Feature: FULL METAL JACKIE CERTIFIED: THE 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL HEAVY METAL SONGS OF THE '80S AND THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND THEIR LYRICS
Tue, 26 Jan 2010 12:50:24
Heavy metal hardly ever gets the credit that it deserves.
It's an extremely intelligent and, dare I say, literary genre. Metallica drew a ton of inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft, as did Megadeth. Tool pulls from Bill Hicks and Timothy Leary. Plus, we know that Black Sabbath—with Ozzy and Dio—had its collective head buried in the Bible for inspiration. That said, there are a ton of books written about the genre itself and its purveyors. However, one new book by Jackie Kajzer, "Full Metal Jackie," truly stands out of the pack. FULL METAL JACKIE CERTIFIED: THE 50 MOST INFLUENTIAL HEAVY METAL SONGS OF THE '80S AND THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND THEIR LYRICS brings us deeper behind the music than ever before. Jackie gives an in-depth tour of some of the genre's greatest songs talking to everyone from Pantera/Down and Superjoint Ritual mainman Phil Anselmo to King Diamond.
"Full Metal Jackie" talked to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about the book, the intelligence behind the genre and so much more in this exclusive interview.
Which of the songs that you picked for the book particularly resonate with you?
Black Sabbath's “Heaven and Hell” really strikes a chord with me. There's a beauty in the allegory of the lyrics, but the real intent of the meaning is rooted in the stark reality of our lives. The world—and life—can alternately be wonderful and horrible, confusing and enlightening. It's a warning, and also a source of strength and determination to anyone dealing with the adversity of life's realities. In a lot of ways, that epitomizes the appeal of metal. Now, the song has taken on another meaning for me, in the context of Ronnie James Dio being treated for cancer.
Do you feel like metal is a "literary" genre? So many lyrics have such deep resonances.
For the most part, I think people tend to connect with the music before they really hear the lyrics. But since so many of the lyrics are allegorical and metaphorical, I'm not sure some people ever realized how the depth of emotions and ideas conveyed by the songs—which is one of the main reasons we wrote this book. So, yes, I do.
Was there anyone in the book that you'd been dying to interview?
I've always been a huge King Diamond fan. He was someone I had yet to interview, so it was pretty surreal to have such an in-depth conversation with him. It's funny, during every long discussion about which songs needed to be in this book, I always brought up Mercyful Fate and King Diamond. I think my co-author, Roger, finally agreed just to shut me up! But “Welcome Princes of Hell” perfectly opened the door to delve into the topics of the occult and Satanism that are perpetually tagged to metal, and King's beliefs and opinions are very insightful, and he articulated those things very well during our conversation.
Is there one thread that connects all of these songs?
If anything, I think the thread is the fans. Like we stated in the introduction to the book, our favorite bands spoke to us, and for us. These songs collectively paint a pretty accurate picture of the joys, frustrations, and priorities of metal fans, and not just during the ’80s. Metal fans have always been relegated to the fringe of society, typically dismissed as unintelligent, crude, and insignificant. The truth is, the metal community is made up of a lot of smart, informed people. I think these songs tend to reflect just how aware they have always been of the world around them.
Are there any songs that you'd like to add to that list in the book?
Since it's a book about metal lyrics from the ’80s, I think you're asking which songs I would add from that period. "Epic" from Faith No More, and definitely a couple of Iron Maiden songs. In fact, we were pretty tenacious in trying to connect with both bands, right down to the wire, but unfortunately our publishing timetable conflicted with the logistics of their schedules.
What's next for heavy metal?
Metal seems to have developed something of a renaissance attitude toward the past, and I think that will become even more prevalent in the next several years. More younger bands are recognizing and celebrating the traditional aspects of classic metal within their music. Thrash, for instance, is in the midst of a pretty healthy revival, but with better production. It almost seems like the dynamic quality of the music is finally catching up with the technological advances in sound quality.
Was there a certain "behind-the-song" story that stands out for you?
Not so much a single story, so much as getting to talk to Bob Daisley, who's been in some legendary bands. Hearing so many stories directly from him was pretty amazing. His recollections were in-depth and very vivid. What was supposed to be a 30-minute interview turned into a two hour conversation, which led to another long conversation.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…