beach Amphitheater in the summer of 2015. On a beautiful summer night, with the water and the sunset as a backdrop, the song sounded better than ever, and more powerful than it did in the ‘70s. Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young are still the perfect duo, smiling, happy, and playing better than ever.
“Superstars”…”Miss America”…”Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man).” Each song sounded fabulous and nostalgic, but not at all dated. My friends and I remarked that we should have made an effort to see Styx more frequently over the years. No doubt we will, as friendship and music are my reality as much as anything else. Nothing is better than getting lost in the music on a warm summer night.
IAN GILLAN – “Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say),” (1970)
As a child of the ‘70s, my parents always had music playing in the house and in the car. Suffice to say, it was a constant in our lives. It helped to shape the taste of my siblings and me, and to foster our love of music.
One of my mother’s favorites was the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. Christian rock was quite popular in those days, with the Godspell soundtrack, Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,” and George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” all being huge hits.
Little did I know at the time that I was listening to a rock legend in the making, one of my favorite vocalists of all-time, Ian Gillan, playing the part of Jesus. I broke out this album recently in preparation to watch the live version of Jesus Christ Superstar on Easter Sunday with John Legend playing Jesus and Alice Cooper in the role of King Herod. I had not listened to this album in many years, and wanted to get reacquainted with the songs so that I had so loved as a child.
When I heard “Gethsemane,” Gillan’s voice practically jumped out of my car speakers. His performance of this song is nothing short of mind-blowing. His voice can literally bring tears to your eyes with its beauty. This has to be one of his most compelling vocal moments ever. I listened to some other vocalists perform this song on YouTube and there is no comparison whatsoever. If you are a Deep Purple fan, you simply must listen to this soundtrack album.
I saw Gillan live with Deep Purple on the Perfect Strangers tour at Madison Square Garden in 1985 when they made a great comeback with one of my favorite albums. I saw him again in 2011 at the Beacon Theater. His voice has not lost any of its range or power.
I’m glad that Deep Purple was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. In all honesty though, their legacy was never going to depend on that. It was firmly cemented many years ago, due in large part to Gillan’s voice.