It seems there comes a time in everyone”s young life when they start listening to music. Soon after, usually between the ages of ten and 15, we actually become aware of what we are listening to. It seems that those early years set the groundwork for what will later become our “taste” in music.
My musically-fundamental years came between 1985 and 1993. For over half a glorious decade I could turn on the radio and get pumped to the testosto-rock of Bon Jovi, Skid Row and Motley Crue, groove to the old-school gangsta” rap of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, revel in the haunting power ballads of Heart, Poison and Winger. Then Nirvana came along and radio just went to shit. Years of angst-ridden grunge soured me on FM radio and I retreated in to my CD collection.
But guess what? The “80s are back, people. Take a look around and you”ll see jean jackets and hoop earrings galore. Next thing you know, we”re going to back to the good old days of O-Rings, Spandex and crimped hair (don”t forget the Aqua Net.) Yeah, baby! I can”t wait.
Given this certitude, I figured it was time to come up with a little list. I”m sure you have all seen that “Everything I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten” thing, right? Personally, I think that”s bull. I learned more from music in the late “80s and early “90s than I ever did in kindergarten. Therefore, I respectfully submit this list of life”s little lessons, all of which can be found on a cheesy “80s station near you.
n The Lesson: Do unto others.
The Source: “Round and Round,” by Ratt. Yeah, I know all about the Golden Rule, but never was it so poignantly expressed as by Steven Pearcy and the rest of the boys from Ratt. “Round and round what comes around goes around. I”ll tell you why!” If that doesn”t get you psyched to do a good deed, I don”t know what will.
n The Lesson: Be Tolerant of Others.
The Source: “People are People,” by Depeche Mode. I could have used a line from “Personal Jesus” here, but I think this song begs the “Why can”t we just get along” question as well as any source I can think of.
n The Lesson: Know Survival Techniques.
The Source: “Stand,” by REM. “If you are confused, check with the sun. Carry a compass to help you along.” You can be sure these guys would do okay on “Survivor II.”
n The Lesson: STD Awareness.
The Source: “Love is a Social Disease,” by Bon Jovi. Forget about sex ed, people. I got a head-start on my education by listening to this tune from Slippery When Wet.
n The Lesson: Social Activism.
The Source: “Fight for Your Right (to Party),” by the Beastie Boys. There comes a time in everyone”s life when they discover that there are certain inalienable rights you have to stand up for. Thank you Ad-Rock, MCA, and Mike D.
n The Lesson: Size Does Matter.
The Source: “Everything Counts,” by Depeche Mode. Sorry, I couldn”t resist. But why else would they say “Everything counts in large amounts?”
n The Lesson: Realpolitik is True.
The Source: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” by Tears for Fears. Long before I ever heard of Organski, the haunting vocals of Roland Orzabal informed me that people are selfish and states always seek to maximize power.
n The Lesson: Family Values.
The Source: “Home Sweet Home,” by Motley Crue. Even tough guys can have “hearts of gold” and “romantic dreams.” The Republicans can talk about family values until they are blue in the face but anyone familiar with this landmark power ballad can give you the lowdown.
n The Lesson: Aussies Are Fuckin” Weird.
The Source: “Land Down Under,” by Men at Work. What the hell is a vegemite sandwich, anyway?
n The Lesson: Temper Your Expectations.
The Source: “Every Rose Has It”s Thorn,” by Poison. (C”mon sing with me!!) “Just like every night has it”s dawn. Just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song.” I became a cynic at a young age, due in large part to Bret Michaels telling me not to get my hopes up too high.
n The Lesson: Violence is Bad.
The Source: “Today Was a Good Day,” by Ice Cube. When a bad mamma-jamma like Ice Cube tells you he”s happy because he didn”t have to use his AK, you better take heed, people.
n The Lesson: Cops Don”t Get Paid Squat.
The Source: “Empire,” by Queensryche. “In the fiscal year 1986-87, the state and federal governments spent a combined total of 60.6 million on law enforcement. Law enforcement accounted for only 6 percent of federal spending. By way of comparison, the federal government spent 24 million more on space exploration and 43 times more on national defense than on law enforcement.” Not a good career choice, folks.
n The Lesson: It”s Okay To Be Gay.
The Source: “Wit” Dre Day,” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. I don”t care what the church says, if a guy as cool as Snoop Dogg can come out of the closet with a blatant admission of homosexuality (“With my nutz on your tonsils…”) then it”s okay by me. You go, Snoop!
Branden Sanz column runs on Wednesdays. He can be reached at the next Warrant concert near you or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.