Ken Dryden perfectly articulated, in his book The Game, something everyone intuitively understands:
Nothing is as good as it used to be, and it never was. The ‘golden age of sports,’ the golden age of anything, is the age of everyone’s childhood. For me and for the writers and commentators of my time, it was the 1950s. For those who lived in the 1950s and adults, it was the 1920s or the 1930s. Only major disruptions like wars, or expansions can later persuade a child of those times that what he feels cannot be right. For me, the greatest goalies must always be Hall, Sawchuk, Plante, and Bower.
For me, then, the golden age of music was right around 1992, when Kurt Cobain drove a stake clean through the bloated, cocaine fuelled heart of Axl Rose and all of his ilk (watch that video until Breed starts and tell me it’s not awesome). I didn’t understand it until then, but I really hated – irrationally hated – popular music up to that point. It was just so… dumb. There’s no other way to put it. And nothing was worse than the ridiculous and improbable genre of hair metal. Looking back at it it’s nigh impossible to understand how this actually became a trend. A bunch of underfed idiots, with permed mullets and eyeliner, dressed up to look like cracked-out street prostitutes, playing the lamest, weakest sounding rock music ever, while everyone pretended it was “metal”. Dear god. Now if you were 12 years old in 1985 you’re sitting there pounding your keyboard saying “that’s it, I’m not coming back to this stupid blog ever again!”. I know. See Dryden, above. I’m biased, but come on… Look at these guys!
And perhaps the low-water mark of the era has to be the video for the Guns n’ Roses song Don’t Cry, which features a bitchin’ cat fight in a bar, Axl underwater, Axl wearing bike shorts to show off his huge package while visiting a psychiatrist, the band playing on a roof, and the best: Slash appears to purposely drive his car off a cliff, causing it to explode, seemingly murdering his nagging girlfriend, after which he plays guitar shirtless in leather pants, before throwing his guitar off the cliff onto the smouldering remains of his now ex-girlfriend. It’s so freaking stupid.
Now you might look at those pictures through the cause du jour lens of our day and think, hey, those guys are messing with gender conventions, wearing makeup, and paving the way for queer culture. Yeah. No. That was the worst part! It was entirely cynical gender bending by guys who just wanted to chase girls and do drugs, and who didn’t have anything to say about anything, except maybe the injustice of speed limits.
Another band loomed large over this era: Bon Jovi. I freaking hate these guys!
So it was with great pleasure that I learned last week that Jon Bon Jovi’s first pro recording was, in fact, R2D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas. And it’s even worse than you think! Enjoy!
What is this, and how did it happen? It comes from an album called Christmas In The Stars. The album is narrated by C3P0, and is about the droids working in Santa’s workshop, or something. It includes the all time atrocity What Can You Get A Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb)? The album was produced in the studio of the cousin of the then-John Bongiovi (presumably changed because it sounded “too ethnic”). To keep costs down they gave the 17-year old floor sweeper Bon Jovi a chance. And boy did he nail it! It also features Anthony Daniels, who plays C3P0, singing in character, and teaching R2D2 to sing the song sleigh ride. He must have signed the worst contract ever, and been going through a brutal divorce, and had a heavy drug addiction to need money this desperately. Poor guy. Incredibly, this record sold 150,000 copies, which really makes you question everything you believe about humanity. Andrea Warner at the CBC delved deep into the depths of this subject to give us a full oral history of Christmas in the Stars, and it’s definitely worth a read.
Maybe weirder than the fact that Christmas In The Stars exists in the first place, is the fact that it was created as a sort of sequel, hoping to capitalize on the runaway success of this piece of junk: Yes, a Star Wars-themed dance record with twerking astronauts on the cover existed. What is it? Why, it’s Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk. It consists of really terrible disco versions of Star Wars music, and it actually generated a number one single on the Billboard chart. It’s sooooooo bad! Listen here. Your favourite Star Wars tunes, with cheesy fake strings, random wookie yells, and laser sounds. Groovy, space daddy! Since this was such a hit, a Christmas album was just a natural choice, right? Yes, disco Star Wars was so cool that a yuletide sequel was in demand. Unfortunately, the utterly terrible R2D2 Christmas Carol wasn’t enough to stop the Jovi, and we all now have to live with wu-wu-whoa-WHOA-whoa in the recesses of our minds.
A fun post-script: Bon Jovi expressed interest in buying the Buffalo Bills once, and everyone in western New York went nuts and started anti-Jovi campaigns, including these guys who delivered thousands of letters opposing the man. It was great!
Thank you to alert reader Mark who suggested this subject. Yes, I take requests! Do you have a wealth of knowledge in the era of novelty albums and jerks wearing mascara? Put it to use, and come play trivia.