I had a revelation today. It happened when I was in the middle of a Home Rock-Out Session-you know, when you sit lotus-legged in front of the stereo with a bong in your lap while you crank the tunes and admire the album artwork.
Today, I was on a progressive, arena-rock nostalgia Rock Sesh, jamming with glee to such gloriously overproduced bombast as Yes, Rush, Kansas and (yikes, I can't believe I'm going to admit this) Styx.
It was during the Styx album-in the middle of a song called "Eddie"-when my epiphany occurred.
"Eddie" is a song about the son of a bootlegger who was on the run from something or other. But what happens in the song is not as significant to my epiphany as what doesn't happen-which is that Eddie never dies.
Let me explain:
Over the years it has come to my attention that whenever a character named Ed appears in a song, he ends up dead. It's true. I think the first time I noticed was in the Jim Carroll tune, "People Who Died," in which, "Eddie got slit in the jugular vein."
I didn't think much of it at the time, but then I started noticing other compositions where Ed ended up dead. There was the Throbbing Gristle song, "Dead Ed." And The Cucumbers have a number called "Look Out Ed You're Almost Dead." And the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a tune called "Eddie," in which the murder of Meat Loaf's Eddie character is replayed. And in "The Blues" by Randy Newman, our hero Eddie dies in a bar fight with a pair of Marines.
Keep your ears open-you'll see there's just a ton of songs in which a character named Ed, for whatever reason, ends up dead, and I gotta tell you, I'm beginning to feel like The Gods of Rock have a cosmic sniper rifle pointed at me at all times. Because just when I least expect it-blam blam blam-Ed is dead again.
Like the first time I heard "Ed is Dead" by the Pixies. I was in my friend's car and he was playing his brand new Come on Pilgrim cassette.
When the song came on, I had no idea what the title was. Nor was there any warning in the lyrics that Ed was about to die. Indeed, there was no mention of Ed at all. I was just sitting there in the passenger seat, minding my own business, rocking out to this mysterious Black Francis person, when, without warning, he started chanting, "Ed. Is. Dead."
Over and over again he said it. "Ed is dead, Ed is dead," blam blam blam, "Ed is dead," leaving me totally shell-shocked in the passenger seat wondering what the hell I ever did to Black Francis to deserve that.
Or worse, sometimes there will be a warning. Like when I bought Original Gangster by Ice-T. Here I am in the middle of my first-ever Ice-T sesh, rocking out lotus-style amid a haze of sweetsmoke and admiring the artwork, when I notice that a song called "Ed" is on the song list.
Please, Ice, I think. Please don't kill Ed.
When the song comes on, it begins with Ice singing, "Let me tell ya a little story about my homeboy Ed" and goes on to rap about all the boozing, gambling and whoring Ed was doing and, in a fit of despair, I blurt out, "Come on, Ice, let a nigga live!"
At the end of the song, Ice shouts, "One night he got drunk and started driving real fast..." and the music comes to an abrupt halt. Then, with his voice all deep and shit, he matter-of-factly states (as I always knew he would), the brutal reality.
"Ed's Dead," he says.
"Et tu, Ice-tay," I say back.
I'm no paranoiac, but, really, the way the Gods of Rock keep killing me gratuitously in song all the time, can you blame me that I'm beginning to feel a little like a black man in a red shirt beaming down to an uncharted planet.
Why, why, why all the Ed killing? I used to think the reason was simply because "Ed" rhymes with "dead." But if that were true, then why are there no songs about killing Ned? Or Ted? Or Jed even? It was a real mystery to me. Then today, while listening to the Eddie song by Styx, I had the revelation.
It must be because I like Styx!
Yes, yes! That's why the Gods of Rock want me dead. It makes perfect sense. It is rock 'n' roll blasphemy to like Styx. They are the poster band for all that went wrong with rock 'n' roll. Yet I bought their albums, I went to their concerts and-Oh foul blasphemer!-I even wore their concert T-shirts. Basically, I was sponsoring a band that the Gods of Rock believed to be managed and produced by Satan. Hence the cosmic hit contract on my ass.
Well, you know what, Gods of Rock? Screw you! Yeah, I like Styx. I like them a lot! I liked their early-burly acid-rock days, and I liked their girly-gay middle days, and, yes, I even liked their turdy-nerdy latter days. That's right, Gods of Music, Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto is Latin for, "Kiss my ass, wankers." That's right I said it! "Kiss my pasty white buttocks, you immortal, omniscient, arrogant sons-of-bitc...."
Blam blam blam.
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