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There I was, a sunny Thursday afternoon in April – today, actually – doing my utmost to avoid anything resembling what I was supposed to be doing, which was working on my online portfolio. So, furthering the avoidance actions of Weboholics everywhere, I did what I always do when I don’t want to do what I’m doing.

I went to Blabbermouth to see if I could find anything to piss me off. And I didn’t find it. I found something else so shocking, so upsetting, so effing outrageous, I couldn’t even get pissed off about it.

Not good.

But there it was, in black on gray electronic letters. Peter Steele, lead singer and songwriter/founder of Fallout, Carnivore and Type O Negative, possibly the largest and certainly the longest lasting musical obsession I’ve ever had in my life, passed away some time yesterday, aged 48. Forty-eight!

What started as a rumor very early this morning CET via Twitter, began gaining legs and growing and growing. By this afternoon, there was confirmation from keyboardist Josh Silver, and tributes were crawling out of the woodwork of musicians, journalists and bloggers everywhere.

It can’t be true. But this time, unlike in 2005 when the band pulled a similar stunt (a hoax, as it turned out), many of us had the oh-so sinking feeling that it is – true.

I’m trying to accept it, and I can’t. Here’s another one of those Defining Moments in Music – Where were you when…John Lennon was shot, Kurt Cobain died, Layne Staley, and now…Peter Steele.

But why does it have to be when they died?

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was working as a graphic artist for a Copenhagen cultural institution known as Huset. At Huset, my best friend was the secretary for the Huset booking office, a compleat metalhead with a sharp eye on The Next Big Thing. This day of all days, she was trying to persuade my pregnant self to come to a concert at Barbue that night. “I KNOW you don’t like thrash, I KNOW you hate too much…same old…same old, but THESE guys – are not LIKE that. You’ll dig it, really!”

Huset was and is a rabbit warren of hallways, stairs, sloping ceilings and other hazards to your sense of direction. Later that afternoon, I went in search of coffee. About twenty feet from my office, I walked – literally – right into a Moving Obstacle. Which was about as much as I saw, before I looked up. And up. And..Geezuz fuck, who the HELL was this, this – titanic hunk of testosterone bomb?

It was a very apologetic, scrupulously polite Peter Steele, who had got lost on his way to the Barbue green room and somehow ended up banging his head on the 18th-century beams of the hallway just outside my office. He kept apologizing, poor man, all the way back to the green room and I kept laughing it off.

My friend prevailed. Later that night, I showed up, looking only slightly improved. This time, I was prepared for the impact. I walked up and introduced myself properly, in my native American English:

“Dude! Do ya know, I could have a raging affair – with your navel!”

To his everlasting credit, he laughed, and so did the rest of the band, while I was busy trying to find a small and dark corner in which to hide my own mortification. In person, he had an alarming – and disarming amount of charm, even towards idiot midget half-Danes from the land of tall blondes. Of course, I was a redhead then, and that must have helped.

It was a show not like many others I had seen, just as Type O Negative was a band unlike any other. Beatles-meets-Black Sabbath-meets-gothadelic-hippie-punk-metal-with-a-sense-of-humor-so-black-you-had-to-wear-shades. But even then, even as I filched the office copy of “Bloody Kisses” one day no one was looking, I didn’t entirely…get that voice yet. The time wasn’t right, or my headspace wasn’t until a few years later, I walked into a record store as if pushed by some invisible demon and asked for “October Rust”.

I went home, I put it on, I turned up my amp and then…about three minutes into “Love You To Death”, my brain literally – blew up. I was in the grip of emotions I didn’t understand and had never known before, I was attacked by something I couldn’t even articulate, it was – that powerful. And it was a combination of music so achingly beautiful, produced to luscious aural perfection, and That Voice – asking the question that blew my brain to smithereens: “Am I good enough for you?” The very idea, that someone could sing that, that someone like Peter Steele could sing that so earnestly – that’s what hit my detonator.

Because this was that Band In My Head (if I had that kind of talent, which I don’t), and here was that Voice In The Dark, the guy my Mom would have warned me against, a hopeless, hapless heartfelt romantic who pushed buttons I never even knew I wanted pushed – and bad. “October Rust” guided me through a very nasty breakup, through my discovery that that writing thang was some kind of (bad) idea, through ups and downs and out of controls. To this day – it the only CD out of my entire collection I have had to replace – three times.

I saw them live, a year or so later, I faithfully bought all their CDs on the release dates, and always, the Baritone That Did Me In did strange and wonderful and weird and unspeakable things to my head, things that can’t be mentioned in daylight.

Carnivore’s “Male Supremacy” became the litmus test for potential boyfriends – only a very healthy sense of irony need apply. His voice became such an extended part of me it was a question of “love me-love my favorite band” or else – forget it.

His voice was a voice that followed me through writing The Effing Book (three times), through everything that gave me the written voice I have today, and even into my latest misbegotten project, so much, I took his physical characteristics and gave them to “Saint Peter” in my story, one of the Good Guys. Today, I’m wondering how I’m going to get myself out of that pickle, because Saint Peter is very much alive on April 28th, at least in my story.

But today, on April 15th in the real world is the day my iPod cries. I didn’t know Peter Steele as a person, I don’t have the right to mourn him on that level, but I have the right to pay homage to a musician, a composer and a singer that exploded my head and stole my heart – and never, ever gave it back!

For that alone, a simple “thank you” is never enough.

So these pathetic words will have to do!

Goodbye, Saint Peter. You will be missed by millions, and mourned by them all, but you never entirely left, did you?

You left That Voice behind, and the music with it. Thank you for that, too.

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In the interests of furthering my musical education – or my inner maladjusted teenager, take your pick – I recently watched a BBC4 documentary on the history of heavy metal called “Heavy Metal Britannia”. It traced the origins of British heavy metal through the hazy days of influences such as Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, the Yardbirds and Cream, to Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple on to the embryonic beginnings of bands such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest in the Stygian industrial wastelands of Birmingham, and all the way to the Eighties, when Judas Priest and Iron Maiden ruled the world, or at least the world of aural metal, the territory left over that the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen hadn’t conquered yet.

Documentaries such as this one usually pack some hidden agenda, a buried subtext in black or white – the team behind it either digs it, or doesn’t, but there’s rarely any kind of middle ground. So I won’t even get into my entire gripe about the craptacular songs they used to illustrate what BBC4 defines as “heavy metal”, quotation marks included.

What really made me wonder was a throwaway statement that was meant to be ignored, overlooked and likely forgotten. The speaker had a certain cringe in his voice as he said it, a twinge of

I-so-did-not-say-that

.

Since I am a thoroughly perverted, corrupt, filthy-minded female who pays attention, I caught it. I not only caught it, I had a long hard look – and started thinking.

Always a perilous exercise.

C’mon. Your curiosity is killing you, right?

Apparently, back in the day, back in the Eighties when I was (much) young(er) and still had a few illusions punk hadn’t killed off, metal was – a guy thing.

Well, blow my mind!

That’s right. Hair bands were for female delectation, which is why, I’m guessing, Brett Michaels turned it into his entire career.

REAL metalheads – the kind who took it seriously, the kind who lived for it, the kind who headbanged at every opportunity, the ones who wanted it LOUD, who liked it PROUD, who wanted nothing more than in-your-face-all-out-aural-Armageddon…were walking testaments to testosterone who preferred more of the same as their musical justification for existence.

Right. We fluffy-minded females were just around for the ride, because our boyfriends dug it, because the dudes were smokin’, because – ladies, let’s face it, it didn’t get hip for us until the Nineties, at least in any way we could admit to in public without blushing. Chris Cornell has a lot to answer for.

Misogyny and music have a long and interleaved history, and metal and misogyny no less. So let’s start with that one.

I hate, detest and loathe stereotyping, I hate orthodoxy, I hate, despise and disdain people who have an urge to pigeonhole everything and nothing into tidy, small-minded labels, roles and sub-cultures that are easily defined, easily grasped by the masses, and just as easily digested.

I hate it because I’m one of those irritating people who just happen to think that great music is great music and who gives a dipshit if it comes with corpse paint? Or even corpses, artfully deranged?

On my planet, music is music. Period. I like all sorts and all kinds, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten darker. It’s the loss of all those illusions. It’s killing me, I’m tellin’ ya.

And wowee, here we go, wheel in the dank and dirty misogyny in all its gory glory – a long and distinguished list of dedicated testosterone bombs whom I dare not name wailing over w-o-m-a-n one way or another.

Once you get to the point where you can actually decipher the lyrics – and pick a genre, any kind of death, doom, thrash, grindcore, nu-metal whatthefuckever, there’s no lack of creatively phrased ways of stating, just as a former boyfriend did to my face one time, that women are the root of ALL evil. Whether it’s Danni Filth in “Nymphetamine” or Peter Steele’s brilliantly titled “I know you’re fucking someone else” (no hidden lights under THAT bushel, with the axe on the D train to Brighton Beach following, any day) – it’s all – bad.

Oh, for the misery we ladies so love to inflict!

What would music be without it?

What makes me wonder – just because I am that kind of pervert – is whether it’s misconstrued as misogyny when all I’m hearing are many different versions and flavors of that age-old standby –

‘you’ve-got-it-and-I-want-it-BAD.’

That’s right. The entire devolution of male and female relations in eight words. And at least eighty thousand songs, some obvious, some not so much.

Meanwhile, since the misogynistic Eighties (take my word for that), things have changed. Gene Simmons once famously stated that women will not be able to play hard rock until they learn how to acknowledge that part of themselves that’s hairy and stinks.

Since then, many metal-minded women can do that quite as well as anyone, even with Hollywood wax jobs.

For which I, for one, am profoundly grateful. As profoundly grateful as I am for all the rest of them – the testosterone bombs bewailing or berating their harsh fates at the hands of the Liliths of this world.

Let’s face it – it gave us some spectacular songs.

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If someone ever took a gun to my head (perish the thought) and asked me to name my two favorite possessions, I’d blush a bright shade of pink to admit that they’re both manufactured by a company named after a very common fruit. If my apartment building caught fire and I had five seconds to leave, I’d grab the kid and those two things before I’d grab the cats. Seriously.

It’s that bad.

I am the owner of a MacBook – the salvation of my life (and definitely my marriage), the savior of my sanity, the gateway to my independence and future hopes and dreams – and an iPod, a small 1 GB Shuffle with no bells and whistles except the ones I put on it. I don’t need umpteen gigs of songs, I don’t need my favorite TV shows or baby pictures of Damien. I just need something semi-discreet and portable – that makes noise. I can use it as a USB-stick (I have), I can plug it into my TV and hear what’s on it. I can put anything on it my li’l ol’ heart desires, or even a heart’s desire (or two). This tiny device has prepared me for work and prepared me for the onslaught that waited when I got home. It has provided a sound wall for when the Buttkicker indulged his passion for WWII movies and I wanted to write on the Effing Book, or this blog, or something else entirely you really, truly, don’t want to know about.

I got around as a single girl. As a writer, I still do!

The other thing, my little laptop, you already know about. The results are as seen.

In these uncertain times, anything that keeps mind, soul and body together can’t possible be bad. People are being laid off right and left. Creativity, that mainstay of food-for-thought, is getting scarce as the global economy is getting worse. So, instead of Busby Berkeley musical extravaganzas and Rogers&Astaire movies, some of us are taking highly radical steps into terra incognita to rid ourselves of an increasing sense of frustration and powerlessness. Feed that fatal pair long enough, and sooner or later, the Great Man-Eating monster known as Rage will emerge, and it won’t be pretty, either as poetry OR prose.

That monster, a close friend and associate of the Dood I introduced in another blog entry, merits his – or her, his deadlier, uglier sister – own blog entry.

Now, I’m interested in exploring how to manage him. Recently, as one of the things I do in order to avoid the Effing Book (something all writers do – clean their desk, do the laundry, wash the floor – anything to avoid actually writing), I completed a thoroughly stupid Facebook quiz along the lines of “What is your most repressed emotion?”. I was hugely surprised to find out that it came up as – anger.

Anyone who knows me will know that this is a laugh and a half. My fuse is notoriously short, loud and short-lived. I simply don’t have the attention span to carry a grudge for long. But anger is one thing, and rage is something else entirely.

If you’re not a sports fanatic and gifted with the ability to transfer your own rage to the opposing team, and since Roman circus games have been out of fashion for about 1700+ years, and there’s no reason an innocent four-year-old should bear the brunt of it, what do you do? You can work out until the cows come home. You can reorganize your kitchen cabinets and your closets, but then, you wouldn’t have any excuses not to write.

Your rage needs somewhere to go to get it out, or else the consequences will be dire.

One enterprising writer – and musician, as it happens – who was also laid off with ever-more increasing frequency – discovered entirely by accident that metal – the kind that gives your auricles calluses, the kind that drives many people mad, the kind, in other words, that incites and expresses murderous, poisonous emotions – did wonders for his flagging optimism. His gateway drug – if you can use that term – was Slayer.

Me, I can’t stand ’em. I was raised in a household with classical music, not a little of which I knew how to play myself. Opera, symphonies, sonatas and concertos – not to mention being able to read music – it all meant that I had certain standards that had to be fulfilled, or else – forget it. If it didn’t have melody, evolution and progression, if the musicians didn’t know how to play (which does nothing to explain my love of the Sex Pistols, but let’s call that one nostalgia!), if the lead singer did NOT know how to sing in fairly articulate English, if the lyrics were stereotyped “we’re EVIL and we know it” – forget it. Despite all my perverted Pisces best friend does to the contrary, Polish black metal doesn’t quite make the grade.

I’m picky about a lot of things. It’s my iPod and I can scream if I have to!

So when I went looking for a replacement for one particular musical obsession I’ve had for the last 15+ years (and man, does that make me feel OLD!), certain criteria had to be fulfilled. Brains. A certain healthy dose of brawn, just because I’m a gal who likes the guys who – you get the idea, right? – and above all else not staying in the same place for too long musically.

In other words, I went looking for musical redemption, the kind that carried a container for all the rage of 21st century life, the kind that made me think, the kind that challenged me and subscribed to the Chinese Box theory of great art – finding something new on the fifteenth runaround, as well as the Picasso theorem – “All great art, in order to be truly great, must have a certain Pelvic Pulse”. I wanted something to lift me out of my petty, pathetic limitations and carry me – up and out, as cool and calm as a refrigerated cucumber.

It took a few evenings trawling through YouTube, but I found what I was looking for. Now, I wait in line at the supermarket with Lee Hazlewood crooning his baritone croon in my ears. While Robert Johnson sells his soul to the devil, I collect Damien from kindergarten. On my way down, Danzig is teaching me how the Gods kill.

And in those dark, deep hours at night, where I wrestle with Scaring a Roman, I tap away on my keyboard while a black aria plays, spooked to the gills, transfixed by a terrible, eerie beauty, born up on a black angel’s wings.

Cool as a cucumber, cold as a crypt, happier than a warm day in May.

Whatever works and whatever it takes!

___________________________________________________________________________

Image: Michael William Kaluta, “Black Aria”, copyright Glenn Danzig, 1991

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One of the comments I received on Part One elsewhere stated categorically: “I found almost nothing on this list to agree with.”

You know, I’m glad. It shows yet again that there’s no accounting for taste. We’re all products of our time as well as our place. It says something that once upon a time at the tender age of 15, I thought the Bee Gees were the epitome of sophistication. It was 1978 and the world was in the grip pf Saturday Night Fever. In my defence, I lived on a rural island that emphatically was not the center of the universe, or even an interesting place on the perifery.

It all changed some two years later. There was, of course, a a guy to blame, my first boyfriend. He had the brilliant idea to take me to the Roskilde Festival, and on a late Saturday afternoon, standing on a stacked beer crate, my disco days died a painless death, never to return. It was summer, the sun was shining, he was my first -if thankfully not my last – love, and that live band phenomenon known as Santana were about to take the Canopy Stage.

Back in the day, being a product of her times, my mother was an AM radio fan, a sometime hippie (at least so long it was fashionable), and a former attendee of Woodstock. So I knew Santana. What I did not know was that I was about to experience a 20th century version of the mass religious epiphany – over 50000 people in one location and with one goal in mind – to throw themselves into that great mindless cauldron called musical surrender, no questions asked. There was no past, no future and no thought except one – to give yourself over to the beat and to the moment and let yourself be taken as well as being taken over.

Santana delivered. A fine thing to say for someone who later evolved into a black-wearing Goth, but there you have it – to this day, I will gladly fork over money to hear them live, because I know I’ll not only get my money’s worth, I’ll leave in a state of pure joy that will persist for weeks.

Santana led to other things, like jazz, like fusion, like punk, like metal, like grunge, like the whole rest of my musical journey that sadly, these days, hasn’t found a helluva lot of “new” music to get excited about, except certain outer reaches of metal that really do push boundaries, if not always the boundaries I want to push.

Rap leaves me – ice cold. The whole emo thing has it all backwards. Coldplay – puleeeeeeze. That’s not rock’n’roll, that’s the voice of some poor emasculated bastard who had his balls surgically removed at birth and has been searching for them ever since.

That’s OK. I no longer have any obligation whatsoever to be screamingly up-to-the-minute hip to anyone besides myself.

And if that’s not the ultimate exercise in maladjusted middle-finger-extended rock’n’roll attitude, what is? It doesn’t matter. I know what I like. Gene Simmons once said that rock’n’roll was about getting down to that part of you that’s hairy and stinks. I couldn’t agree more. Here’s more of the same, and none of it stinks!

Best 80’s Musicology Lesson In A Song:
Joy Division, “Disorder” (Unknown Pleasures, 1979)
You wonder, if you were around in 1979, if you ever would have heard the sound of clanking jawbones dropping in awe to the floor when this was put on record players. Joy Division’s first album – and “Closer”, the one that followed, was a harbinger of an entire decade, and even, by extension, a harbinger of some elements of grunge a decade later. Everything in the Eighties that made you go “wow” back then, you will hear here for the first time, but boiled down and distilled to the bare-bones bleak and bleached essentials. I still listen to Joy Division, and I still think they were towering geniuses miles and lightyears ahead of their time.

Best Two Reasons For Perpetual Indecision Albums:
Pink Floyd, “Dark Side of the Moon” and Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here” (1973/1975)
I can’t choose between these two. I can’t. I can’t. I’ve spent far too many hours on the floor in front of my dark-blue 1982 Technics stereo contemplating the anguish of the human condition to the sound of these two albums. They’ve paved the road for so many bands since. They are, both of them, stupendous. It is entirely possible that Pink Floyd is one of the top five rock bands ever to grace this miserable rock in space we call Earth, but don’t take my word for it. You might think it’s so much hippie-dippie tie-dyed British ballyhoo. You would be, I am delighted to say, dead wrong. Both of these albums have made me realize what a privilege it has been to live in a time when I got to listen to this – as often as I wanted. Shine on!

Best Series of Rock Albums That Could Have Been A Novel:
Frank Zappa, “Joe’s Garage” (1979)
There are legions of people who simply can’t get their heads around Frank Zappa. He applied classical and avant-garde musical techniques to the standard rock framework, and came up with a long laundry list of music that quite simply is some of the most technically advanced and challenging rock music ever written. And the entire 3-LP/2 CD set of “Joe’s Garage” is, in my anything but humble opinion, his finest hour. In Europe, Zappa was a rock god, far more so than in the US, and worshipped as one. In “Joe’s Garage”, we follow the rise and fall of an average Joe thoughout his rise and fall in the music business, with all that entails – groupies, STD, cults, prison and all-out musical mayhem. His lyrics are anything but politically correct and often hysterically funny, but the music, man – is astonishing. This is – a great story, a collection of amazing songs with some likewise amazing musicians, and if you happen to think Zappa never could play a straight guitar without going all Varese, then I dare you to listen to “Watermelon in Easter Hay”. Back in the day, when I got stewed enough, I would often give a stand-up performance of “Wet T-shirt Contest”. “So, whaddaya say, fellas? Nice set of jugs?” It got me banned from several Copenhagen bars at the time. To this day, I know the entire lyrics of all three albums by heart, to be recalled at the drop of a hat, a wet t-shirt or halfway through the tequila bottle, whichever comes first.

Best Singalong Song To Entirely Take Over a Party With:
Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night At The Opera, 1975)
Here comes another ground-breaker and head exploder. I grew up in a household where opera was not at all a dirty word, not even “The Ring of the Nibelungen”. So when this came along to blow up my brain a long time after it actually debuted, the territory was as familiar as my mother’s opera collection. We’ve all been to parties that tried ever so hard to be pretentious, grown-up affairs, wannabe salon soirees in a living room full of drunk, post-punk anarchists. You can see on their faces that the guests are thinking about that other party down the street, where the music is better and the guests at least know how to party. I snuck this one on the record player, and instantly, 12 people got to their feet in various stages of intoxication to give it their all, me among them. It became, we all agreed later, A Night To Remember. “Mamma Mia, let me go!” This is a song that never will.

Best Reason To Remain A Perpetual Teenager Song:
KISS, “Rock’n’Roll All Nite” (Dressed To Kill, 1975)
Some things, you never outgrow. Never, ever. KISS is another band I shouldn’t like, but I do. They were never the greatest, the most ground-breaking, boundary-pushing band on the planet. Innovation was not part of their musical vocabulary. But getting down to the hairy, stinking, id essentials of rock and roll was, and millions of fans agree. This is stupid, loud, obnoxious, teenaged and – fun. Thousands of forty-something teens agree. May we never grow up! Ever!

Best Housecleaning Album Of All Time:
Sex Pistols, “Never Mind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols” (1977)
A world without punk music is a world I have a hard time imagining, since both the music and the mindset to a large extent defined my entire “No Future” generation. Never mind that we all later devolved, just like our despised hippie parents, to become quite well-behaved pillars of our communities, much to our own dismay. Never mind that punk gave us: thrash metal, doom, goth rock, grunge and a whole slew of other genres, some of which are better left unnamed. The Sex Pistols defined the quintessence of punk. Period. The whole album is fabulously not bad, but as motivational mood music for housecleaning, this has no peers. My toilet bowls have never recovered. So long as I own this, they never will. So long as I own this, my neighbors never will, either. They’ve been eyeing me askance ever since.

Best What It Feels Like For A Guy Song:
Nine Inch Nails, “Closer” (The Downward Spiral, 1994)
Trent Reznor, to all intents and purposes, is a modern Marvel Man – and a marvel. I dare you to find anyone who not only singlehandedly has turned himself into a genre, all by himself, but also a one-man industry. Arguably one of the most influential musicians of the last two decades, and arguably, one of the few who have totally keyed into where music will be going not in a year, but ten years from now. As a dedicated and devoutly questioning heterosexual female, I’ve always wondered, you know, what it feels like for a guy. Nine Inch Nails spilled the beans. Now I know. Since I first heard this, my world has never quite been the same. On that note-

Best What It Feels Like For A Girl Song:
Kate Bush, “The Sensual World” (The Sensual World, 1989)
Forget Madonna’s lame, tame, radio-friendly song, and get thee to Kate Bush, another musical envelope pusher with one of the best voices in modern music. She does only what she pleases, and still manages to please. Very, very few females make my personal list, not because I’m a male-centric slut, but because I’m demanding. I want some bang for my musical buck, and so few ladies deliver. Kate Bush does, and still does. I dare you to find a better or a classier definition of a woman caught in that first delicious flush of lust and sensual anticipation. Mmmm, yes!

Best Revealing Insight Into The Ultimate Male Fantasy Song:
Type O Negative, “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” (October Rust, 1996)
This is so cheesy, so tacky, so unapologetically infectious and catchy, you might as well give in. The ultimate male fantasy scenario, obviously written – and sung – by someone who got lucky, and wasn’t afraid to brag about it. Thousands of guys have been envious ever since. Then, they saw the video, and were even more envious. Unless, of course, they’d been there too, in which case, they’d try to smirk as well as Peter Steele. They wish. You can find that video here.

Best Timewarp I’m Fifteen With No Cellulite Again Song:
Boston, “More Than A Feeling”(Boston, 1978)
Oh, boy, I can feel the howls of derision coming my way. As Johnny Rotten would say, “Sod off!” Boston deteriorated badly after their third album was released, and I’ll be the first to admit it. In 1978, when I first heard it, their eponymous first album blew everyone away, at least in my overlooked corner of the world. But man, oh, man. I listen to this and suddenly, I’m fifteen and only just managed to be rid of my virginity, and the entire world is an open road that goes ever on and on, and where it goes, I can’t even begin to guess. If only I knew then what else I would lose. My illusions, for starters.

Best Reason To Become a Metalhead For Life:
Black Sabbath, “Paranoid”(Paranoid, 1970)
It’s kind of hard to realize that this album came out in 1970, about the time the post-Sixties hangover was settling in, and music was desperately trying to find some kind of foothold, since even the Beatles were about to go their separate ways. It’s even harder to imagine what sort of shock to the musical status quo Black Sabbath was. Nothing, and I do mean, nothing was even remotely close to sounding like this. That’s it. Enter dystopia. Descend into darkness. Clue in catharsis. A tremendous work of edifying and stupefying splendor not one metal band ever since has not been indebted to. And speaking of debt-

Best “We’re Not Worthy! We’re Not!” Album:
Alice Cooper, “Welcome To My Nightmare” (1975)
It was sometime around 1973 or so when prepubescent kids everywhere suddenly discovered the joys of really pissing off their parents. This was when Alice Cooper (who did everything in shock rock before anyone else had even thought about it) was ubiquitous with “School’s Out”, and suddenly, the idea of striking terror into the hearts of hippie-liberal parents became a reality. At some point around that time, Alice Cooper toured the US and I pitched such a stinking fit that finally, after days of endless pestering my otherwise pretty laid-back Dad, I got to go. With my Dad. Five years later, that would have been the epitome of embarrassment, but then, it was – OK. It was more than OK when he liked it even more than I did, and promptly bought the albums. Chicken blood fazed him not at all. The sheer theatricality and sensory overload blew him away just like everyone else. If I were to name every performer who owes Alice Cooper at least something to his career in rock’n’roll, we’d be here till doomsday. But really – there’s a reason everyone who’s anyone loves Alice Cooper, even the Waynes of this world. Alice, dear, we really aren’t worthy. But we thank you anyway!

Best Ever Reason To Boogie Song:
ZZ Top, “Sharp Dressed Man'” (Eliminator, 1983)
In my time in New Mexico, there was an ancient joke trotted out whenever a wetlander newbie came across a native. “Why is New Mexico so dry?” “Because Texas sucks!”. There was, in fact, an entire genre of of lame jokes along the concept that Texas – sucks. Well, people, I*ve been there, and I hate to say it, but it’s true. Texas does – suck. The one place in Texas that everyone who is not a religious nutcase can agree upon does NOT suck – Austin – also furthered another reason why Texas boogie, among other things, also most emphatically does not suck. This is another party kickstarter, no question. ZZ Top is deceptively simple, unapologetically fun, and unabashedly down and dirty. Loved the car. Love the beards. Love this song. Boogie down! ‘Cuz every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man!

Best How To Get Stoned Without Actually Smoking Anything Illegal Song:
Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, “Some Velvet Morning When I’m Straight”(1967)
I have been listening to this since the early Nineties, right before some hipsters decided to make Lee Hazlewood happening again. Well, the fact is, Lee Hazlewood was happening waaaaay before the rest of us were even born. That he could persuade a good Catholic girl like Nancy Sinatra to sing his songs, knowing full well she did not get it at all, only makes them better. I still haven’t figured out this song. But the title gets me, man, “Some velvet morning, when I’m straight” – how genius a title is that? You think it would have stood a chance if the title had been “Some burlap evening when I’m baked?” Fat chance.

Best Ultimate Showoff One Hit Wonder Worm:
Iron Butterfly, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”(1968)
I distinctly remember the first time I heard this. I had just completed a creative marathon – 19 hours in a stretch, lost into the rabbit hole of creativity. I suspect I had been abducted by aliens that looked a lot like my cat. When I came to, it was 3 AM, and my radio – which had been playing unnoticed for 19 hours, suddenly began to play something that clanked my disbelieving jaw to the floor with a thud. I could not, for the life of me, stop listening. I could not, ever, forget I had heard this. I still can’t. This is pure, distilled, listen and die with envy embryonic heavy metal. Iron Butterfly never had another hit. They couldn’t top this. I dare someone else to try.

Best Zeppelin Of The Nineties Album, Part One:
Jane’s Addiction, Ritual De Lo Habitual(1990)
Perry Farrell annoys the shit out of me. He’s got just the kind of whiny, nasal, high-pitched voice and obnoxious opinions that set my teeth on edge. Unless you lived in Ulan Baator back in 1990, you would have heard “Been Caught Stealing”. Or seen the video. And you would likely have left it at that. You would have missed out on an album that pointed north – toward Seattle and grunge, bubbling beneath the radar in those days, backward in time – toward some of the seamier elements of psychedelic rock, and firmly towards the LA scene that gave us grateful music sluts bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers. Jane’s Addiction never quite repeated the promise they showed here. Success – and rehab – got in the way.

Best Zeppelin Of The Nineties Album, Part Two:
Soundgarden, “Superunknown” (1994)
Some albums, we unworthies really don’t deserve. Likewise, some frontmen, we don’t deserve. Chris Cornell, we definitely don’t deserve. This is arguably some of the most intelligent music ever to come out of the Nineties, and it still sounds as fresh today. Either that, or else, I’ve got calluses on my auricles. Can’t live without it. Wouldn’t want to try.

Well, folks, I could go on. I could continue this into a Part Three, and even a Part Thirty-Three, but what’s the fun of that? You go with what resonates, what strikes chords in your own life, what makes you stop in your tracks and think that maybe, baby, magic happens and you transcend the petty limitations of your pathetic, miserable existence into a plane of existence where it’s all good, all the time. or all bad, depending on your mood.

When it comes to music, we’re all of us looking for that moment when magic happens. When we have lost ourselves, and our selves, our egos even, and all that remains is a pulse – pelvic or otherwise, that proves one thing only.

We’re never too old for rock and roll, but we’re certainly too young to die! We’re alive. And we like it!

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And now, as Monty Python used to say, for something completely different. It’s gotten far too serious of late. Dissociation. pissed-off females, long-dead Lotharios – this is all fine and worthy, lofty subject matter. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do, and sometimes, that means – worthy, lofty subject matter. Better out than in.

But every so often, there’s a limit to how much loftiness and worthiness I can stand. It’s spring. Spring always makes my id start itching, and it’s not just the pollen, either. It’s not the aconites carpeting the forest floor in my local neck of the woods. It’s not the wild garlic spreading like an odiferous emerald rash beneath the beech trees, which – even for trees – are looking rather restless themselves. It’s not the birds beginning their morning concert at 3 AM. It’s not even the enormous bumblebee, trapped in my bedroom, that woke me up this morning by sounding like a very frustrated chain saw. It was of course let out and flew off to do bumblebee business. I took it as a good omen.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about music. The kind that floats your boat, the kind that gets your motor revving, the kind that inspires you and makes you happy, elated, the kind that elevates your miserable, pathetic existence to an altogether higher plane of consciousness. The kind, dare I write it, that makes you feel – young again, and with an upcoming birthday of the “let’s just forget about it, OK?”-variety, the importance of feeling young can never be underestimated.

I do lots of things to music. Housecleaning, cooking, baking, and last, but never least, writing. Writing to music shuts up the right side of my brain, so the other half can focus on the task at hand – cracking the metaphorical whip at my characters in order to get them to behave themselves, for a change. And every once in a blue moon, I can be found playing air guitar on my hairbrush, if only to let out frustration – any flavor. I may or may not be in my underwear. Needless to say, I’d kill for a PS3 and “Guitar Hero”. Not for any Hendrix aspirations I might have (I don’t), but just because it appeals to my inner teenager.

I also happen to live in a household with widely disagreeing musical tastes. The Resident Buttkicker has a shady past as a Deadhead, and man, I can’t stand ’em. Phish are even worse. I keep wanting to slap them across the backside and say “start playing a TUNE for a change!” We can agree on a lot of things – grunge, Beatles, quite a few classic buttrock bands. Even classical music, for that matter, a big part of my own culture-vultured childhood. I have not. however, introduced him to Wagner. I left that to Chuck Jones. Certain composers you have to work up to, in metal as in opera. Or even opera.

My son, on the other hand, thinks Peanuts TV cartoons are the epitome of musical sophistication. He loves all music, except Mom’s favorite guilty pleasure, because they scare him. Fair enough. He’s four. I am a good deal older than four, and sometimes, they scare me.

Me? I am nothing if not eclectic. I love folk metal and blues and Celtic music, I love classic jazz and Mozart, I love the Beatles and Beethoven and Van Halen and AC/DC, Nirvana and Pearl Jam and U2 and The Gossip and White Zombie and Rob Zombie and My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins and the Cure and the Cult and Soundgarden and My Dying Bride and a whole bunch of Danish bands no one knows about outside of Schleswig-Holstein and, and – oh, yeah. The guilty pleasure. The band I shouldn’t love so much, but heaven help me, I do. I apologize. Really.

So it follows that in my personal little monarchy, I would have knighted the inventors of the iPod. What I did before the days of the iPod and iTunes. I can tell you. I once spilled coffee all over my Sony Discman. It died, not quietly. I suffered, also not quietly.

Bummer, dude!

Therefore, furthering my own unique brand of solipcism and ego-tripping in the blogosphere (an honored occupation), I hencewith offer my Rock’n’roll Redemption Infinite Playlist. The songs I would want played at my funeral, the ones I wish were played at my wedding, the ones that can take any mood I may be in and turn the volume control to “happy” or “ecstatic”. The ones I misspent my wanton youth to. The ones I had one-knight stands to. The ones that make the big, bad wolf of the world go far, far away – or come closer still, depending on my mood. (See “guilty pleasures”).

Some are entire albums, simply because I’m a wimp and also because the whole enchilada is a work of towering genius without one misplaced note or drumbeat. Musical Mikado – take out one note, one riff, one wet, lascivious, luscious lick, and the whole towering edifice would crumble into dust. All of them are in no particular order of pre-eminence, except for the guilty pleasure.

You will likely disagree. So? It’s my blog and I can make noise if I want to.

Best “1983” song:
Van Halen, “Jump” (1984, 1983)
When it comes to impersonating a 16-year-old teenaged male, David Lee Roth wins, no contest. He’s practically turned it into his entire career. Love him or loathe him. I surrendered a long time ago. This song brings me back in an eyeblink and a keyboard riff to 1983, when every weekend was a party and life was an ice-cream cone and all you had to do was lap it up like soft-serve. So I did. And I still do, whenever I hear this song.

Best “Life is A Flawless Work of Infinite Beauty” Song:
Cocteau Twins, “Iceblink Luck” (Heaven or Las Vegas, 1989)
There are few words for how much I love this. Rumor has it that several mental institutions are filled with those poor hapless souls who tried to figure out precisely what Elizabeth Frazier was singing, but me – I don’t care. It’s beautiful. Perfect, and purrfect. I wish I had this played at my wedding. Unfortunately, my Republican mother-in-law would never have approved. Too bad. This is musical nirvana, and always makes me float away on little fluffy pink-tinged clouds of bliss.

Best “One Knight Stand In a Dark Inner-City Courtyard at 5 AM” Song:
AC/DC, “Thunderstruck”(The Razor’s Edge, 1990)
AC/DC is one of the very best bands in the world for pure, undiluted, unadulterated and utterly unapologetic rock and roll. No excuses. No pretensions. All id, all the time. So, this is a song best enjoyed without underwear. But with an available and utterly unsuitable knight who just happened by a nice set of jugs fuelled by slightly too much tequila and free condoms in a dark bar. Lust is a many-splendored thing. This is what mine sounded like in my Wild Woman days.

Best “Now And Then And Hopefully Many years From Now” Song:
Metallica, “Nothing Else Matters” (Metallica, 1991)
In my part of the world, and in my generation, Metallica is considered a national treasure. Well, even after all those years in the US, Lars Ulrich is still a Dane. All hail the beast! If the Buttkicker and I have a song we’ve claimed as our own – no easy task when we disagree on so much music, I’ll have you know – this would be it. Because no matter what happens, no matter what the completely clueless, careless rest of the planet thinks, nothing else does matter. He’s here. So am I. Basta! Fuck what they think!

Best “Let’s Make a Baby” Song:
Tears for Fears, “Sowing the Seeds of Love” (The Seeds of Love, 1989)
A cheap shot, I will admit. But Tears for Fears, one of the better pop-rock bands of the Eighties, did Great, Big and Bombastic beautifully. This fits the bill as the ultimate reason for procreating, as opposed to by accident. So it’s Eighties. So what. Somewhere on my internal FM station, this was playing that early spring day the Buttkicker and I made Damien, the Sequel.

Best “So Jazzed And Hip It Almost Hurts” Song:
Donald Fagen, “Springtime” (Kamakiriad, 1993)
Donald Fagen, whatever else anyone might say about him, makes albums that are, quite literally, technically flawless. The hip and happening jazzy, boozy, smoky bebopping and harmonics might be someone else’s idea of a nightmare. There’s a thick undertone of irony and more than a touch of the sardonic in his voice that you either hate or love. Me – I love it. Yowee! It’s Connie Lee, at the wheel of her Shark de Ville! We’re cruising about a thousand miles an hour, but the car is standing still! It’s cool. It’s jazzin, man. It’s terminally and fatally hip! It – swings, man! Get off at Laughing Pines and drive into springtime! Are we there yet? Who cares? Jazz it, baby!

Best “2009 Anthem Theme Mantra” Song:
Ozzy Osbourne, “No More Tears” (No More Tears, 1991)
All hail the mighty Ozzman. For that matter, what would metal be without Black Sabbath? Whenever I need to feel righteous, or just righteously indignated and need to bite the world in the tail, this is what I listen to. The lyrics are not the point. It rocks. It rolls. It moves me. It’s my mantra for this year. That’s right. No more tears. Enough of the bs!

Best Underrated Hairbrush Solo Song:
The Cult, “She Sells Sanctuary” (Love, 1985)
Billy Duffy, guitarist of the Cult, back in the day when they were really, really, really great, gives his all here, and cooks up a devilish riff I dare you to get out of your head without chemical help. I am the worst dancer on the planet, with the possible exception of the Buttkicker, not that that ever stopped us. But I can’t stop moving to this one – with or without a hairbrush.

Best “Whatever Reason And No Reason At All” album:
Beatles, “Rubber Soul” (1965)
Now, an album. I can’t pick. I’ve tried. On countless occasions. Ain’t happening. I take one song, and I want them all. Not one bad song on the album. Not one bad note, even. And this one album influenced not one, but several generations of songwriters, some of whom weren’t even born when it came out. *Nuff said! Listen, or die trying!

Best “To Be Taken At Face Value – Never, Never, Ever” Song:
Carnivore, “Male Supremacy” (Carnivore, 1986)
Uuuuuh, this is where things get dangerous, where the wild things are, where – well, you really, truly do not want to know. Certain things should not be mentioned in daylight. Thrash metal is an acquired taste I must have acquired back in the very early Eighties when I hung out in a now non-existent high temple of punk rock known as the Salt Warehouse. This is not a song I play for anyone I haven’t known for at least twenty years, with the Buttkicker as the exception in our courting days. (litmus test!). Raw meat is flung around at Carnivore concerts, and sometimes livers, too. Musical metaphor, artistical statement, or just a bunch of now forty-something benighted teenagers seeing what outrageousness they can get away with? My money is on the latter. Lyrics, as a rule, don’t make me laugh until I cry, but these did. Testosterone as satire. And irony. And a thick dose of sarcasm. Wowee!

“Best Song Ever To Be Ruined By A Commercial”:
The Cure, “Pictures of You” (Disintegration, 1989)
Ah, dear old The Cure. They have a special place in my heart. They always have, and they always will. Robert Smith, the man I wanted to marry when I grew up and thankfully, didn’t, does deceptively simple and elegantly catchy tunes that still hold water many, many years later. He’s one of the few gsuys my sister and I can always agree upon. We can even, to this day, turn another song from “Disintegration” into an instant duet – “Kyoto Song”. His lyrics satisfy your intellect, his tunes satisfy your soul. Unfortunately, HP hijacked it for a printer/digital camera commercial, and for that, I shall perpetually boycott all HP products forever. But this is – beautiful. No wonder they hijacked it.

Best “Hairbrush Air Guitar Solo” Song:
Pantera, “I’m broken” (Far Beyond Driven, 1994)
This one takes no prisoners, except middle-aged teenaged women vainly trying to recapture their misspent youth by playing air guitar on their hairbrush in their underwear, the not-for-public-display variety. Dimebag, I’m not worthy! Really, I’m not!
Then again, I strongly suspect you wouldn’t mind, and might even approve. You were – that kind of guy!

Best “Despair Never Sounded So Beautiful Before Or Since” Song:
Type O Negative, “Anesthesia” (Life Is Killing Me, 2003)
OK, OK. True confessions. My very, very, very guilty pleasure. I really, truly should not like this band. They have, on occasion, spooked me senseless and scared me shiteless. They have, on other occasions – well, you don’t want to know. But Type O Negative, for all their Black Sabbath meets the Beatles aspirations, sound not quite like anything else out there. They didn’t in the beginning, back in 1991, and they don’t today. They dole out albums with eyedroppers at long intervals, and they never, ever repeat themselves, or do what you expect. In this day and age of rampant commercialism, that’s quite refreshing, if only for a change. They could fill stadiums with their armies of diehard fans. They’re so hip, they don’t want to! Here, they’ve outdone their gloom-and-doom. Peter Steele looks into the abyss, and just as it did for Nietzsche, the abyss looks back. If you ever wanted to know what a primal scream sounds like, search no further. The hairs on your neck will take hours to lie down.

To be continued…

Agree? Disagree? Let me know. Or die trying!

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You think you’ve landed on one of those useless, time-consuming, time-wasting blogs that are basically just another form of verbal – errr – masturbation. let’s say. You think that with a blog name like this, the owner and creator is either:

a) a 440 lb exceedingly frustrated housewife in a trailer park in AR, who has five snotty kids and a husband who works just over the road in Bentonville, whose name is Dwayne.
b) a 440 lb former biker named Dwayne, NOT in AR
or
c) both of the above, they really are in AR and it’s the inside joke of the week at the local dive.

You would be wrong.

You would, one way or the other, be conforming to the expected stereotype, that there are things someone my age, and my demographic should never, ever do.

Man, I’m so insulted.

For starters – I am not even in AR. Or even the US. I am not 440 lbs, I have not one body modification except for two pierced earlobes, and I own no tatoos. Not one. I have, however, been known to wear black. A lot. You can take a girl out of Goth(am), but you can’t take the Goth out of the girl.

Besides, I’m 5’2″. I need all the help I can get.

I have also been known to puncture holes ihn the minds and egos of those who think that there are certain things women “my age” (I’m 45, and so what, so get over it already!) do not do, and that is have a definite predilection for music, art and other forms of human creative expression that are, well, toward the darker end of the scale.

And lo, and behold – I have discovered to my dismay and seeming disbelief, that the literacy level is either so high you will never, ever get any of the esoteric references that are spewed like forgotten pearls in every other sentence, or else will appeal mainly to troglodytes who communicate only in grunts.

So what’s a woman of literary inclination to do? Where to rhapsodize over the virtues of playing air guitar on your hairbrush in your underwear? The questionable delights of maintaining your tinnitus with liberal doses of Megadeth (before Mustaine was brain-processed by his personal Messiah)? Where can I get enlisted for the Kiss Army?

And where can I dump all political correctness and stereotypes by the wayside when it’s really, honestly, all rock’n’roll to me?

Here.

Reader, beware!