segunda-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2013

The Last in Line

This is the first Musicabillia text in English. Original text posted on January 20th.

Last week I attended a beloved aunt’s funeral. Here in Brazil, funeral services are mostly like an opportunity to meet with relatives and folks you haven’t seen for a while. So, I sat away from from all that chatting and talking and started to wonder why we are so afraid of this ol’ bitch called Death. Truth is that, despite all theories about life after death, no one has returned to tell us what it’s like to be on the other side. Or even if there is another side. Where are we going? Who will we meet there? Is there really life after death?

Artists are sensitive people in general. Through mankind’s history, poets, authors, painters and composers have always shown us their interpretation of this infamous passage to another dimension, and have revealed the same doubts we still have today. In music it’s not different. And I don’t quote here the most obvious genre: heavy metal – the ugliest and loudest rock’s bastard - and yet one of the most venerated of all times. From Delta blues players through new wave gothics and post-punks, to the extreme and so-called death metal, the subject of death has been in every lyric and themes of music.

With all its crying and moaning, the Blues dealt with death and suffering as a punishment for mainly love and woman-related sins. By the end of the sixties, Jim Morrison opened the doors of his sanity with morbid poetry and painful speeches, taking abuse of LSD, heroin and any other substance that could could take him faster to meet his maker. In the early 70s, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath performed their sonic masses evoking death and supernatural matters, always guided by Tony Iommi’s dark and powerful riffs; the outrageous Alice Cooper saluted us with suggestive albums and song titles along with bloody stage performances; Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant flirted with the occult, wizards and alchemy. Punks and post punks embedded in their aggressiveness and rebellion a great frustration with their lives, almost worshiping death as a logic consequence of their philosophy. But it was with that aforementioned heavy side of rock and roll, perpetuated since the early 80s, that this mysterious lady was quoted, mentioned, and honored with entire songs or even album titles. From Judas Priest’s razor-bladed guitar riffs, day-to-day themes and realistic lyrics, down to the dark and gloomy London alleys and their ghoulish characters portrayed by Iron Maiden. In Saxon’s leathered epic songs, Motorhead’s warlike contents, and even with Motley Crue’s  juvenile irresponsibility and their “Live fast Die fast” motto, Mrs. Death became the main theme to be played in world’s theatre of heavy metal. Since then, several others have started worshipping her: Megadeth, Slayer, Death Angel, Metallica and Death, only to name a few.

But no one managed to represent death in such an intelligent and subtle way as a guy named Ronald James Padavona, also known as “little big man” Ronnie James Dio. Since his first reign with Blackmore’s Rainbow , passing through Black Sabbath and holding out to his self-named band DIO, the Man on the silver mountain approached doubts, questions, the dualities of universe, life and death, presenting us with classics such as "A light in Black", "Rainbow in the dark", "Heaven and Hell", "The last in line", "Mystery" and "After All". Leading Heaven and Hell and still at the top of his career, Dio found himself as a mere mortal being - he faced the Dragon of his disease, stood up and shouted at death’s ugly mask until his last breath.
"Too many flames with too much too burn
And life's only made of paper..."  - Over and Over - Black Sabbath

I bet when you were a kid you used to draw skulls in your books, or hang up Eddie the Head posters on your bedroom wall. And I bet you proudly wore your favorite heavy metal t-shirts until they turned gray. Some time later, you probably felt lonely, abandoned, and confused in the abysses of life. You wanted to kill – or die - for a first love. And now, as a responsible grown-up, you still think about Mrs.Death and her mysterious ways.

Maybe that’s why she’s so popular. She’s always on the news. She’s famous, undeniable. Sneaky and tricky. And when she finally knocks on our door .. 
“We’ll know for the first time... if we’re evil or divine… We’re the last in line!"

As I was writing I listened to...
Judas Priest - "Killing Machine", "The Ripper";  Iron Maiden - "Killers", "Prowler", "Purgatory", "Hallowed be thy name", "Die with your boots On"; Saxon - "Crusader"; DIO - "The last in line", "Mystery", "Lock up the Wolves"; Black Sabbath - "Over and over"; Ozzy Osbourne - "See you on the other side".

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