Close Encounters Of The Cheap Trick Kind

June 12, 2008

As I believe I have mentioned in an earlier entry, Paloma and I will soon be attending her family reunion where I intend to grill her father and grandfather – both retired Air Force colonels – about our government’s knowledge of extraterrestrial life. As such is the case, I’ve been thinking about the aliens much of late.

Seeing the the movie Close Encounters Of The Third Kind was a dazzling experience of sight and sound for me as a child. Of course, aliens have a particular allure to children, young and old. It wasn’t until I was older and had fallen in love with music that the means used to communicate with the visitors truly resonated with me.

I still find it wholly brilliant and a lovely concept that music would be the conduit between humans and whatever beings that might exist in distant worlds. Although the movie incorporated a five-note sequence based on the teachings of Zoltan Kodaly, I wondered what might be the one song I’d play for extraterrestrials to explain the concept of rock and roll – four minutes of sheer perfection exemplifying the form.

I believe I’d be inclined to play Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me for them.

In fact, I wouldn’t be hesitant to declare that Cheap Trick is one of America’s greatest rock bands. No, I’m not speaking from a standpoint of influence or artistry (although they have been influential and have had moments of great artistry, although maddeningly erratic), but rather from the position that they might be as close as this country has come to producing our own Beatles – guitar, bass, drums, and four distinct personalities with a cache of classic songs that sound perfect blaring from the stereo.

I Want You To Want Meis a flawless example – a divinely glorious cacophony of Rick Neilsen’s guitar riffs, the sonic drive of the rhythm section of Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos, and the peerless vocal charisma of Robin Zander (accompanied by several thousand manic Japanese fans). It’s simplicity at its finest and a melody of the sweetest imaginable, a song that manages to capture the joyous exuberance of rock and roll and the timeless theme of longing, leaving the listener wanting more (at least this one and several thousand manic Japanese fans).

I think the aliens would get it. I think that they’d dig Rick Neilsen, provided that he didn’t beat them up – a fate that I once felt certain awaited me following a possibly ill-advised remark I made in defense of my cigarettes (somewhere I have a pack autographed by all four Tricksters).

Yeah, I think that Cheap Trick might just be the way to go if we want to promote intergalactic goodwill when the aliens finally arrive. They might not have the grace and elegance of those five notes from the movie, but if you’re going to do bong hits with E.T., I suggest Cheap Trick.

So, here’s to alien life everywhere and, as my new-found friends would certainly be smitten with Cheap Trick after hearing I Want You To Want Me, I’ve included another three of my favorites by the lads from Rockford.

Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me (live at The Budokan)

Cheap Trick – Surrender

Cheap Trick – If You Want My Love

Cheap Trick – Mandocello