Best Of Phoenix, and the Transformers Soundtrack

This is partly another Behind The Music post. So this is #3 right? Maybe it’s #4. I dunno. Anyway.

This, as they say, happened today:

The New Times Best of Phoenix issue is sort of a state treasure. Not one person in New York publishing could care less that New Times gave me this honor (most likely, and that’s okay, I don’t read their fancyass publications either), but around my home town, this is the shit. I don’t think it means free drinks at British Open Pub or anything, but it means . . . it means you earned it. That’s the thing about New Times. This is the same publication that began a review for one of my shows with “Get the hook!” If and when the New Times says you’re legit, you earned it. They don’t pass this stuff around easily. They don’t screw around with this issue. I stopped caring what Kirkus and Horn Book had to say about me about four years ago; and in a sense, they will never matter now, because New Times vetted me. Coupled with the Best New Local Author 2012 from Phoenix magazine, I gotta say, I love my hometown critics! And, as happens so often, this nod came at a great time, neatly erasing – or at least shoving aside for the moment – lingering and ongoing doubts about my usefulness as a, you know, human. <wink!>

But seriously, New Times . . . this makes my year.



So Toby discovered my Transformers: The Movie soundtrack this morning. Nah nah nah, hold on, we’re talking the real movie starring Judd Nelson and Orson Welles. (Let that sink in for a minute. Orson Welles and Bender were in a movie together. This is a great card to play during any Six Degrees game.) This is the album with the bad-ass metal version of the Transformers theme song.

The thing that struck me this morning driving Tobes to preschool was this: I still know most of the words to most of the songs. And most of the lyrics are full of these standard 1980’s power anthems (not unlike “You’re the BEST/Arooooound!/Nothin’s gonna ever KEEP you DOWN!” from The Karate Kid.)

I mean, check this out:

You never bend, you never break
You seem to know just what it takes
You’re a fighter

It’s in the blood, it’s in the will
It’s in the mighty hands of steel
When you’re standin’ your ground (The Touch, Stan Bush)

Dude! That is some fist-pumping, Decepticon-ass-kicking shit right there! Or this, from Spectre General (aka Kickaxe) from a cover by John Farnham)

We won’t be denied
We know that time is on our side
We’ve got the passion and the pride
We won’t be denied

This generations
With fire in our eyes
Strong are the ties that bind us
We don’t need no alibis

Nothing’s gonna stand in our way

This is the stuff I was listening too when I was 10, 11, 12 years old. Over and over. As we drove this morning, I couldn’t help wondering…did lyrics like this actually get into my head, and into my soul? I know, I know; I’m a bona fide nerd, but even this crosses the line, right?

Still. I happen to be someone who is, shall we say, ambitious; not for money or power or prestige, but rather just for getting things done in my life that I want to get done. There are very few things I’ve wanted and not gotten, eventually. Again – not talking about an expensive new car or huge house on the mountain. I’m talking about things like, say, “I want to direct this play.” Done. “I want to publish the novel.” Done.  “I want to play out with a band.” Done. “I want to make this movie.” Done. (The movie, Endgame, aired exactly once on a Phoenix public access channel.  The band played one gig to a house of about 15 people. See what I mean? It wasn’t about prestige, it was about doing the thing you set out to do. Just, you know…’cause!)

Maybe those cheesy, cornball lyrics from the 80’s actually did make an impression. Maybe it’s why people still listen to that music in the gym. 

So yeah, my kid will be a geek like me – if I do my job right. If those sappy lyrics and hard-drivin’ synths are just one more tool in his arsenal to deal with whatever life throws at him, with whatever he wants to make of it, then I’ll take it.

Nothin’s gonna stand in your way, Tobes. 


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