Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Back To School!

"The teacher preaches class like you're some kind of jerk"

My daughters began another school year yesterday. Emmy is now a 4th grader and Harper Lee began the 1st grade. It's been a school supply scramble the last few days, but everything will be all squared away once Harp's backpack arrives from L.L. Bean. It's only natural for the grown-up's thoughts to go back to their school days during this time. So let's go back. Way back to those troglodyte times during the fall of 1983.

Feast your eyes on one of the heavy metal slash pesky new waver notebooks from my junior year at Riverdale. I believe it was for the basic math course I took that year since the back has the slogan "Michelle DeWitt was here!" emblazoned upon the back. She was a cute little brunette that would flirt and joke around with me during the terminally boring class. But I'm not here to go on about schoolboy crushes. No, we're not doing that Average White Band thing here even if the breakbeat in "Pick Up The Pieces" does take me back. What is of interest is the front of this paper folder with its glorious roll call of band names and logos screaming off the cover who I was circa September 1983.

First, the non-band stuff:

Presidential campaign stickers came later.
San Francisco 49'ers #1
Take off you knob, eh
Eh? Take off! You hoser
5150 - as this predates the Van Hagar era it was either a Mob Rules reference or perhaps I had picked it up from reading about Eddie Van Halen's home studio.

The groups:

Ozzy Osbourne with a tombstone reading RR RIP - Ozzy was just not the same without Randy Rhoads, but he was still one of the top dogs of metal in 1983 - a combo package of goofiness and evil.

Black Sabbath - One look at my devil dude artwork and you could tell that I didn't have a future as an artist.

Twisted Sister logo staples - I always did like cartoons and Twisted Sister were a heavy metal one.

Motley Crue - I took German so I always loved umlaut bands. I'm html challenged so there's none in this post. Maybe I should have paid more attentiion in school instead of writing band names all over my folders.

IRON MAIDEN with the obligatory attempt at drawing their mascot Eddie below - Big and bold. Black ink with a ruler. I made an Eddie button once in high school. I brought in Powerslave my senior year so we could play "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" in English class. I picked disc jockey as my profession for the marriage project in sociology class. When Mr. Van Zant asked me what kind of music I would play I told him heavy metal like Iron Maiden, specifically "22 Acacia Avenue." Somebody snickered so he asked what the song was about and I replied in deadpan, "prostitution." The subject was then closed and I made an A for the project. One last Maiden memory: Kirk Faulkner rode his unicyle during the senior talent show to my favorite Maiden song "Revelations."

VAN HALEN #1 - 'Nuff said.

Ratt sucks - Back then I thought they were a bubblegum metal band. I still think they're bubblegum, but I'd much rather hear them now instead of Twisted Sister.

The Doors with a tombstone reading RIP JDM - James Douglas Morrison, how many children did you corrupt with your liquor, poetry, and doom schtick. Like the "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop" I guess we'll never know.

Boston - Smooth rocking. Too bad I couldn't draw their guitar spaceship logo.

Molly Hatchet - I had outgrown my Flirtin' With Disaster tee shirt by then, but I was still representing.

Michael Schenker Group - Flying V's, cutout bin cassette Assault Attack, Graham Bonnett, Rudolf's brother, former Scorpion, and a cheap tee shirt bought at Port o' Call records. Thus endeth my knowledge of Michael Schenker then and now.

Billy Idol - First of the New Wave interlopers. I mainly liked him for "Eyes Without A Face" and the line "reading murder books and trying to stay hip."

Blue Oyster Cult symbol - I had their first album, Agents Of Fortune, and Fire Of Unknown back then and all were on cassette. Later, my appreciation of the band would grow to "Godzilla" size.

U2 - "Sunday Bloody Sunday" still rocks.

Talking Heads - This one was a head scratcher back then for my friends. U2 and Billy Idol weren't heavy metal, but they did feature guitar as a lead instrument, but the Talking Heads just didn't seem to belong. I begged to differ then and now. "Psycho Killer" is an awesome paranoid masterpiece and the entire Fear Of Music album is heavy in its own sort of way.

Dokken - Rhymes with rockin'!

Y & T - Yesterday & Today are probably the leading candidate for lamest act on this notebook. Now I've ticked off a couple of Y & T fans. Sorry.

Kick Axe - Dead or Canadian?

DIO - Another attempt at a logo. I think if you look at it backwards it will spell gullible. I'm referring to the devil stuff and not the music, because I still like me some DIO. Did you catch Anthony Bourdain rocking the DIO tee shirt on No Reservations the other night?

Manowar - Ridiculous. Over the top. Leather and fur wearing beasts. What's not to like about Manowar.

Motorhead - The greatest umlaut band of them all. Sorry B.O.C., Lemmy and the boys just nip you at the finish line. I would talk myself hoarse back then extolling the praises of the Iron Fist album. Just ask the Gonz.

Thin Lizzy - The only argument about Thin Lizzy was how to pronounce the name. Was it Thin or Tin with the H silent. There was no arguing their greatness.

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - The Gonz and I agreed. We could forgive Stevie Ray for doing that Bowie album.

Saxon - Harry Shearer cam along for their tour in 1981 and the rest is history. Yes, without Saxon their might not have been a Spinal Tap.

White Animals - Nashville homeboys! Might not have been metal, but you could still slamdance to them.

RUSH - They were mutating into something not as heavy at the time and we were mutating right with them. Imagine the "Neil Peart is the best drummer" conversation starters at schools all across America. I bet there were millions every day.

Pink Floyd - I've never gotten off the Floyd. Heavy metal couldn't get me to dislike them and neither did punk. Just accept it. They are a decent group even if the alarm clocks always wake you up after you've nodded off listening to Dark Side Of The Moon.

Tokyo Blade logo - I'll admit I didn't remember this right off. I knew it was something Blade and that they were a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band. So I looked it up on Wikipedia and the mystery is solved. I wish we had the internet when I was 16.

Sweet - I'm actually a little bit surprised that I was into them back then.

Judas Priest - They were riding high back then. As for Halford's orientation - none of us had a clue. Would we have cared? Maybe.

Queen - But then again, we didn't have any doubts about Freddie Mercury and we still liked Queen.

Riot - Sort of obscure back then and I guess they still are, but most will agree that Restless Breed is a classic.

Whitesnake - The pre-Tawny days. All you needed to sell albums was a giant snake entwined around a naked woman on your album cover and a vocalist that sounded like Robert Plant who wasn't Billy Squier or Ann Wilson.

Journey - They were a guilty pleasure even back then. Plus you needed to have a few bands that girls liked on your folder or you'd really be a social zero.

Venom - From dinosaur corporate rock to Satanic thrash in less than an inch of paper. That will make one's head spin.

KISS - Just a few years previously they would have been at the top in gigantic letters. I just hope Gene Simmons doesn't come sniffing around wanting me to pay for the use of their name on the blog.

Black Oak Arkansas - I got into them back then because David Lee Roth had been compared to Jim Dandy, and because the drummer on Ozzy's Diary Of A Madman, Tommy Aldridge, had also played drums for Black Oak Arkansas.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Play "Freebird!"

Led Zeppelin - I never considered them the pinnacle of the rock universe like so many others. I always preferred Sabbath. Still, anyone who would deny a place on their folder to Led Zep would probably be struck dead by some spell cast by Jimmy Page. Imagine the "John Bonham was the best drummer" conversation starters at schools all across America. I bet there were millions every day.

Sammy Hagar - The Red Rocker. Ain't it funny how pedestrian his solo work is considering he can't drive 55. That first Montrose album is one for the ages though and Sammy seems like he's a decent guy.

Scorpions - We all went ape for the Blackout era Scorps and the great "No One Like You" Alcatrazz prison video.

AC/DC - If it had been 8th or 9th grade Angus and company might have held the top spot, but they were flickering like a faulty wire by this time. They came back though.

Deep Purple - Peer pressure....that's the only explanation. Maybe Blackmore.

Joe Walsh - The "Life's Been Good To Me So Far" Joe Walsh. Not the Eagles Joe Walsh. He was held in high esteem as one of those guitarists that had a sound you could instantly recognize like Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Randy Rhoads, Angus Young, Ace Frehley, Brian May, and Tony Iommi to name but a few,

The WHO - Imagine the "Keith Moon was the best drummer" conversation starters at schools all across America. I bet there were millions every day. Is there a bloody echo in this blog? The Who should have been more prominent on this folder.

Ted Nugent - The Motor City Madman was waning in popularity from mega-star to a mere star in the rock world, but to us he was still mega and is to this day.

Bronz - Another New Wave Of British Heavy Metal entry. If I'd only had Diamond Head on this notebook I would have really been cool.

Jimi Hendrix Experience with a tombstone reading RIP underneath - The rumour was he once played some gigs in Murfreesboro at a place called the Weeping Willow Lounge just off College Street. It should have been made a historical landmark but it was torn down to make way for the Medical Center Parkway.

ZZ Top - Another group who were at the peak of their fame. I'd get to meet Billy Gibbons years later and get his autograph for the Gonz.

Krokus - More Gonz fun. My old Dislocated bandmate's first name is Mark. So when Krokus made it big he swiped their logo and started signing his name as Markus. The refried AC/DC boogie sticks out to me now in a bad way, but back then I didn't care preferring One Vice At A Time over Headhunter.

Queensryche - Man, this last little bit is turning into the Gonz hour. But one does have to give props where it's due. The Gonz lived north of Murfreesboro and on a good night he could tune into Vol State's student radio station which played a steady diet of hesher music. That's where we first heard Dokken and it's also how he found out about Queensryche.

Big Country - Guitars that sounded like bagpipes! Worth a spot on the folder.

Some triangle logo - it might stand for a band and it might just be something I made up.

Notable absences:

Def Leppard - Pyromania came out in January of 1983 and I was one of the millions who bought it. Maybe I was getting sick of them by September.

Cheap Trick - There was a girl in my graphic arts class who thought Cheap Trick were the greatest band in the world. The boy she was dating even looked like Robin Zander. She would always mark up my folders with the Cheap Trick logo, but somehow this math class one escaped her.

So what can be learned from a 25 year old folder. Perhaps it was a way of expressing my identity in an oppressive world of parents, teachers, and all of those other kids that only liked what they heard on Top 40 radio. Mayber it was a way of trying to be visibile in a world in which I felt invisible. Or it was a tiny tremor of rebellion in a sedate setting. It was definitely an attempt to seem cool. Maybe it was a cry for help. I don't know myself since I've lost touch with the 16 year old Wally ages ago.

Most likely, the folder was the product of a bored teenager amusing himself by writing the names of the bands he loved and some he barely knew and some he barely liked on to a yellow thirty cent folder. I'd come home after school and crank up the stereo and my parents would tell me to turn the music down and how could I stand such crap and that Black Sabbath were evil and they lamented over what would become of me.

Well, I've got two daughters ready to start another school year and a son who wishes he was old enough to go and Harp's backpack came during lunch. I hold down a job, been married for 12 years, and I've got a few friends here and there. I coach Junior Pro basketball. I can play guitar and sort of play the drums. I blog. I get to travel every now and then. I think I've turned out fairly decent. And I'll bet those high school kids of today marking up their folders with their favorite bands that make the adults cringe will turn out all right too.

No comments: