Monday, December 15, 2014

Thus Spoke Zrbothustra (after the rain)

“Silence is worse; all truths that are kept silent become poisonous.” - Friedrick Nietzsche

I suppose it's time to break that silence. Yes, your good pal Herr Zrbo is here, after a long bout of ... having a kid.  I am now indeed a father to a little Gollum of a daughter. Now, let's not get ahead of ourselves here - I don't know just how much I'll be contributing now that I'm back, but you'll at least see my annual favorite songs of the year returning shortly. But enough with the small talk, let's get to what we really came here for:

After the drenching rains we've recently had come through California (not that that's where we're based, we are Cosmic Americans after all, adrift in both time and space) I caught myself singing Nelson's "After the Rain." The last time that Little Earl and I met during our annual Cosmological Congress I mentioned to him how I was currently into rock music from right before when Nirvana/"alternative music" hit the airwaves in the early '90s - those last glorious days when the '80s and its associated "hair metal" took one final breath before suffocating under the rain-drenched mopings of Seattle-based grunge.

Nelson are a perfect fit in this category that I don't have a name for (late hair metal?). Identical twin brothers Matthew and Gunnar Nelson were one of the last hair metal bands with a hit. The single "After the Rain" hit #6 on Billboard in late June of 1990, with their other hit "Love and Affection" hitting number #1. This put Nelson into the history books - well, at least the Guinness Book of World Records - as being the only family to reach number one record status in three successive generations (Ozzie and Harriet Nelson being the first, their father Ricky Nelson the second). Just over a year later, in September of 1991, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" would hit America by storm. Coincidentally, the album After the Rain remained in the charts for 64 weeks. You do the math.

Let's just watch this beast of a video. That opening with the drunk belligerent stepdad in what I presume is a trailer is pretty dark stuff. It's certainly not a tacky '80s anti-drug commercial. Yeah kid, go listen to that Nelson on your headphones, because when the song is over you're still going to be living in a nightmarish shit hole.

But then.. the kid is off on a hilarious vision quest complete with Native American appropriation. But... who are those two identical dreamboats with the outrageously long blond hair? Why, it's Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, sons of teen idol Ricky Nelson!

And what locks of hair they are! What teenage girl wouldn't go head over heels for Nelson? That's fairly indicative of late hair metal as well; it seemed increasingly tailored to a female audience. Just check out nearly any song by contemporaries Slaughter or Winger - these songs are made for chicks to dig, you dig? Don't believe me? How about that Full House episode where DJ scores tickets to see Slaughter. If you were a hair metal rocker in 1990 America, you could have any 13 year old girl you wanted. Seriously. (Confession time: little Zrbo really liked Nelson as well).

Back to the video. Enter: the arena. Yes, another staple of any good hair metal video is to highlight your band's "live" chops by having the video filmed "live" in a massive arena filled with adoring fans. Look at the smoke, look at the lights, look at those explosions, look at all the people having fun ... all in some sort of rock garden arena!

It's the little things:
  • The long velour coats that match the softness of Nelson's hair
  • One band member didn't get the memo and brought along his acoustic guitar
  • @3:28 The classic hair metal video trope of the drummer pointing the stick at the camera
  • @3:54 There's a Yacht Rocker in the audience... or at least a guy sporting a Captain's hat
  • @4:10 Are they identical twins or are they lovers 'cause they're getting awfully close
And then the kid wakens back in his shit hole - was it all just a dream? But what's this! What a twist!

And that's it for our time with Nelson. I think you can still see them performing at the Santa Cruz boardwalk on occasion, watery remnants of a time when big hair was the thing. These washed out rockers pouring out their hearts in a gush, no, a rain of emotions. All right, enough water-based puns for now. Back to the Gollum.

1 comment:

Little Earl said...

Oh Zrbo, it's truly heartening to know that fatherhood has not killed your taste for amusingly androgynous hair metal. For a moment there, I was concerned.

That said, I'm not so sure that video for Slaughter's "Real Love" which you've just introduced to me), with an apparent cameo by prime-era Shannon Doherty, was tailored solely for the female audience. Behold these majestic YouTube comments:

This was when music was REAL music! Not like this crap now.

I didn't know that rafael nadal has a great band like this

After all these years i finally find out that there is a music video for this song, all those years wasted, and is that shannon doherty ddddaaaammmmnnn

this song is for a girl i love out in southern missouri realm that girl i love stacy brets beutifull wife your the greatest

I look like a young Mark Slaugher. Anyone want to go out on a date?

ive been looking for real love for years this is kinda my anthem

Hey ,I know that chick..She ran me off the 101 Freeway,about 10 years ago..Then she beat up my girlfriend..Then she went away,and we havent heard from her since...

Don't look for love...Look for great sex, love will follow!

And some keepers from that Winger video:

This is the ultimate hurt song for heartbroken people. It's like Sinatra. His lyrics can make you heal every time you listen to each song. But than again it even compares to 80s metal hair bands. Some of their lyrics are similar to Sinatra's hurt songs but have different arrangements.

The woman who broke my heart is now miles away in another State....I used to miss I don't give a shit!

I am now 42 ,my sister which died of leukemia in 92 loved winger make a wish foundation granted her last wish it was to meet WINGER awesome guy

OMG I almost forgot about you Winger. Glad we could get reacquainted

This song reminds me of when I was recruited out of college and I was leaving LV to work in Cali., my ex-GF had just had an abortion and told me like it was no big deal. She found out where I lived and went looking for me. This video just reminded me of that day she was knocking on my door, I was standing on the other side. I never answered the door, I let her walk away. She left me a note but I never opened it, I don't regret it.