I’ve got to know tonight
If you’re alone tonight
Can’t stop this feeling
Can’t stop this fire
How much is a hang with Def Leppard WORTH?
Twenty five thousand dollars and change. That’s what this woman from South
Carolina bid on eBay. For her and a guest to spend the afternoon watching
Leppard shoot a video and rehearse.
They looked like girls from a video one step removed. They were dieted down
to the point of having no asses. They had shag hairdos. Mules with stiletto
heels. They’d driven from coast to coast in their Lexus SUV for this one
moment, this four hour hang with Def Leppard.
So, Marc and I are sitting in the band’s dressing room, enjoying the a/c,
discussing our top ten favorite tracks of all time. Marc reels off "Message To
My Girl", a few more, and then asks me to respond in turn. But I’m flummoxed.
I mean I can name my top ten favorite ALBUMS, but songs? Are we talking
singles, or just tracks. And, after Marc responds "tracks", Rick Savage walks in.
In your mind Def Leppard may still be in their early twenties. But time has
passed. Oh, there’s really been no attrition in Rick’s face, or body for that
matter. It’s just that he’s now a fortysomething adonis instead of being a
twentysomething adonis. It’s less a reflection of HIM than a reminder that
we’ve all gotten older. And as he walks across the room, Marc posits the
question to him, what are HIS favorite top ten songs. And, after taking a few
seconds to cogitate, as if someone switched on his light, Rick’s eyes start to gleam
and he exclaims REBEL YELL!!
Yup, it’s what the song represents!
And, after thinking about it for a while, after realizing Rick wasn’t joking,
I could see it. Billy Idol might be a cartoon, but "Rebel Yell" has this
And, as Rick exited, Joe Elliott and Phil Collen entered. Joe towered over
his PowerBook, yup, rock stars are wired today, Phil started changing some
clothing, and then Marc asked them the same question.
And without missing a beat, Joe said ALL THE YOUNG DUDES!
And, from further away, Phil said he couldn’t decide between "Walking On The
Moon" and "Every Breath You Take".
These guys were not fitting the description. They were not toys of Mutt
Lange, lucky men in the game of musical stardom. They were BELIEVERS!
And while I pondered their answers, Joe looked at us and said he HAD to
include some Bowie. Figuring I’d play, figuring I knew Bowie’s canon, I suggested
"Moonage Daydream". Joe agreed! Then PHIL! Joe started waxing RHAPSODIC about "Moonage Daydream", about covering it with another aggregation,
about it being released in Japan.
And then as we started to discuss if we needed Queen, and what we would
include, the band was called back to the stage, back to the shoot.
It was like the eighties. When we still believed. The video for "No Matter
What" was being shot in a REHEARSAL HALL! Not some giant soundstage
where you could see the money tick by like the wheel on an electric meter. It was
ratty, there was a small backdrop, it was clear, rock and roll lived here. It
reminded me that deep down inside my dick still gets hard for the music, the
scene, that I still believe.
After another hour and a half of pickup shots, after devouring pizza (most of
the band would only eat the VEGAN ‘za), it was back to the hall, for the
You see that was the deal. In addition to getting the chance to hang, the
girls got to pick three numbers, that the band would perform, for them.
Only one problem, NONE OF THEM WERE HYSTERIA!
Marc and I agreed, we had to hear "Hysteria". We debated, and then Marc put
it to the guys, could they play "Hysteria" for US?
Marc returned with the thumbs-up sign.
The band started with "No Matter What".
And I think next came "Bringin’ On The Heartbreak".
I started off on the couch…what, was it five feet from the stage?
But then I had to get up. I had to stand in the exact center. I had to hear
both guitars, I had to hear a BALANCED SOUND!
And then the band broke into "Pour Some Sugar On Me".
We don’t even EXPECT anybody can play today. We expect the singers to be
aided by tape, if they’re singing AT ALL! And it’s not only them, half the show
seems to be prerecorded. It’s more about how the show LOOKS than how it
SOUNDS! But, there was no audience here, not one that mattered anyway.
There were only insiders, and the two South Carolinians. The band wasn’t mugging, they were just PLAYING! And they could hit EVERY NOTE! I’ve got Viv in one ear and Phil in the other. God, the sound could lift a fucking SPACESHIP! Rick’s
slamming the drums, Joe’s singing on top of it all, and I couldn’t help singing
ALONG! It was positively mesmerizing, it sounded like the record, but MORE,
because they were playing it like a band in a garage, but instead of being the
teenagers next door, they were DEF LEPPARD!
And then, after loitering on stage a bit, wandering around in circles, you
know how rehearsals are, Rick started pounding out a beat, Rick Savage came in
on the bass, the guitars started to sting, and suddenly there I was, in the
middle of HYSTERIA!
You’ve got to understand. I could have spent the evening with a member of
the opposite sex. But I couldn’t do that, I had to go to CHURCH, I had to go to
SYNAGOGUE, because, you see, I’m a BELIEVER! In the power of rock and roll!
My foot started to tap, my leg started to thrust, my head started going up
and down, I was like a kid at a concert. But the lights weren’t out, I wasn’t
anonymous, I was in a crowd of about twenty five people, crew members,
relatives, children, insiders, we’re supposed to be JADED,
we’re supposed to be COOL! But I couldn’t hold back.
Fewer than ten feet away from Joe Elliott, I
couldn’t help but SING ALONG!
Every fucking word.
And then, the band broke down, and like the ALLMAN BROTHERS, Viv and Phil
started playing twin leads! I had this shiteating grin on my face. THIS IS IT!
And "Hysteria" is a long song. I could luxuriate in it, enjoy it.
And having thrown off my shackles, having decided to be myself, to be
possessed by rock and roll and not worry about how I looked, I glanced down the line of people standing behind the couches. And startlingly, they were all just
like me, their legs moving, heads bobbing up and down, singing along. And on
the couch, where I’d started, off to the left, Marc was alone, he didn’t know I
was looking, he couldn’t see me grinning as he too sang along with every word.
And before I could clap when the song was over, Leppard went straight into
"Photograph", that anthem from the spring of ’83, when we still had hope, when
rock and roll still ruled the world.
And then "Animal".
We were in BONUS TRACKS! We were in ENCORES! They were only supposed to do THREE! You know how it is when you get more than you expect in life. When you get MUCH MORE than you expect. THIS is what you live for, it’s like you’re drenched in honey, like you’ve been shot up with adrenaline, life is a fucking CARNIVAL!
And I want
And I need
And I love
I’m singing along with the chorus, thrusting my Arrowhead bottle in the air,
feeling like I’m fifteen, and I’m LOVING IT!
And when they were done, Phil and Joe came over to bullshit. We were talking
how it used to be. When bands were in it for the music, not the fame. When
labels employed music lovers, not bottom liners. It was like a revival
meeting. They may have appeared pretty boys once, but that’s not who they are,
they were infected just like you and me, they feel PRIVILEGED to be part of the
legacy of rock and roll. It was all they ever wanted, and they got it. Sure,
they don’t mind the money, but really, they love to PLAY!
I get hysterical, hysteria
Oh can you feel it, do you believe it
It’s such a magical, mysteria
When you get that feelin’, better start believin’
Cause it’s a miracle, oh say you will, ooh babe
Hysteria when you’re near
Def Leppard’s new double CD greatest hits album is going to enter the chart
at number ten, with 60,000 units sold. Their ballpark tour with Bryan Adams is
one of the surprise hits of the summer.
Eighties nostalgia is in full swing.
But it’s more than that. You see, they don’t do it like that anymore. It’s
no longer how you play, but how you look. It’s not about going to the rock
show, but dancing in the club. They say rock is dead, but I think the major
labels and the media have abandoned the audience. Instead of giving the people
what they want, HYSTERIA, EUPHORIA, they’re giving them something
two-dimensional, phony. Hell, if it were real, people would want to see it live, again and again, year after year, whereas you’re lucky today if people want to see it
live ONCE! The business has jumped the track. Everything it was built upon
has been ignored. The culture has been cast aside. We didn’t used to need TV
and magazines to sell music, music SOLD ITSELF! It wasn’t a prefab
construction, but something built by religious zealots, who didn’t get plastic surgery,
who didn’t cross over from teen movies, but practiced, in their bedrooms, for
HOURS after school, just hoping to develop the necessary skills to make it.
And they were looking to make money, and to get laid, but really, it was
about making a joyful noise, one that got people excited, one that removed them
from their everyday lives, one they could BELIEVE IN!
I’ve got to know tonight
If you’re alone tonight
Can’t stop this feeling
Can’t stop this fire
The fire’s not out. If you’re alone tonight, know that I’m thinking of you.
That you’re tied to me, and millions of other music fans who still believe.
Just put on your favorite record. "A Night At The Opera". "Regatta De
Blanc". "Mott". And know that not everybody’s in it for the money, that the music
itself is STILL enough. You can STILL base your life around it, it STILL has