By Will Stroock
In that dark, dark winter of
1988, when I was 14 years old and simultaneously failing most of
my classes, on permanent lunch detention (no joke) and was
unable to get any girl to go out with me, I found a movement
that knew my pain. It was heavy metal. These guys had the
solution for those teachers who hated me and preps that cared
about grades; the finger.
We all know the songs and videos
and no recapping should be necessary, save for a few quotes,
which will get the point across.
Twisted Sister's ‘Well all I
got to say to you when you tell me not to play I say NO,’ and of
course, ‘We’re right/we're free/we’ll fight/you’ll see.’ Or Iron
Maiden's, ‘Lord give me the strength to hold my head up/spit
BACK in their face.’ You get the idea.
OK, I wasn’t mister hardcore metal, I
wasn’t wearing Overkill or Slayer T-shirts, in fact my early taste was
to the lighter stuff like Def Leppard. I still remember the first time I
saw the ‘Poor Some Sugar On Me’ video. But I liked hard stuff, Metallica
& Ozzie, later Zeppelin and Maiden. Actually, the main character in my
Gulf War novel, Sgt. Jake Bloom, loves Zeppelin and even has the runes
painted on the side of tank.
Metal, at its best, is about freedom, but also it is about the
disenfranchised. Go back and look at the ‘I Wanna Rock’ video, look
at that fat, ugly pimply faced kid who is getting it from Neidermayer.
You think he cares about the honor roll, or the pep rally? I know I
didn’t. And let me tell you something, when you’re not ‘participating,’
when you just can’t make yourself care about your English homework,
you’re invisible, you’re not even there.
Dee Snider and the band lead the students out of class and into
the auditorium. This isn’t just music, it’s a revolution, and those
T-shirts were the banner. Everyone knew who the metalheads were, and
metalheads knew who they were. The music means something, its stands for
something, I don’t think a lot of people got that (ironically, the only
people who probably did understand were the dead heads, who were just as
fanatical). On an episode of ‘That Metal Show,’ I saw Eddie Trunk
ranting about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s reluctance to admit metal
bands. He misses the point. When we want into the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame we’ll break in and take it by force.
The only thing metalheads ever wanted
from anyone else was space, a simple nod of respect, maybe for someone
to say, ‘OK, your music isn’t my cup of tea, but I see where you’re
coming from.’ We never got it. But you know what? No one knows who Cat
Stevens is anymore because he changed his name, while Maiden and ACDC
are selling out the arenas (I saw it with my own eyes), and the kids are
wearing the same metal shirts I wore 20 years ago. Think about that next
time you’re strumming ‘Peace Train,’ and screw you ’89 Grammys.
For all that that classic teen rebellion
you know what the funny thing is? I’ve been a substitute high school
teacher and a middle school social studies teacher. Today, I’m a college
adjunct. I am the establishment. But sometimes, I wear an Iron Maiden
tie to class.