Honey, I Love You, But I Love Attention More So Shut Your Piehole And Go Live With Gary Busey For Awhile So I Can Be On Television

January 3, 2012

I don’t do reality television. Watching nimrods behaving like nimrods is not entertainment for me.

(I work in corporate America)

But I couldn’t help but be drawn to a commercial for Celebrity Wife Swap. Amidst the flotsam and jetsam of Dee Snider, Flavor Flav and other past-expiration date notables, there was Gary Busey.

I shuddered a bit as I realized that, though I have no idea who might reign as America’s idol, star dancer, or top chief, the idea of some C-list celebrity handing over his wife to Gary Busey – in exchange for his – intrigues me.

There’s something about the deranged leer of the hyper-orthodontal Busey that commands my attention.

It could be because I have feared that I might discover Busey hiding in the house since I saw him hiding in a house in the movie Hider In The House.

(I wrote of it many moons ago)

Busey also is shown in tears in the commercial and I can’t help but wonder what could have reduced him to such a state. It might be good to know how to effectively neutralize him should, indeed, I find Gary Busey hiding in the house.

In the meantime, here are four songs devoted to crazy…

Flesh for Lulu – I Go Crazy
from Long Live The New Flesh (1987)

In the mid-’80s, I remember a buzz for fifteen minutes or so surrounding Flesh For Lulu, but it passed in about ten minutes.

I Go Crazy has a catchy little chorus, but it does sound tied to 1987 (especially with the goofy lyrical reference to Miami Vice). I also seem to recall the gothic rockers sounding both more gothic and more rocking than they do here.

However, the song did end up on the soundtrack to John Hughes’ underrated Some Kind Of Wonderful, so I suppose Flesh For Lulu did achieve some measure of immortality.

Nazareth – Crazy? (A Suitable Case for Treatment)
from Heavy Metal soundtrack (1981)

I’m familiar with little by Nazareth aside from Love Hurts and its accompanying album, Hair Of The Dog. My buddy Will had an older brother and the eight track seemed to be permanently lodged in his Trans Am’s player.

One of the few other songs I knew by the Scottish band was Crazy? which was on the soundtrack to Heavy Metal, which as a teenager, was a late-night cable favorite with me and my friends.

Heart – Crazy On You
from Greatest Hits (1998)

Though Heart might have had a commercial lull in the early ’80s, the band remained popular on radio stations in our area of the Midwest. Then, the band exploded in the mid-’80s, notched a string of massive hits and platinum-selling albums that not only revived their career but took it to new heights.

Personally, I dug a lot of their mid- to late ’80s hits, but I preferred their less-varnished ’70s stuff. The ubiquitousness of that later period made it easy to forget how much raw energy the band possessed and how utterly fierce they could be.

And Crazy On You – made transcendent by Ann Wilson’s piercing banshee wail – was as fierce as a band could hope to be.

Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
from The Ozzman Cometh (1997)

I willingly confess I’ve always found Ozzy Osbourne to be goofy and not necessarily in a good way. I do not, have not, and – much to Paloma’s chagrin – probably will not ever have much affection for his work with Black Sabbath aside from a few songs

(as opposed to giving them credit as an influence for legions of bands, I blame them for a lot of very bad imitators)

But I have liked some of Ozzy’s solo stuff throughout the years and near the top of that list would have to be the thundering Crazy Train. And, as a recent television commercial has proven, the song is, at heart, simply a very heavy pop song.

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Thanks Reality Television For Ruining Meat Loaf For Me

April 2, 2011

Here and there – for what seems has been weeks now – I’ve seen a commercial for that reality show with Donald Trump and celebrities.

In the clip that’s caught my attention, Meat Loaf is threatening to go Fight Club on Gary Busey. It makes me uncomfortable to see Meat Loaf so worked up.

By the time I started purchasing music in ’81 or so, Meat Loaf’s career had bottomed out.

I don’t remember hearing anything on the radio from his second album, Dead Ringer in ’81. I didn’t hear anything from Midnight At The Lost And Found, album number three, either, but I do remember reading a review in the Sunday newspaper that was fairly positive.

Even as that album was being ignored in 1983, I was still hearing Meat Loaf on the radio as songs from the singer’s 1977 debut Bat Out Of Hell were part of the playlists on several of the stations to which I was listening.

Though I don’t remember any of my friends or classmates mentioning Meat Loaf in our conversations about music, I know that a lot of us had a copy of Bat Out Of Hell, some of them inherited from older siblings.

I had a cassette of the album that I’d dubbed from a friend.

Of course, that was it for the hefty fellow for fifteen years until his reunion with Bat Out Of Hell co-conspirator Jim Steinman for the sequel which sold millions of copies.

I vividly recall our jazz buyer picking up a copy of Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell in our stockroom, looking at the over-the-top cover, and – in his best crotchety old man voice – gruffly barking, “You kids get this damned bat off my building!”

Though the album didn’t really resonate with me, it was hard to begrudge Meat Loaf’s unexpected comeback and success.

He seemed like an affable fellow. Maybe it’s his size but I’ve always pictured Meat Loaf as a jolly fellow.

Maybe it’s because I’d read somewhere that Meat Loaf was a big baseball fan and could imagine the big guy taking me to a ball game.

Now the steroids, greed, and the disparity in spending amongst teams has essentially driven me from following baseball and Meat Loaf is screaming maniacally at Gary Busey on my television screen.

Maybe it’s a sign that there is peril ahead in 2012.

Of course, The Busey strikes me as the kind of fellow that could drive even the most zen being to a state of homicidal rage. Personally, I have expressed legitimate concerns that I might awake one morning to find that Gary Busey has been secretly living in our attic.

Whatever the case, my world has been turned upside down by the sight of an irate Meat Loaf screaming at Gary Busey. Here’s four songs from the ruffled-shirted fellow from happier times…

Meat Loaf – Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad
from Hits Out Of Hell

Meat Loaf – You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)
from Hits Out Of Hell

These first two tracks are, of course, from Bat Out Of Hell which currently ranks as one of the ten best-selling albums in the history of mankind. Though a mere seven songs, none of them are less than epic, so massive each that they are a capable of making women and children cry and grown men shudder.

As I was hearing Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad regularly on the radio during my musical formative years – even though the song had been a hit five or six years earlier – I had no idea that the folks that had been involved in constructing Bat Out Of Hell would soon be found on other albums I’d soon own including Todd Rundgren, members of Utopia, E-Street Band mates Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg as well as the underappreciated Ellen Foley.

As for You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night), the crazy opening dialogue always makes me go, “Huh?” but, like everything else on the album, it’s impossible to not get drawn in (and I dig the handclaps).

Meat Loaf – Dead Ringer For Love
from Hits Out Of Hell

Meat Loaf – Read ‘Em And Weep
from Hits Out Of Hell

It’s been well chronicled of the problems Meat Loaf had in putting together a follow-up to Bat Out Of Hell and those difficulties didn’t even include Gary Busey. Dead Ringer didn’t arrive until four years after Bat Out Of Hell which was an eternity in that era.

Though Jim Steinman, the maestro behind the debut, penned the songs for the follow-up his involvemenr in Dead Ringer was far less than it had been on Bat Out Of Hell. There was still a stellar cast of musicians – Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone, the great Mick Ronson, the legendary Nicky Hopkins – but I don’t think I heard a single track on radio.

(I was hearing Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through from Steinman’s solo effort Bad For Good which would later appear on Bat Out Of Hell II)

I suppose it would be difficult to recapture the initial surprise of Meat Loaf’s debut, but the singer’s duet on the near title track with Cher and the break-up ballad Read ‘Em And Weep – a hit for Barry Manilow a couple years later – wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the slightest beside the songs on Bat Out Of Hell.


I’d Rather Let The House Burn Down And Sit Here In My Own Filth

February 5, 2011

As a kid, I wasted a lot of time hanging with an odd schoolmate whose mother taught bellydancing and father looked like Mike Brady mostly for the opportunity to play Pong.

I must have been ten or so and already blowing the little coin I had at that age on pinball and air hockey at the bowling alley, but Pong had all my friends boggle-eyed and hooked.

A cursor batted back and forth between two other cursors on the television screen in the den at Tony’s house had the same effect on us as that monolith had on the monkeys at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

We were all twelve or thirteen when the first wave of major arcade games – Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pac-Man – began to arrive and. like certain songs or albums, each of them would help define a period of months.

We all eventually had an Atari system at home and even a town as small as ours had an arcade that was a social hub for junior high and high school kids.

It all kind of ended for me in ’83 or so, around the time when we got our driver’s licenses. Cable and home video were also becoming available, so there were more options for entertainment.

And music had become my dominant interest.

By college, video games seemed like something from another era (even if it had only been five years since Pac-Man had become the Jaws of video games)

There was a brutal stretch of winter in February of ’89 when three housemates and I surrendered, embraced the weather-induced malaise and vowed to not leave the house unless no option existed to blow off work or class.

Instead, we hunkered down, ordered a lot of pizza and played computer baseball ’round the clock. Each of us had two teams and we played much of an entire season before March arrived.

One of my last brushes with videogames happened about a decade ago, coinciding with my first office gig. Though it was a relatively casual job, it was still a disorienting experience and I remembered what an escape videogames had once provided.

So, I snagged a copy of The Sims, “a simulation of the daily activities of one or more virtual persons (“Sims”) in a suburban household near SimCity.”

For a week or so, I was enthralled with the game as I attempted to maximize the happiness of my avatars. I was spending a lot the time when I wasn’t working sending my onscreen Sim to work so that it could acquire a home, pay bills, and buy stuff.

It quickly became exhausting.

I was spending my free time doing the very things in a virtual world – working, paying bills, cooking, taking out the trash – that I found mundane and unappealing in the real world.

Soon, the entertainment value of the game was simply when something went awry – the Rain Man-like behavior of my Sim when something caught fire or the Pig Pen-esque cloud that would develop when I’d neglect to have a character shower.

It was then that I realized that I had enough trouble being a human being in real life and, if I was going to escape from that world, I’d rather be blasting space rocks or eating a maze of dots.

Here are four songs which address the idea of being human…

White Zombie – More Human Than Human
from Astro Creep: 2000 – Songs of Love, Destruction And Other Synthetic Delusions Of The Electric Head

Science fiction fans recognize the title of White Zombie’s best-known song as the motto of the Tyrell Corporation from the classic flick Blade Runner. I’ve always found the supercharged track to be the sonic equivilant of a shot of adrenalin to the heart.

I met Rob Zombie at a record store where I worked and he seemed like a good guy – very polite, very soft spoken.

Michael Jackson – Human Nature
from Thriller

You only get to discover fire once, but, apparently, Jackson was obsessed with trying to recapture the unparalleled success of Thriller for the rest of his life.

Personally, I always thought that the lush, dreamy Human Nature, despite being a massive hit in the late summer of 1983, was the most underrated song on the album.

Rick Springfield – Human Touch
from Living In Oz

Even in 1983 – which, technologically speaking, now seems as advanced as 1883 – Rick Springfield was lamenting the disconnect between man and machine in Human Touch.

At the time, I was unaware that actors weren’t supposed to sing (and, usually, with good reason). Of course, I doubt that I was aware that Rick Springfield was a soap opera star aside from a DJ or Casey Kasem mentioning it.

But Springfield had a string of hits in the early ’80s that were undeniably catchy and still sound pretty good all of these years later.

Björk – Human Behaviour
from Debut

I find Iceland’s finest export to be utterly charming and completely fascinating while, at the same time, being respectfully terrified of the former Sugarcube.

It was impossible not to be drawn in by Human Behaviour‘s strking video, but the hypnotic song – which contains a sample of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Go Down Dying – is as equally arresting.

“If you ever get close to a human
And human behaviour
Be ready be ready to get confused.”

Yeah, that pretty much sums it all up.