ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING: Inspiration and Behind the Scenes – Part 1

The truth behind the story!

This is a 4 part mini series I wrote over the weekend as a companion to my recently published book. It will run over the next 4 weeks, every Monday morning at 8am!

Thank you!

Angel with a Broken Wing is my first work of fiction. It’s got all of my favorite elements in it. But where do these ideas come from? Well, I’m going to tell you.

I’m going to think back and try to remember some of the inspiration for this story.

I am obviously Christian Blackmore. Not anymore, but I was back in the 90’s. I was miserable in my marriage and my job, and I wished  I could just run away from the life I had created.

The Cover: I was an art major all through school. When I think about that now, it feels like a million miles away. I liked comic books growing up, and my first exposure to art was in comics. I always made art throughout my childhood, so art class was a natural progression for me in school. It was the only class that was effortless.

I loved to work in pen and ink. I liked its stark simplicity. I have several works from high school that I still retain in my collection. This one, The Angel is my favorite.

It was an incredibly cold day in February of 1980. I was in my double period, art major class. There were only two of us in the class that were any good. Me and Bill Polini.

I looked out the window as the snow came flying. I took pen in hand, and imagined a beautiful girl. In a warm place. She’s with me. We’re maybe riding horses…or camels. She turns to look at me, and the reflection of the oasis behind me reflects in her sunglasses. I long to kiss her.

“Yea. I should try to draw that.”

Uncle John: I had an uncle John on my mother’s side of the family. I share many of the same characteristics of my mom’s side of the family more than my dad. My mother had four brothers; Roland, Robert, Norman, and John. All of her brothers kept their hair and all died in their late 70’s and 80’s so maybe if my liver holds up, I’ll meet the same fate. John never left me any inheritance, but my uncle Rob left all of us kids some loot and it was substantial. He lived in Florida.

The Pinto: My grandmother, (My dad’s mom) We called her Grammy. I loved her. When everybody thought I was a piece of garbage in my early teens, she was the only one that had faith in me. So She will always have a special place in my heart. She was a cool lady, who liked a cold glass of beer and some good neighborhood gossip. Just an adorable lady. When she died, the last car she owned was a gold Ford Pinto. That car is my last memory of her. So I used it in the story. The car’s fate is based on stories I heard back in the 70’s about an engineering flaw in the vehicle.

Woodbury, New Jersey: I lived in Woodbury from 1992 to 2001. My wife and I owned a house on Barber Street. I modeled Christian Blackmore’s residence after my own house there. So when I wrote about him in his house in Woodbury, I could picture my own life there.

The Phoenix: I remember first hearing about the story of the Phoenix on an old record album. It was a collection of stories about superheroes. It was like an old radio show type collection of plays on one LP. I remember hearing about the Phoenix in one of those stories, probably back as far as 1973. When one of the characters describes the Phoenix, it is a verbatim rendition of what I heard on that record, nearly 50 years ago. I always felt like I could relate to the Phoenix in my own life. I always felt that no matter how many times I got destroyed in my life, I always came back better than what I was before. I think that’s why I have the characters make a stop over in Phoenix, Arizona on their journey to LA. There are some transforming moments for a few of them in that chapter.

Gloucester County College: When I was married back in the 90’s my then wife came from a very collegiate family. I never went to college, but had several college credits from the American Institute of Banking through courses I had taken through the bank I worked for. My wife thought I should go back to college at night and take courses to get my college degree. So I did. I took those classes at night after work, at Gloucester County Community College. I don’t feel that it was a waste of time, because it led to some interesting things. I’ll be getting to them shortly.

The Gun: Everything you read in Angel about the Bulldog .44 revolver is true. I never owned a gun, and like Christian Blackmore, I hate guns. But all of the info about that weapon is from real events. The story Christian tells Sheryl about the girl at the shore is all true. That happened to me in the summer of 1977. Funny thing is, I recently reconnected with that girl from New York on Facebook. (At 57, she’s still hot!) Oh, one last thing, I had to make a slight change in the action sequence involving that gun. During the final edits of the book I discovered that the bulldog .44 only holds 5, not 6 bullets like most revolvers! I guess because those bullets are so big!

Sheryl Stanton: Sheryl was inspired by a girl I met in one of the banking courses I took at Gloucester County College. I pretty much describe Sheryl as how this girl was in real life. We had a good friendship for a brief period and even had some romantic dalliances. She did break it off with me when she moved to California for a period of time. The real Sheryl never worked in a mental health facility. That’s completely made up for the story.

Karl Itzky: The first kid I met when I went to Frankford High School in 1978, was a guy named Karl Itzky. He was the only person I knew other than my older sister. I just liked his name. He is nothing like the Karl Itzky in the book. He was a nice guy, who I sadly lost touch with when I moved up the social ladder in high school.

Honest Files: The name of the bar/restaurant where Christian and Sheryl hang out is taken from a song by the band, Urge Overkill. There are many references in the book about music I was listening to back in the 90’s where this story takes place. It’s from their album, Exit the Dragon. Here are some of the lyrics from the song:

Hey, hey I’m dead on arrival
Hey, hey I’m distant
Crawling right back
Yes, I’m crawling right back
‘Cause I’m honesty, don’t break my heart
Honesty won’t break it
Honesty won’t break you heart
Honest it won’t
It won’t, it won’t, it won’t, it won’t, it won’t…

I thought it was a cool song, and that bar is where I hung out with the real Sheryl back then. It’s where we would spill our guts to each other about everything in our lives. I used to say we were opening the ‘Honesty Files’ about what we were experiencing at that time.

The real place is exactly the way I describe it in the book. The animal trophies on the walls, all of the real bookcases all around the room, and the fireplace. We spent many a night there pounding martinis and smoking tons of cigarettes. (Yea, you could smoke in restaurants and bars back then!) It was a welcome repose from our chaotic lives.

Exterior - Picture of Charlie Brown's Steakhouse, Woodbury ...

Here’s the real Honesty Files… It’s a place called Charlie Brown’s at 111 Broad Street, in Woodbury, NJ

 

More next week!

 

You can buy Angel with a Broken Wing on kindle and paperback right here:

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

 

 

 

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Tales of Rock: The Most Metal Album Led Zeppelin Recorded

When you look for the origins of heavy metal music, you’ll always find Led Zeppelin as part of the conversation. For all the sweet acoustic ballads and experimentation the band did over the years, the constant on every album was music that got heavy and very loud.

Just ask Geezer Butler, the bass player of metal pioneer Black Sabbath. “Zeppelin paved the way for us,” Butler said. “They were the heaviest thing, up until we came along. They very much started the genre.”

On Zeppelin’s first album, you got several different types of heavy. On “Dazed and Confused,” it was the ominous type that became so popular later. Then there was “Communication Breakdown,” which looked ahead to both metal and punk thrashing.

Led Zeppelin II got even heavier, and the band never shied away from the thunder on subsequent albums. But with Presence, the record that featured almost none of the keyboards and acoustic stylings of the other albums, Zeppelin had its most metal moment.

‘Presence’ contained the metal assault of ‘Achilles Last Stand’ and ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine.’

Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page perform live onstage in 1972. | Robert Knight Archive/Redferns

You don’t find tunes like “That’s the Way” or even “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” on Presence. In fact, you don’t find John Paul Jones on keyboard at all. Jimmy Page, who wrote the majority of the album’s material with Robert Plant, mostly kept his acoustic guitars in their cases, too.

By this point in the band’s life (late 1975), Led Zeppelin had already delivered masterpieces like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir.” They’d also closed the book on heavy blues interpretations with “In My time of Dying.”

With “Achilles Last Stand,” you got what the title promised: a seasoned warrior not leaving the battlefield before thrashing almost everyone in sight. It was a full metal attack.

Between Jones’s heavy bass, Page’s crushing riff, and the thunder of John Bonham’s drums, there was no mistaking “Achilles” for anything short of metal. Plant’s vocals are the only thing you could describe as subdued here, and by the end he too gets loud.

Then there was the unbridled assault of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” On this tune, Plant joins the party in style with full-throated wailing and a sinister harmonica part. Bonham’s vicious drumming on these tunes heavily influenced drummers like Metallica’s Lars Ulrich (see: “One”).

The first record from ‘Physical Graffiti’ is also among Zeppelin’s heaviest offerings.

Led Zeppelin appears at the West Coast premiere for their concert film ‘The Song Remains the Same,’ Hollywood, October 21, 1976. | Frank Edwards/Fotos international/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin didn’t go all-metal for a reason: They considered their music far bigger than that. They never wanted to thought of as one-dimensional. You get a good look at the band’s philosophy on Physical Graffiti, the group’s only double album.

Five of the six tracks go straight at the listener, with Page and Bonham going in for the kill on every song. The exception is “Houses of the Holy,” which obviously came from sessions for the previous album. Had you replaced that “The Wanton Song,” it would be as heavy as Zep ever got.

Of course, the second disc from Physical Graffiti dulled the blow considerably with its acoustic tunes and “Boogie With Stu.” That was the point. And even with monster rockers like “Custard Pie,” the funkiness of Bonham’s drumming stands out.

Put it this way: Led Zeppelin went metal on several occasions (especially on Presence), and metal never got that good again.

 

 

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Tales of Rock: The Night Rob Halford Saved Black Sabbath

When Metal Legends Collide…

In November 1992, Ozzy Osbourne was about to wrap up his supposedly final concert tour in support of the massively successful No More Tears album. Two “farewell” shows were scheduled at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California.

To make these “retirement” concerts into an even bigger must-see event, the Osbourne camp reached out to Ozzy’s former band, Black Sabbath, with an offer to open the Costa Mesa shows. At the time, Sabbath was touring in support of 1992’s Dehumanizer album, which featured the return of vocalist Ronnie James Dio—the man who’d replaced Ozzy in Sabbath in 1980. Everybody thought this was a fabulous idea—except for Dio, who suspected that the invite was merely a back-door method to plant the seeds for a full fledged Sabbath/Ozzy reunion. Dio refused to do the shows and announced that he was leaving Black Sabbath for the second time.

No, sorry. I have more pride than that. A lot of bad things were being said from camp to camp, and it created this horrible schism. So, by them agreeing to play the shows in LA with Ozzy, that, to me, spelled out ‘reunion with Ozzy.’ And that obviously meant the end of our particular project.

— Ronnie James Dio

Various bootlegs of the Costa Mesa gigs. Note that the one on the top right says "with Rob Ralford." Ha!
Various bootlegs of the Costa Mesa gigs. Note that the one on the top right says “with Rob Ralford.” Ha! | Source

Enter Halford

In desperation, Sabbath’s Tony Iommi reached out to a fellow son of Birmingham to replace Dio for the two gigs: Rob Halford of Judas Priest fame. Rob was a free agent at the time, having split from Priest the previous year. He was also a massive Black Sabbath fan, so naturally he jumped at the chance to be their temporary front man. Legend has it that Rob only had two days to familiarize himself with Sabbath’s set list prior to the gigs.

Metal news traveled slower in those pre-internet days, so I imagine much of the audience in Costa Mesa must have been quite surprised to see Rob Halford take the stage with Sabbath on November 14th, 1992. By all accounts, the Metal God absolutely killed it, in spite of the short amount of prep time.

I’m sure that the bootleggers who were already there in force to capture Ozzy’s “last shows” on tape must have been absolutely thrilled to get the Halford/Sabbath combo as an added bonus. Their grainy VHS videos and scratchy audio recordings of the two gigs immediately became popular items in trading circles. For a brief time after the Costa Mesa shows, rumors circulated that Halford might be joining Black Sabbath full time, but obviously that never came to pass.

Night #1, Nov. 14, 1992 (Full Set)

Call for the Priest…

I own a CD of the second night’s show on November 15th (entitled The Priest Comes to the Sabbath), which seems to be the more common of the two nights available via bootleg. It’s obviously an audience recording (occasionally someone yells out “YEEEAAAAHHH!” or “WOOOOOO!” close to the recorder/mic and drowns out the music!) and unfortunately it’s missing the first song of the set (“The Mob Rules”), but aside from that it’s a decent quality recording of an amazing night in Heavy Metal history. Rob’s lack of rehearsal is most obvious during “Children of the Grave,” when he comes in at the wrong time and then has to repeat the first line of the song a moment later (whoops!). However, he quickly redeems himself with a fine rendition of Heaven and Hell‘s “Children of the Sea” (one of my all time favorite Sabbath tracks).

As the set goes on, I’d say that Rob’s singing style is better suited to the Dio era songs like “Neon Knights” and “Heaven and Hell,” but on the other hand, he does turn in some killer performances of Ozzy-era classics too, especially “N.I.B.” and “Into the Void.”

The crowd is clearly having a blast throughout the set, and it sounds like Rob himself is pretty damn jazzed to be singing for one of his favorite bands, too. I guess even Metal Gods can still have fanboy moments!

Night #2—November 15, 1992 (Full Set)

The Aftermath

Ozzy’s planned “retirement” didn’t last long. He was back out on the road again only a few years after the Costa Mesa shows, and Black Sabbath kept on truckin’ as well. Their paths frequently crossed with Ozzy’s during the late 90s at the man’s annual OzzFest attractions. Sabbath also managed to mend fences with the estranged Ronnie James Dio, releasing 2009’s The Devil You Know album with him (under the moniker “Heaven & Hell”) before Ronnie’s tragic death in 2010. A full fledged Ozzy/Sabbath reunion resulted in the 13 album, released in 2013, and a farewell tour.

Rob Halford spent the rest of the ’90s dabbling in street-level groove metal with his solo project Fight and electronic rock with the band “Two.” He returned to Priest style traditional metal with his Halford solo band before he rejoined Judas Priest in 2004.

Amazingly, Halford’s association with Black Sabbath wasn’t quite over yet. Judas Priest was taking part in the 2004 OzzFest tour, headlined by an Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath, when Ozzy came down with a bout of bronchitis at the Camden, New Jersey date. Rob was asked to step in for Sabbath once again, and even though he had already performed a full set with Judas Priest that day, he was still able to belt out an additional set of classics with Sabbath that night! “Iron Man” indeed!

“Paranoid” With Rob Halford—2004

 

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ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING is now On Sale at Amazon! (kindle & paperback)

PUBLISHED!!!!

The official announcement will come out at 6am today!

But in the meantime…

Sneak Peek!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is available now!

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Tales of Rock: All The Cultural References In The Song ‘American Pie,’ Explained

I love writing this column every Sunday! Enjoy!

Eight minutes long, starting with “A long, long time ago,” Don McLean’s “American Pie” is a slice of cultural history. Since the song’s release, fans have been obsessed with answering one question: what is “American Pie” about?

“That song didn’t just happen,” McLean said of his 1971 hit, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and named a Song of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America. The classic folk-rock anthem, known for its expansive lyrics, is filled with cultural references related to American life in the 1950s and 1960s.

“I saw the implication of America going bye-bye, since by 1971 we were a horribly divided country with tremendous anger being directed at the government over… Vietnam,” McLean said in Alan Howard’s book The Don McLean Story, hinting at the song’s larger meaning: the disintegration of the American ideal McLean romanticized in his youth.

McLean’s ambiguous writing style lends itself to all types of interpretation, and that is how he wanted it. “People ask me if I left the lyrics open to ambiguity. Of course I did,” he said. “I wanted to make a whole series of complex statements. The lyrics had to do with the state of society at the time.”

McLean officially verified only one reference in the song: that Buddy Holly was a key influence in his life. As McLean put it, “I can say that Buddy was a huge part of my childhood dream. Long before I decided how I would use music or what kind of artist I would be, Buddy was there.”

Fans have pulled apart and analyzed the rest of the “American Pie” lyrics and references through context clues, research, and finding historical parallels to the decades that inspired the creation of McLean’s ballad.

‘Bye, Bye Miss American Pie’

Some fans believe the “American Pie” in the famous first line of McLean’s chorus refers to the name of the plane Buddy Holly perished on, but according to the federal Civil Aeronautics Board incident report about the aircraft’s demise, the plane didn’t have a name.

Jim Fann, creator of the Understanding American Pie website, argues the line has a potential two-fold meaning: a nod to the phrase “as American as apple pie” and an allusion to the Miss America beauty queen. The phrase “evokes a simpler time in American life when these icons held more meaning,” Fann said.

‘Drove My Chevy To The Levee But The Levee Was Dry’

McLean imbues his all-American song with all-American iconography, like the Chevy automobile or truck. The dried levee (which rhymes with Chevy) adds a sense of barrenness to the current landscape in the song.

Also, an advertisement for Chevrolet in 1953 featured a jingle sung by Dinah Shore that includes a reference to a levee.

‘Singin’ This’ll Be The Day’

This line likely refers to Buddy Holly’s song “That’ll Be the Day.”

Holly, along with singers the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, and pilot Roger Peterson, perished in a plane incident February 3, 1959. Their small aircraft went down on a snowy late night after a concert in Clear Lake, IA.

‘A Long, Long Time Ago’

McLean released the song in 1971, but “American Pie” focuses on the 1950s, thus the exposition.

‘But February Made Me Shiver’

This is the first reference in “American Pie” (before the chorus) to Buddy Holly’s demise on February 3, 1959. He hopped on a plane after playing a show in Iowa, and never made it to his next stop: Minnesota. Instead, the plane’s remains were found in an Iowa cornfield, where all the passengers, including the pilot, perished.

It’s believed the plane flew into a blizzard and the inexperienced pilot lost control.

‘With Every Paper I’d Deliver / Bad News On The Doorstep / I Couldn’t Take One More Step’

McLean apparently worked as a newspaper delivery boy. And on February 3, 1959, the “bad news” was Buddy Holly’s demise, on the cover of every paper (the afternoon version) that McLean distributed.

‘When I Read About His Widowed Bride’

Buddy Holly was married to his young wife, Maria Elena Santiago-Holly, for only six months when he perished.

His widowed, pregnant new bride was so traumatized by the news of his demise that she had a miscarriage.

 

‘The Day The Music Died’

Buddy Holly was not the only musician who perished in the plane incident. He was on a 24-day, 24-city tour with the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. The Big Bopper was known for his song “Chantilly Lace,” and Valens for “La Bamba.”

The loss of all three rock musicians in the same incident was seen as a tragedy, and in McLean’s mind, marked the end of a musical era that would never be reclaimed.

‘Did You Write The Book Of Love?’

“The Book of Love” is a famous doo-wop song by The Monotones, a group from Newark, NJ. The song was released in 1958, topping pop and R&B charts. It must have left an impression on young McLean. As the lyrics to the song go:

I wonder, wonder who, mmbadoo-ooh, who
Who wrote the book of love

The track actually made it to Woodstock 1969, where it was covered by Sha Na Na.

‘If The Bible Tells You So?’

“The Bible Tells Me So” was a gospel pop adaptation of the Sunday school song “Jesus Loves Me” written by Dale Evans in 1955 and recorded by a handful of singers the same year.

Versions from Nick Noble and Don Cornell were especially popular, soaring high on Billboard charts.

‘You Both Kicked Off Your Shoes’

This is likely a reference to sock hops, beloved teenage dance parties in the ’40s and ’50s that involved playing popular music in gymnasiums or community halls. Sock hops coincided with the rise of rock ‘n’ roll as the ’50s progressed.

Participants were told to take their shoes off to protect the varnish on dance floors.

‘With A Pink Carnation And A Pickup Truck’

In 1957, Marty Robbins released the heartbreak song “A White Sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation)” about a young man “all dressed up for the dance” and “all alone in romance.”

‘And Moss Grows Fat On A Rolling Stone’

A year after Bob Dylan released “Like a Rolling Stone” in 1965, he was involved in a strange motorcycle incident that made him lie low for a year or two at the height of his career. He’d just transformed himself from a folk singer to an electric guitar-playing rock musician, which caused a lot of controversy within the American music scene.

Some fans believe McLean’s intention with this line in “American Pie” is to highlight the evolution of music between the ’50s and early ’70s while also pushing the action of the song into the ’60s.

‘When The Jester Sang For The King And Queen’

According to one fan theory, Bob Dylan is the jester, Pete Seeger is the king, and Joan Baez is the queen. All three were influential and politically motivated folk singers in early ’60s, and it’s not a stretch to suggest their music influenced McLean’s own folksy sound. Dylan, Seeger, and Baez were all on stage together at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, where they sang Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” in unison.

Another theory is that the king and queen refer to President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy.

‘In A Coat He Borrowed From James Dean’

This line could be another reference to Bob Dylan.

On the cover of his 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Dylan wears a red windbreaker similar to the one worn by James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause.

‘And While The King Was Looking Down’

If the king is Pete Seeger, the godfather of folk, this could be a reference to him looking down upon the way Bob Dylan experimented with music in the 1960s.

‘The Jester Stole His Thorny Crown’

Bob Dylan the jester became the king, taking the crown when he won hearts with his brand of folksy rock ‘n’ roll.

Who did he take the crown from? Some people believe it’s Elvis, the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Others stick with Pete Seeger.

‘The Courtroom Was Adjourned / No Verdict Was Returned’

Returning to the JFK theory, after he was slain in 1963 , the man accused of the slaying, Lee Harvey Oswald, was himself slain.

Therefore, “no verdict was returned” because no trial actually occurred.

‘And While Lennon Read A Book On Marx’

While some fans think McLean is singing about Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, the more popular theory is that he’s singing about the Beatles becoming more political with their music as tensions soared in the ’60s. The Beatles, adored by American youth, were deemed inappropriate by older generations who thought their music was too rowdy.

As their sound evolved, the Beatles released songs like “Revolution” in 1968, whose message is in line with the Communist philosophies of German writer Karl Marx, known for The Communist Manifesto.

’The Quartet Practiced In The Park’

The quartet is likely the Beatles: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

‘And We Sang Dirges In The Dark’

A dirge is a funereal song of mourning, and there were plenty of lives to mourn in the ’60s: President John F. KennedyMartin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy among them.

The line could also refer to the Vietnam conflict; many drafted service members sent overseas never made it back home.

‘Helter Skelter In A Summer Swelter’

“Helter Skelter” is a song the Beatles released in 1968, a year of political and social turmoil in the United States.

The next August, “in a summer swelter,” followers of Charles Manson brutally slayed five people, including the actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time.

‘The Birds Flew Off From A Fallout Shelter’

Some fans speculate this is an allusion to the ’60s rock band The Byrds. A fallout shelter is a euphemism for a treatment center, which one of the band members checked into after being caught with illicit substances.

‘Eight Miles High And Falling Fast’

Eight Miles High is the title of a 1966 album by The Byrds, considered one of the first real trippy records.

The groundbreaking sound of the album was influenced by plenty of experimentation with illicit substances, particularly acid.

‘It Landed Foul On The Grass’

Grass. Herb. Dope. Pot. Doobie. All of these slang words refer to one thing, a certain illicit (and some consider foul-smelling) substance favored in the ’60s counterculture on display in “American Pie”: weed.

‘With The Jester On The Sidelines In A Cast’

Fans believe this is another homage to Bob Dylan’s 1966 motorcycle incident.

‘While Sergeants Played A Marching Tune’

The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, and this is likely an allusion to that significant album.

With this release, the Beatles amped up their innovative approach to rock music, including sitars and sound collages.

‘ ‘Cause The Players Tried To Take The Field / The Marching Band Refused To Yield’

Fans see this as a remark about the protest movement that seemed to peak in the late ’60s and early ’70s, from Chicago to Kent State.

Young people demonstrated en masse against prejudice, military conflicts, and economic injustice.

‘Oh, And There We Were, All In One Place’

McLean could be making a statement about the unifying power of the Woodstock 1969 festival in Bethel, NY, which brought together more than 400,000 people in one weekend.

Many of the most well-known rock musicians of the time performed, including Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. The festival is viewed as the height of American hippie culture.

‘Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick / Jack Flash Sat On A Candlestick’

This line could be a mash-up between the “Jack Be Nimble” nursery rhyme and the 1969 song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones, released on their album Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be.

Fans think this is an insult to the Stones for not coming up with a good comeback to the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. According to their theory, “Jack” is Mick Jagger.

‘Cause Fire Is The Devil’s Only Friend’

According to one theory, the “Devil” could be Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, representing rebellion and estrangement, and the pull away from a more innocent time perceived earlier in music and the world.

‘No Angel Born In Hell / Could Break That Satan’s Spell’

“No angel born in Hell” could refer to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, which instigated a riot at the 1969 Altamont Free Concert in California.

The Hells Angels agreed to provide security during a performance by the Rolling Stones, and an 18-year-old black man perished at the hands of a member of the motorcycle group. The events of the day are considered by some to be the day the “free love” movement ended.

‘I Met A Girl Who Sang The Blues’

The “girl” could be Janis Joplin, the rock singer with a singular bluesy voice who perished from taking illicit substances in 1970.

Her hits “Piece of My Heart” and “Me and Bobby McGee” were considered anthems for the hippie generation.

‘I Went Down To The Sacred Store / Where I’d Heard The Music Years Before / But The Man There Said The Music Wouldn’t Play’

McLean is possibly bemoaning the loss of interest in ’50s music at record stores.

When he released the song in 1971, perhaps he was suggesting no one cared about music from this bygone era anymore.

‘And In The Streets The Children Screamed’

This line could be an allusion to all the turmoil that occurred in the years leading up to the song’s creation.

Thousands of young people across the country were involved in various protest movements, which led to confrontations with law enforcement or other groups.

‘And The Three Men I Admire Most / The Father, Son, And The Holy Ghost’

McLean was apparently raised Catholic, so bringing religion in at the end of the song makes sense.

The sacred holy trinity, however, catches “the last train for the coast,” likely a sign McLean believes America lost its moral foundation in 1959.

 

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Tales of Rock – The Best Band You Never Heard – Krokus

If you like Bon Scott era AC/DC, then you’ll love this band.

I recommend the album, One Vice at a Time

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krokus_(band)

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Ratt Star In New GEICO Commercial

The current lineup of Ratt recall their blockbuster hit song “Round And Round” in a brand new television commercial from the insurance company GEICO.

The song originally appeared on the band’s 1984 debut full-length album “Out Of The Cellar” and the insurance company bills the clip as “New homeowners rave about the character and detail of their new home. Although, they do have a small Ratt issue.”

The new commercial features the current bandmembers frontman Stephen Pearcy, bassist Juan Croucier, guitarist Jordan Ziff and drummer Pete Holmes. Watch it below:

 

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Life Before Quarantine – Part 11

During quarantine I’ve been fairly productive. I get my energy from people but I really enjoy my alone time. My daughter agrees. We’re both perfectly happy being on our own. I was looking through some photos the other day and I got some great memories of when we were all allowed to come out and play. I thought I’d share some of them with you. I’ll run this series every week until I run out of photos! If you see yourself, hit me up!

I’m very fortunate to have met you all and enjoyed the times we had together. Thank you!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Life Before Quarantine – Part 10

During quarantine I’ve been fairly productive. I get my energy from people but I really enjoy my alone time. My daughter agrees. We’re both perfectly happy being on our own. I was looking through some photos the other day and I got some great memories of when we were all allowed to come out and play. I thought I’d share some of them with you. I’ll run this series every week until I run out of photos! If you see yourself, hit me up!

I’m very fortunate to have met you all and enjoyed the times we had together. Thank you!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

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Tales of Rock – What was the Deal with Oingo Boingo’s ‘Little Girls’? Still the Creepiest Music Video of all Time.

In these hypersensitive times, even a controversial music video as artful as Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’, which saw Shia LaBeouf wrestle in a brotherly way with dancer Maddie Ziegler, will lead to a full apology from the artist. But back in 1981, Grammy-winning composer Danny Elfman was manifesting unhinged visions no-one would dare post online in 2016.

At the time, he was part of new wave band Oingo Boingo, whose album Only a Lad and specifically the song ‘Little Girls’ has become a persistent internet oddity, racking up over 6 million YouTube views.

If you’ve never seen it/had it burned into your memory, watch it at your peril now:

 

Slightly mortified? Sorry. With lines like “They don’t care about my one-way mirror / They’re not frightened by my cold exterior” and the (hideously catchy) chorus hook, it’s a pretty disturbing song and video, imagining a predator living in a house seemingly designed by M.C. Escher and inhabited by voyeuristic dwarves in smart-casual attire. Several little girls visit, pillow fighting with the character, restraining him, kissing him and floating in some kind of void.

Was it some kind of Nabokovian exploration of paedophilia? Elfman was asked about the video at Comic Con in 2010.

HE SAID:

“What made me write it? At that point I was just grabbing onto things that popped up in my head and taking characters and singing from their point of view. So whether it be the right wing guy talking about capitalism or the feisty little girl or quasi molester – these were just things that I thought were funny or interesting and I would just kind of jump into the skin of. Often things I wrote were motivated by nothing but the newspaper. I’d read an article and be thinking about something and write a song from that perspective. So it didn’t necessarily reflect me…but it was just fun and I knew it was irreverent. I was out to offend everybody when I started out. Any subject matter I could find that would be offensive I was embracing, so that was just one.”

Elfman, who won a Grammy for the Batman score and an Emmy for Desperate Housewives’, doubled down on this in 2014 when he told The AV Club it wasn’t so much about writing “from the perspective of a paedophile” but dishing out an “in-your-face facetious jab”.

Only A Lad critiqued capitalism, but he also wanted to provoke the outraged left.

“I just basically make fun of everybody, and I didn’t see anybody as being protected from that,” he added.

“So even if my politics were left, I still would really mock political correctness and kind of organized left-wing politics as frequently as I would the right.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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