In ’78 my family up and moved to Mesquite, Texas where I attended J.C. Rugel Elementary and my older brother attended North Mesquite High School, where model Jerry Hall went to high school. I was put into advanced classes and Spanish was a required course. My best friend was a little Mexican boy named Jose. We would sit on the curb after school and I would try to speak Spanish.
The Mexican culture affected me greatly. Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a celebration on November 1st and 2nd where family and friends gather to remember loved ones who have died. Tradition includes building alters honoring the deceased placing sugar skulls, marigolds (inspiring Dave Grohl of Nirvana to write the song Marigold), and the favorite food and beverages of the departed, as well as, visiting graves with these as gifts.
While sitting between Michael Hutchence and Adam Ant I made up the song Deadman’s Party and No One Lives Forever which I mentioned in an earlier post. Both bands had a very distinctive sound, INXS being more Ska New Wave with Adam & The Ants being Punk Rock and New Wave. Once I had an idea, a song most of the time would just spill out. It was my way of conveying what I really couldn’t vocalize and veil it in song. They would record me singing it and I would go over the rest (the instrumental part) with the other artists like Kurt or members of Def Leppard.
We talked about my brother coming home one day loaded with test tubes, I always figured he stole them from school. My dad and brother set off to buy a bushel of grain to try their hand at making grain alcohol. What they produced was a clear almost tasteless liquid. From this conversation I made up the song Weird Science.
Plastic tubes and pots and pans
Bits and pieces and
Magic from the hand
Things I’ve never seen before
Behind bolted doors
Talent and imagination
Since Joe Elliott was standing in the doorway of a dressing room behind me as I made up songs, there was a reference to Def Leppard’s song Bringin’ On The Heartbreak and Photograph as pictures.
Pictures from a magazine
Diagrams and charts
Mending broken hearts (and makin’)
Something like a recipe
Bits and pieces . . . .
Bits and pieces . . . .
Bits and Pieces is a 1960’s song originally written and performed by members of The Dave Clark Five. The Supremes recorded a cover in 1964 (Diana Ross being a member who was a longtime friend of Michael Jackson), and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts recorded a cover for their 1981 album. I am a huge Joan Jett & The Blackhearts fan.
Later I learned from a girlfriend about Alabama’s history in NASCAR racing starting with bootleggers. Her family had a long line of bootleggers back in the day and most of my friends were known to go to Talladega Superspeedway for the races. NASCAR racers Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, and Red Farmer were known as the Alabama Gang. I told Tom Cruise about my friend which inspired Days of Thunder.
The idea for the band Theory of a Deadman came years later while I was writing songs which the band performs, including Low Life. The band name came from talking to Michael Jackson about the Big Bang Theory and from the song Deadman’s Party.
Low Life performed by Theory of a Deadman even mentions Joe Elliott with me referring to him as Joe Dirt which inspired the 2001 movie.