|The Star Child should get at least a little credit for coaching me all the way through age group, high school and college.|
Gus reminded us the other day that music can be a major motivator in the life of a swimmer. I mean, heck, now we have multiple companies selling water-proof mp3 players just so that we can swim our laps without missing a beat. When I make a motivational play list I typically focus on THE METAL, so Motorhead, Tomahawk, Dio, etc come up pretty often, but once in a while my ipod’s mental problems can stretch all the way to things like the Thompson Twins and Anne Murray. (Please don't tell anyone who went to Petersburg Middle School from 1986-88. I have a rep to protect.)
Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to share a guilty pleasure with you. There is a little understood sub-genre of metal that I want to help you appreciate when you make your next motivational play list for swim practice.
When you think of the hair bands like Poison, RATT, Motley Crue and Cinderella, the first songs that people remember are the power ballads. They were the ones that helped the girly-men breakthrough to the mainstream. That is the stuff I don’t care for too much. Some of those bands really rocked and put out some awesome party music, but that is not really where I am headed with this either.
When I dig out the hair metal, it is all about the motivational rock anthems. Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild,” Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer,” and stuff like that. You know what I am talking about. I am not afraid to admit that I think that type of music has real value, even when it is often too cheesy to bear. I know it seems silly, but my childhood and adolescence were filled with idols who told me that I could do anything I want and I should never let the man grind me down. Of course, that message coming from guys in tight leather pants with long hair and make up might not go as far nowadays as it did back in the mid-80’s, but still… that stuff helped to shape my personality. It is a part of who I am and I did not come to terms with it until years later in adulthood.
To take this a step further, I have to give praise to the man who should be considered the father of the cheesy inspirational rock anthem; the man who was not afraid to add the extra cheese: Paul Stanley of KISS.
|The Phantom of the Park didn't stand a chance with Paul on the job.|
You see, I once had a friend who swore up and down to me that Elvis’ greatest years were the bloated, big-time diamond crusted Vegas years because that was when he really had the chance to get weird and hold nothing back. His shows turned into a massive spectacle that a lot of his old movie fans couldn’t relate to. I had never even considered the possibility of that being Elvis at his awesomest. Similarly, I used to think that the 80‘s and early 90’s incarnation of KISS was their weakest, but now I am here to convince you that KISS’ greatest years were between taking off their masks and the years of reunions.
My playlists are always given a name, and my favorite is Inspiration Au Gratin. It is about 50% glam KISS. This phase was definitely when they were their most inspirational. Paul took crap for writing the dumbest songs during this time, but his message was universal and will never die: “If you want to be a rock star, work really hard and don’t listen to everyone else when they tell you how much you suck.” I can’t believe that American Idol hasn’t asked Paul to be a judge. Seriously, his message probably subconsciously inspired half of those delusional losers that fill the stadiums to give it a shot even when all of their friends and family begged them not to.
Go back and listen to these songs and tell me that you are not destined to be a freakin’ rock star. You will swim all best times with this playlist:
Crazy Nights, Turn on the Night, My Way, Reason to Live, Lick It Up, I Love It Loud, Shout It Out Loud, I'm Alive, Heaven's on Fire, Who Wants To Be Lonely, Radar for Love, Tears Are Falling, Uh! All Night…
And of course, the greatest, most magnanimous, dripping with cheesy goodness, inspirational, stickin’ it to the man rock song of all time: God Gave Rock and Roll To You. You will notice in the beginning of the video, even after the broken water main caused the floor to flood and the entire crowd to go home, they kept on rocking…
Kiss - God Gave Rock 'n' Roll To You by inthe80s
“I know sometimes life can get tough, and I know sometimes life can be a drag; but people, we have been given a gift. We have been given a road… and that road’s name is Rock and Roll!!!”
I dare you. Create a play list of these songs and work out to them. Even if you have avoided mid-life crisis KISS up until now, you will not be able to deny their power. You owe it to Paul to give this a chance.