Write like you are writing to a friend. I’m writing to Hank Hedland.
The accompanying mind dribble is sent to you without vindictive intentions. I have nothing but good purposes mixed with a needy desperation to find a destination for this writing. I need to pass it to someone before I put it away forever. Like a pink elephant gift.
As a member of To Live And Write In Alameda I’ve been trying to get into the habit of writing and one prompt in this regard has been the written advice of the sadly recently departed Tom Wolfe. His tip to fledgling writers was along this line. “Write as if you you are writing to a friend,” he said, as I recall. “Why me?”, you may ask Mr. Hedland. Here is what I wrote. It touches on your and Tom’s podcast Talk About The 80s content, a little bit. So that’s why.
Oh, and I don’t know what Mr. Wolfe would advise about my run-on sentences. And I don’t really know if heavy metal bands are an 80s thing. Which, if they aren’t, could be a bit awkward for my reasoning.
My bedroom window opens up to a view of my neighbor’s backyard. In that yard is the beginning of the construction of a new little cottage. It was begun with the laying of a cement foundation. That is how they start.
This story, Hank, tips again and again. This cement foundation story tipped from my window view. Then it tipped onto other things. Next paragraph please.
In doing this foundation a hose full of cement fed from a cement truck. No more wheelbarrows needed it seems. I watched as the contractor poured cement from the hose into the framed foundation sections. I looked for a bulge in the long hose but I saw no Jimmy Hoffa lump in it.
OK, this isn’t about Jimy Hoffa. And you have to remember who he was to make any sense of it at all.
It’s a Hoffa free foundation here, anyway. Hoffa was pretty fat and needed a deeper flooring to rest in. Some parts of him would be likely to pop out of the surface of the cement for sure. It wouldn’t work for the little cottage as you’d be sure to see some of Hoffa’s parts like chocolate chips on the surface of a chocolate chip cookie. Probably Hoffa’s remains reside nearer to Chicago anyway. Cleveland is where I would have planted him. In deep cement. Maybe his body lies in the sub-flooring of the Rock and Roll Museum there in Cleveland. I don’t like Cleveland. Been there once.
Yes, I hope Jimmy Hoffa’s body is buried in the cement foundation of the R&R museum in Cleveland. Maybe some speaker system blasts out a recorded loop of an AC/DC song there today. Loud. Over and over. It won’t wake Hoffa but that’s a good thing. Highway to Hell? Perfect.
The band AC/DC is a heavy metal band which was my first encounter with the heavy metal shouting and guitar string screeching genre. I saw them at the Cow Palace sometime in the 80s. Someone in the crowd tossed an empty whisky bottle my way that night. The bottle came dangerously close to my head. It nearly provided me a memorable concussion I suppose. The girl it hit survived.
Is there a study, Tom and Hank, about the current status of heavy metal players from the 80s? This might be a suitable topic for Talk About The 80s. Your podcast. Are the metal musicians maintaining their heavy attitudes and comfort levels in regard to their own aging. Is the aging that these musicians are experiencing bringing about any kind of, say, call it reorientation with them in their senior years? Have their values chaged from handgrenades on their belts to something softer, more grandfatherly?
Bands that still tour and have any of the original members could be of interest to your podcast audience. This might depend on whether the veteran hard rockers have any memory and perspective. If they are just robots of their former selves then there may be no sense inquiring. There may be “no body home” as they say. I saw Patsy Cline on her last tour and she wasn’t digging very deep.
Some musicians have a way of finding something meaningful in their music and it’s performance. Believe it or not, I think Keith Richards has a light shining still. I may be wrong.
I’m talking about values that the music talks about. What does a band like MegaDeath talk about? It basically talks about MegaDeath. That kind of thing.
What does the band AC/DC talk about? Look at this list of AC/DC songs that boast, ne threaten, of death defying power in their fearless metalness: Highway to Hell, Black Ice, Iron Man, Stiff Upper Lip, Ballbreaker, T.N.T., Shoot to Thrill, Shot Down in Flames, Sin City, Big Gun, Bad Boy Boogie, Dog Eat Dog, Shake Your Foundation, Danger, Heat-seeker. These guys, in their earlier days, were on the way to leading us into World War III.
Obviously AC/DC had no interest in projecting a soft cushy image. Back in “the metal days” I’d say the bands competed with many other to be the most “metal.” Some used fire and other pyro effects. It’s a wonder they didn’t come on stage with machine guns and bull whips and leave the stage bleeding after the encore. I mean, they had that image to project. That was back then. But do they live up to their desired image today? Are they, the guys in the bands, “heavy” now? Are they “metal” now?
Could it all have been just an act?
How are they keeping the steel in their metal?
What’s the current story on these guys?
So I Googled up a few metalic players to get an idea about their ethical stamina in their senior citizen days. Here are a few to note.
First, let’s not get all wussy about original AC/DC lead singer and co-song writer Bon Scott who drank one to many an incendiary alcohol doses which caused him to flame out back in the early years of his band. He was on fire. A kind of spontaneous combustion. Call it “pyro.” And it turned out he wasn’t immortal.
On second thought, I’d rather not compile a list of rock musicians (all genre musicians performing anywhere from soft lounge acts music to plutonium grade nuclear bombs music) who exited the scene with early-stage or late-stage or anywhere on the spectrum-stage dementia. The amount of drugs consumed in the interest of having a good time in rock music across the category is monumental. And outside of rock music too. Cute puppy loving “pop” musicians did much the same too. Dozens of band members and their roadies have slipped over the edge from their unhealthy use of any number of substances. At the autopsy of any 80s musician the precipice to demise no doubt can be perceived to have been met and exceeded by overdose after overdose. Post concert mayhem was sometimes too much. A toll was paid back in those metal days and if not, a toll probably needs to be paid after some years of medical mitigation.
Aspiring to be “heavy” has left a bill to be paid for many an artist.
With so many spikes and nails in the heavy metal band member’s ears, nose, arms, genitalia and just about anywhere else it is no wonder things are blurring the X-ray pictures. Doctors, nurses and interns will make diagnosis of dementia often. Analysis by the medical professionals may be challenging in the hospital emergency rooms. The perception of doctors who missed the metal years would be understandable. They are most often doing this lab work without even a faint recollection of Keith Moon in any of their background studies. Keith should be a classic case if you ask me.
Another band transition, to use a polite term, is the replacement AC/DC singer Brian Johnson who exited the band. AC/DC is now in self-tribute mode when it tours. Johnson left in 2016. It seems that he needed to coddle his prissy hearing system following the advice of his audiologist. My image is this. Doctors advised this AC/DC veteran to alternate his current and he shorted out on his fans. To the doctors, Brian Johnson should have flipped them “the finger” and crooned, hollered, sang, shouted or whatever the lyrics of Bad Boy Boogie turned up to full volume. But, alas, I’m not shocked.
Another questionable move coming from the power force is backup singer Cliff Williams taking a “retirement.” Retire! Not even Marilyn Manson retires. Where does one retire to after singing songs like “Decapitate” and “Morbid Angel” for dozens of years. What assisted living community would even take them in?
Come to think of it, I have a great idea for a TV sitcom Hank. How about a “residential living senior center” exclusively for post metal players? Dining room conversations would be hilarious. Locate it in Seattle or Los Angeles.
One can hope to learn soon that Cliff Johnson is gearing up for a world tour titled Heatseeker’s Revenge. We cannot wait. Early tickets available to AARP members.
Again, let me ask, what place is there in this world for a retired heavy metal musician? The gray hair won’t finish these guys off. The only gated residential places to suit these guys come with wardens and bars.
Let me be fair; some of my idols from my rock listening years where “snowflakes” and I still like it that way. After all, Elvis had Heartbreak back in that hotel. And he rocked! Did Elvis even have tattoos? Doubt it.
Indeed, at least I wasn’t suckered into the pop music world of Pat Boone and Patty Page. Alas, some were.
And, I’m proud to say that some pretty scruffy types including Jerry Lee Lewis “Great Balls of Fire” and Gene Vincent* “Woman Love” hit our jukebox. I bet Lewis has tattoos, even.
(Note, *One song of many of Vincent’s has some kind of 80s grit I think and actually has a point. Starting lines are:
Well I’ve led an evil life, so they say
But I’ll outrun the devil on judgment day)..
Now that’s heavy. And you know, I think Gene was the real thing. He did, I’m betting, outrun the devil!
Was heavy metal an 80s thing?
Was there ever a rockabilly heavy metal band?
I’m going to start a list of all the “metal band” names with those boastful hammering killer names that probably hid the cream puff softie wannabe rockers. I’ll start with the band MegaDeath. Promises, promises! Yes, that’s a crock, I bet!
I’ll start this after I complete my list of All the Lies Trump has Told.