Friday, September 03, 2010

Songs I Used to Think Were Awesome, Part 11

My favorite Judas Priest song. I'm noticing that a lot of the Songs I Used to Think Were Awesome (this one, "Swords and Tequila," "Crash and Burn") are basically the same song, or at least have that same intro pattern. I used to be a huge Judas Priest fan when I was about 13-15. Then I sort of grew out of them. I guess there is no other band that I was that into for an extended period of time, that I then completely disowned. They just happened to be sitting on the fault line when my aesthetic changed. Stuff like AC/DC, Aerosmith and Van Halen I stuck with, because they made fun rock-n-roll records that really swung. Judas Priest, by the time I was 18, just seemed very stiff and way too slick. I heard a lot of what I disliked about a band like Rush in Judas Priest. As the concept of "heavy" got replaced by "noisy" in my vocabulary, they began to feel weak. To put it another way, the best rock-n-roll feels like driving fast with the top down on a summer night. Judas Priest feel more like the fetishized sports car itself, all slick, gleaming chrome, polished fiberglass and precision machinery.

Now? You know, I really kind of gave up on this whole idea of dividing music up into "good" and "bad." Music is like a great cathedral, and it doesn't really make sense to go through the cathedral saying "this brick rules!" and "this brick fucking sucks!" So sometimes, I'll be in the car with the classic rock station on, and a song by Journey or Boston will come on, some shit that I've always hated, and I find myself turning the volume up. Why not? I mean, I can't imagine I'd ever go out and buy a Journey record, but I can't really see harboring much animosity toward them.

Maybe this process started in college, where my roommate David made me listen to Depeche Mode and New Order and shit, and eventually I got to appreciate the stuff. Again, it's still not really my cup o' tea, but it's fine music, and the key to getting into it was getting to know David, what made him tick, and hearing it through his ears. So I have no real problem with Journey or Boston now, because I can hear them from the point of view of a Journey fan. Journey are great at being exactly what they are, and Boston are great at being Boston. Even Yes, a band that still irritates me, have their own thing going on, and it's cool. I mean, I happen to think The Stooges made some very enjoyable music, and Yes, uh, didn't, but I no longer believe there is some idealogical justification for my taste. It was kind of necessary that Yes had to exist, to be part of The Great Cathedral. And Judas Priest? I reckon they're pretty damn great at being Judas Priest.

There's probably some subtext there as well. At the age of 13, I was, like most boys of that age, very insecure, and doubtful that I was sufficiently masculine. There was probably a reason why I made a big deal out of the fact that I was into AC/DC and not Journey. I don't want to make too much of this--fact is, I genuinely liked one over the other--but surely there was some message about myself that I was desperate to tell people. As I got further into my early adolescence, there's a progression, as Aerosmith and Van Halen gave way to Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, bands that were more and more repressively "masculine" and aggressive. I probably dug Judas Priest because they were making the most masculine music I could imagine. I mean,come on, if I were gay would I be listening to something as badass as Judas Priest?


Anyway, check out the feedback on this bad boy. I kinda like how Rob Halford uses his voice almost as another guitar. Motherfucker had some pipes on him.


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