I remember the night, remember it well. I was going to college in Arlington, Texas but summers were spent in Nocona, Texas a small town north and west of where I grew up not too far from the Oklahoma border. You know, where vegetation ends Oklahoma begins. It was small town life, where you went to town, did the drag and hoped you found something to do. Occasionally you got a group together to drive east to Meunster, about 30 miles away where there was a small club called The Ranch which for being a small town managed to pull in some pretty good local bands to play some live rock and roll. It was a dive, a place to see people you knew, meet people you didn’t and drink beer. You never knew what you would find to do in a small town.
One night I was there with a friend of mine. I can’t remember what we were doing. There were not many people out as it was one of those Texas nights when it was raining cats and dogs. My friend came to me and asked if we could give another friend of ours and his girlfriend a ride. I said sure since there wasn’t much going on anyway. It was raining hard and there was a 5th person and for the life of me I cannot remember who it was. I do remember by the time we piled into my Trans Am we were soaked, the windows were fogged and we still had to get home. Water was standing on the street and I considered going backroads home but decided against it since most of them were dirt and gravel roads so it was the highway or bust. I figured the highway would be better so off we went. I also thought that there would not be many cops about so I went fast and inevitably I turned up the tape I had in my car. The girl ridng with us asked for different music so I switched cassettes to the same band different album and turned it up. I was flying, water was going everywhere, the defoggers on high and Judas Priest Screaming for Vengeance was blaring. The girl was screaming at me to slow down turn the music down and that our friend was about to puke. No one tells me to turn down Judas Priest. Up the radio went, down went the accelerator. It was a fast trip home, the rain stopped, no one got sick and the girl just got mad at me. Such is life. She wasn’t my girlfriend.
I say it again.
If you love music and even if you only just like music you probably have that band that you will follow no matter what; through bad albums, lineup changes through anything. You mourn them when they disband like any loss and if a member dies there is real grief attached to the loss. The band and the songs they sing evoke memories, songs you remember when you were in love or when you went through a breakup, good nights bad nights, milestones hit were celebrated or lamented with the band you love. I have more than a few of these bands. Judas Priest is one of them.
Long after my single days ended and I had a kid of my own I was surprised to find my kid singing the song Grinder. It’s a Judas Priest song that I have changed the words to a thousand times and since I make up a lot of songs that I sing when I am mowing the yard or cleaning the house my son thought it was just one of those songs. He was surprised to find that it was real and that still makes me laugh. Yes I still make up words to that song.
I have every album. I have bought Screaming for Vengeance three times and Defenders of the Faith four. I spent two years following them around and driving anywhere within driving distance to see them live. I loved those twin guitars of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton and now as they have gotten older and Downing retired from the band and Tipton struggling with Parkinson’s so that he is only a part-time player it sddens me. That’s what happens what is happening all the rockers I love so much are aging and slowly fading away.
Not too long ago I was channel surfing and came across a concert of the band. It brought up the same old feelings, the same ones I had the first time I watched them. It was interesting to see the entire band leave the stage except Tipton and then watching him mesmerized with just an acoustic guitar pretty much blow me away. By the audience’s reaction I suppose they agreed with me.
Judas Priest continues to play music today. Rob Halford still belts out vocals with arguably the greatest heavy metal voice of all time. I have every album and it’s always fun to see how a band develops over time over the course of a couple of decades. Their music gets your blood moving, makes your ears ring and sure not everyone loves heavy metal music so they are not for everyone.
I realize this blog entry is a little short. For the past month I have been moving and it’s only been a few days that I have had my stereo back up and all of my music organized. I had intended to write about Journey but I am still organizing and so I decided that writing about those bands that we all have would be just as important. I know there are some people that don’t love music the same way I do. I know there are some that don’t have and have never had that band that they just cherished. It’s just hard for me to understand. It always seems to me that when my music has taken a down turn and I just get a lot of blah music back to back to back that something pops up on the horizon to get me excited. No different than when your favorite band is announced as coming to your town and tickets are going on sale, How do i get them? It just drives you and will do so until those lights go down and start swirling on the stage and the opening notes hit you no matter where you are. Maybe it’s the sound of a motorcycle revving up. Hell yea. The Priest is back in town.