Monday, June 28, 2010

metal and the academic mind

The smartest thing I ever did in my life (no, it's not finding and tying up a wonderful woman to a contractual obligation...that was pure luck) was my move up north to enter doctoral school. While the career thing hasn't worked out quite as I planned, the other benefits are too numerous to count. I have the best friends in the world, I love my job, and I love thinking about and figuring out my occupation! It's truly glorious.

There are, however, downsides.

I'm sitting in front of my computer, pulling out (as usual) all of my work-evasion tactics. I've already completed a full round of my daily web browsing, and neither Twitter, Facebook, or Reader has anything new to offer. I've done some audio editing on one of my band's demos. I've played enough games of Spider Solitaire (which is in a daily work-avoidance rotation with Tetris). And, notably (for the purposes of this e-mail) listened to music.

Today's pre-writing/avoidance music is Dio, which has been fairly regular in the playlist since the singer's death. I love Dio. I saw him on the Sacred Heart tour, and it was one of my first shows. It was awe-inspiring. They had a friggin' fire-breathing dragon on stage!

I always remembered Dio's lyrics as being one of the major draws. They were, as opposed to those from most hair metal acts, actually clever. They were actually about something.

But one of the dangers of being who I am, a trained academic with a culture and media specialization, is that the critical mental tools are always at work. When the song "Sacred Heart" came up, I started to pay attention to the words. The song start off with:

The old ones speak of winter
The young ones praise the sun
And time just slips away

Running into nowhere
Turning like a wheel
And a year becomes a day

The first stanza shows possibilities...a metaphoric examination of how the various age-related intellectual obsessions cause us to forget to see the true minute to minute joys as we live our lives? Cool. But then there's that damn "time turns like a wheel" cliche. Folks, bad Jungians have destroyed that as a legitimate phrase. It's simply hippie crap nowadays, and fairly uninsightful hippie crap at that. Moreover, hippie lyrics have no place in metal!

I still have hopes for something intelligent, though, if not a critical take on human existence. Later in the song, Dio sings:

You can see tomorrow
The answer and the lie
And the things you've got to do

..and I'm now expecting some good resolution. Hell, if I can see the answer and the lie, and if there's something I have to do, then it's gonna be notable, right? You're gonna tell me, and it's gonna be good...right? Right?

So, according to Dio, what do you have to do now that you know the truth of the world? Well,

Sometimes you want it all
You've got to reach for the sun

And find the Sacred Heart
Somewhere bleeding in the night
Oh look to the light
You fight to kill the dragon
And bargain with the beast
And sail into a sigh

It seems the grand answer, now that you know the answer and the lie of existence, is to lose yourself in a nice, long, geeky game of Dungeons and Dragons. Here's the truth of the world! Now use this knowledge to dream of living a nostalgic existence for a time where almost everyone was a slave and lived in filth, where people were repressed and killed for their religion, their national origin, for no reason at all! Weee!

Lest it seem I'm being harsh in my analysis, look at the next two stanzas:
You run along the rainbow
And never leave the ground
And still you don't know why

Whenever you dream
You're holding the key
It opens the door
To let you be free

Why do you dream? You don't know this, but the only real freedom you have is dreaming of a fictionalized existences you will absolutely never have! That no one ever had!

You see? This is what an academic mind can do to you. I guess it's better to realize this stuff than not, but it's still an interpretation I will now never be ever to not see when I listen do Dio.

Sigh. At least it still rocks.


Anonymous said...

You've got it all wrong Mike. But I'm not an academic, so what do I know?

themikedubose said...

Hey, I'd love to hear your take...and being an academic is just my particular disease.