Monday, March 23, 2015

I've Got Another Thing Comin

I saw a Terminix commercial the other day. It was set to Judas Priest’s You’ve Got Another Thing Comin. It bummed me the fuck out. Of course my first thought was “Oh great, another rock n’ roll band that sold out.” So, like any social-media savvy person of the current day, I posted a status on Facebook relaying my disappointment. What I didn’t expect was to get someone who disagreed with me. (Isn’t that always the way on Facebook…) Anyway, this person, an old friend of mine from my high school days defended Judas Priest and their right to do whatever they want with their music. He asked me if it “tarnished” the music. Yes. Yes it does. In fact, that’s exactly what it does.

While I completely understand what my old friend was saying (he did make some very valid points,) and by no means do I mean him any disrespect (he is a musician as well), but that song is now forever ruined for me. Every time I hear it, I will think of a giant winged insect being hunted by a guy with a tank of poison. Not cool. As I searched for the commercial on the internet (I wanted to view it one more time before writing this blog,) I couldn't seem to find it, but I did come across another Terminix commercial with a song by AC/DC. This broke my heart into a bazillion pieces. Judas Priest was bad enough, but AC/DC?! This is becoming an epidemic! AC/DC, in my humble opinion, are ROCK GODS! I worship those guys! They are definitely in my Top Five Rock Bands of All Time. How could this be? How can I possibly be living in a world where the most rockin' music of my generation (and generations before) is being used to sell bug poison? Am I living in an alternate universe? This is madness! I feel like Dewey Finn screaming at a classroom full of clueless school children "AH! What do they teach in this place!?"

Now, this is not a judgement on these people (I love and respect most of the artists I will mention in this blog) but rather a selfish rant on how it makes me feel. A little piece of me dies inside when I see a Led Zeppelin song being used to sell Cadillacs. Zeppelin is another classic band in my Top Five Rock Bands of All Time. I mean, I get it. The people who are most apt to buy Cadillacs come from the generation when Led Zeppelin was at its prime. The advertising companies are trying to use Rock And Roll to bring on a sense of nostalgia and make all those rich old white guys long for endless summer nights when driving around in your 8-cylinder, gas-guzzling boat with a hot chick in the front and a six-pack in the back was the ultimate status symbol. And they’re smart. They’re smart for doing that, because that is what’s gonna sell their product; I get it. But what about the fans? I mean the real fans? The ones who appreciate the music for what it is. The ones who listened to those songs over and over and over again without ever getting tired of them? The ones who stood in line in freezing cold temperatures to spend a good chunk of their hard-earned money just to be able to get the chance to buy a ticket to their concert? The ones who wallpapered their bedrooms with posters and articles and pictures? The ones whose record collection was their most prized possession?

Music was an enormous part of my childhood and continues to be an ongoing source of inspiration for me and my art. It’s amazing how listening to certain music can instantly put me in a better mood. As an adolescent, I relied heavily on music for a lot of things. It gave me an outlet. It connected me with people. It allowed me to be free. But most importantly, it made me feel good. I had numerous friends who were musicians. I idolized certain rock bands and artists. And it was all because they made me feel something. Something good and worthwhile and valuable.

All I can think when I see a commercial using one of these classic songs today is “My god, Jim Morrison must be turning over in his grave.” For those of you that don’t know the story, in the late 60’s, The Doors sold their song Light My Fire to Buick for use in a commercial for the new Buick Opel. They did this without Jim’s knowledge; it was a deal the other 3 members of the band made without him. Upon learning of the sale, Jim flipped the fuck out, threatening to smash an Opel to pieces as part of his new act. Needless to say, Buick and The Doors parted ways and the song was never used. And although I don’t condone smashing a car to bits to make a point, I get where he was coming from. This music, this art is a very precious thing; a result of the artists’ blood sweat and tears. It stood for something. It stood for freedom and artistic expression and (to use another Dewey-ism) “stickin’ it to the man!” And to use it to sell a car for that very “man” you were trying to “stick it to,” was…well, blasphemous.

In today’s world, the line between artistry and commercialism is so blurred that I think most people don’t even notice it. I remember the first time I saw that Capital One ad with Samuel Jackson. I posted something about that on Facebook, too and was met with some resistance. Again, I get it. People should be allowed to choose what they do with their particular art and I applaud them for being able to get a paycheck from it. Good for them. But, here’s my problem: I have no desire to see the Baddest Mothafucka in the movies pimping a fucking bank. Because, essentially that’s what credit cards are, right? Banks? I mean, for the sweet love of Jesus, Morgan Freeman, I love you dearly and you are one of the coolest, smartest, well-spoken men of our time, but I do not want to see you selling me a Visa card! I want to watch you tell me about the wonders of the universe in Through The Wormhole, I want to watch you light up the screen playing multi-faceted characters, I want to listen as you narrate well...anything. But I do not want you to tell me how great it is to have a fucking Visa card!

Now, there are some exceptions. If the commercial is for a good cause or something meaningful, it doesn’t bother me. Take Sarah McLachlan. Even though I want to stab her in the eye with a sharp object every time one of her “save the animals” commercials comes on, I applaud her for it. She is using her celebrity to better the world we live in. Me getting a Capital One credit card is not going to make the world a better place.

The harsh fact that I've had to come to terms with is that this is the world we now live in, and if I want to be a part of that world, I have to suck it up and deal with it. I have to deal with Matthew McConaughey selling me Lincolns, Scarlett Johansson selling me Sodastreams, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell selling me Samsung's entire line of products, and Eddie Money selling me auto insurance.

Crap. I think I might have to kill my TV.


  1. I wouldn't be too critical of Judas Priest allowing Terminix to use their music. Have you ever listened to the lyrics of that song? They may be gifted musicians. But the lyrics reveal them to also be unrepentent capitalists - "Out there is a fortune waiting to be had. If you think I'll let it go, you're mad." So, by marketing their song to Terminix, they're merely being true to their capitalist nature - milking their music for all it's worth. As a capitalist myself, I think they made a smart move.

    1. P.S. BTW, I think it took a lot of courage by Terminix to produce that ad. You'd think they'd be afraid of the Bible-thumpers who might protest the ad ... suggesting that a band using the name "Judas Priest" might be a Satanic band. Such a suggestion (if believed) might cost Terminix some serious business.

  2. Just one final note on the song. When I was growing up, a common phrase was, "You've got another THINK coming." And when I listen to the song, it seems that's what they're saying. A lot of lyrics sites say THING, not THINK. Even the official site for Judas Priest says THING, not THINK. But it wouldn't be the first time a copy-writer misinterpreted a lyric - nor would it be the first time a band decided to "go with the flow," especially if it wasn't noticed until after the recording was pressed. THINK would seem more appropriate in the context of the lyric preceding it, "If you THINK I'll let it go, you're mad - you've got another THINK coming."

    Also consider what the book, "Common Errors in English Usage," says:

    P.S. One of my favorite misinterpretations comes from the Jimi Hendrix song, "Purple Haze." The correct lyric was:

    "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky."

    But some have misinterpreted it as a homosexual reference:

    "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy."