Monday, 5 September 2011

Mommy's Rotten Music: Teen Angst Edition

As children, my brothers and I were obsessed with music videos.  It happened because one Saturday morning we were watching David Bowie's video for "China Girl" and Mummy Dearest walked in right at the part where David Bowie is tongue-kissing the naked China Girl and you can totally see his ass*.  Music videos were banned in our house for years after that.  We had to sneak to our friends' house across the street to watch them.  We couldn't resist their siren song calling out to us from the Johnson's PayTV.  They were the forbidden fruit of our childhood.

*I went looking for the video to post here but all the ones I found were edited.  I was like, WTF?  Did my seven year old brain have some kind of sexy-hallucination?  It was like the first tongue-kiss/nudity I ever saw.  It was a very formative experience.  To this day I have this inexplicable crush on David Bowie.  I'm pissed that I can't find that video because I usually name it as my all time favourite!  They bastardized it!  Go here to watch the edited version.  At 1:21 is that David Bowie getting all racist?  Holy shit, I don't remember that!   Of course, it was the eighties.  People were kind of assholes back then.* 

By the time we were teenagers Mummy figured she had lost the battle so she lifted the ban and the floodgates were open.  They replaced our Saturday morning lineup of Smurfs, Snorks and Muppet Babies.  In a time before the internet, music videos were the best way to find new music. 

I was first introduced to Perry Farrel by MTV* the summer before I entered grade 10.  I immediately fell in love.  This video was unlike any I had seen before.  It tickles me and sends, I think, a rather wholesome message.  Youtube isn't letting me post it here (fack!).  For the original awesomeness click here.  If you're lazy and just want to hear the song (and because it makes my blog post look much more interesting and because this may be my all time favourite album cover...what is this thing I have with nudity?) there's this:



*In Canada we get Much Music but my (step)dad wanted to watch hockey 24/7 so we had a satellite dish and, therefore, access to MTV*

The colourful hair, cross dressing and glamourization of petty crime made it a sure-fire hit for a girl whose (step)father's worst nightmare was that she "get weird".  If he had been more worried about me getting slutty than he was with how I dressed I probably would have become a stripper instead of just wearing a lot of black.  Fathers of daughters, take note.  Jane's Addiction would go on to become one of my biggest influences as a musician.

A few short weeks after seeing that video came the first day of school.  I was talking with a couple of my girlfriends, Jen and Jenn, at their locker and they were telling me about something called "Lollapalooza".  They had somehow managed to convince their parents to let them go. Inside their locker were magazine pictures of people with hair like the guys in Jane's Addiction showing off pierced or bifurcated tongues and wearing heavy boots.  My friends did not have any crazy body-mods but they were wearing black, ten hole Doc Martens and they were listening to a tape called "Nine Inch Nails", which at the time, was about the craziest band name I had ever heard.  Jenn handed me her walkman and commanded me to listen.  It blew my adolescent mind:



The stupid bell rang and I didn't even get to hear the whole song.  Do you have any idea how late I had to stay up to catch this video on MTV?  Two in the morning.  Back then nobody gave a shit about NIN, which made them seem even better.  It paid off though because the host of the show loved them so much he played three more of their videos (which were clearly home made).  This is why guys like Perry Farrel had to invent things like "Lollapalooza" #howironic.  A few days later I bought a cassette of "Pretty Hate Machine".  I still have it.

That was when I started begging for the boots.  I made every possible argument my reasonably intelligent brain could come up with.  They were expensive but I would save up for them and they were guaranteed to last forever so it was actually an investment and they wouldn't have to buy me any more shoes probably until I moved out.  As much as I yearned to rebel, I was by habit an obedient child, which in the end went a long way towards getting the go-ahead for the boots.  After all, Mummy told (step)dad, they were just shoes.  What harm could they do? #Iwasateenagegothchick

Finally, the song that made everything bearable in the unbearable year I was 17.  My parents' relationship was on its last broken legs and things were ugly.  My (step)dad was (and still is) one of the World's Greatest Assholes.  So much so, that he now has to live in a different country to get away from all the friends and family he has screwed over.  Sorry Florida, he's your problem now.  I was old enough for it to be pretty obvious he was screwing around and he wasn't as good at lying as he thought.  Either that or he didn't give me very much credit.  This pretty much cured me of my inherent obedience.

Ah, that was the year my mom bought me the coveted Czech army boots with even more holes than my Docs (which, to the Asshole's relief had been stolen from me the previous year) just to piss him off.  Way to go Mummy!  She also got my brothers bigger, louder amplifiers for their guitars, so they could make even more racket the Asshole couldn't stand.  For my part I had a habit of loudly practicing my bass when he was home by playing along to my favourite songs.  The two songs above were on the list but the one I dedicated specially to him was from Rage Against the Machine:



The original video is here.  I loved them so much for this song I learned to play the entire album.  I'm sorry to say that I didn't pay much attention to Zack de la Rocha's message about racism, violence and social consciousness.  I know that makes me a suburbanite asshole but I was too young to know better.  At that time my reality was that The Man was living in my house and I had to Take the Power Back!  Motherfucker!

I still love this music.  It's a big part of who I am when you peel back the Mommy layers.  What I'm curious to know is how in the hell are my kids going to stick it to me when they're teens?  Muzak?  Katy Perry?


Update!   I was bitching to Daddy about the edited David Bowie video.  He found the original for me in about 20 seconds.  Apparently I was so upset it never occurred to me to search for the uncensored version.  So, for your viewing pleasure, here is David Bowie's ass:



You're welcome.

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