Monday, May 28, 2012

Iron Maiden Memorial Day Playlist

Anti-war rallies would be more effective if they played more metal. Why is it always "Get Up, Stand Up" and never "War Pigs," "One" or "Civil War?" Few arts can depict the brutality of the battlefield as unnervingly as metal.

Bands have built careers on protesting war (Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Misery Index), even when the songs don't reflect their creator's own beliefs (Megadeth). Every time Lamb of God decry the government for mistreating its military, they are stepping into a pool with Slayer's "War Ensemble" and Sepultura's "Territory."

But before we get to an anti-war metal mix CD, remember that today is not about chickenhawk politicians who sacrifice the working class and stigmatize anti-war sentiments as being anti-troops. Today is about the brave men and women who risked and gave their lives in wars that, to paraphrase Trotsky, were interested in them, even if the fighters weren't interested in war. In modern music, no great band has honored these heroes more than Iron Maiden. Here's a playlist for today.

1. "Aces High" (from Powerslave, 1984)

Maiden's best show-opener starts with a history lesson (Churchill's "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" speech) and peaks with a chorus that soars as high as a Battle for Britain pilot. Watch out.

2. "The Trooper" (from Piece of Mind, 1983)

Inspired by Lord Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade, "The Trooper" memorializes the British soldiers who died in the failed Crimean War charge. History books aren't as kind as they should be, so thank Steve Harris for taking it into his hands.

3. "Women in Uniform" (single, 1980)

Maiden hadn't found their best voice yet--they were still employing singer Paul Di'Anno and covering bands like Skyhooks, who wrote this well-meaning but stupid ode to a group that never gets enough credit. Some day women in combat will get the anthem that they deserve, but until then the least someone can do is Maidenize it.

4. "Where Eagles Dare" (from Piece of Mind, 1983)

"The world is grown so bad, that wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch," quoth the Bard in Richard III. Centuries later, the Shakespeare of Metal sung of those who are boldest when the world is at its worst.

5. "Die With Your Boots On" (from Piece of Mind, 1983)

A modern twist on the "With your shield or on it" adage? A tribute to a comically inaccurate Errol Flynn movie? This fan favorite is up for interpretation, but hear it today as a salute to the fearless armed forces.

Download here: Iron Maiden Memorial Day Playlist


Anonymous said...

Ben, your blog is perhaps the most comprehensive cultural artifact I have come across.

Ben Apatoff said...

I'm honored! Thank you for your kindness.