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Friday, June 20, 2008

Iron Maiden--Inspires Young to Read History?

The core of our publishing program is military (and general) history.

People who know me well know I played classical piano for many years (well into college), toured the Midwest with rock bands (bass, keyboards), and love music. People who know me really well know I love Mozart, Chopin . . . and Iron Maiden.

I love good hard rock, and Iron Maiden is not your typical rock act. After 30 years, they are better than ever, and their cerebral approach to music is, for those who take the time to study it, breathtaking. The hooks are memorable, the music complex and based on classical training, and the harmonies wonderful.

Many of their songs are based upon historical events (or famous pieces of literature). For example, their opening song on their 2008 tour is Aces High, about the Battle of Britain against the Nazis in 1940. Others include Paschendale (WWI battle), Flight of Icarus, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (one of my personal favorites, a 13-minute epic based upon a long poem by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written at the end of the 18th century), Tailgunner (B-17 gunner, WWII), Mother Russia (about the Tzars)--the list is long indeed.

(Stay with me; the payoff is worthwhile, I think).

I took my 12-year old son to his first concert last month: Iron Maiden at the Concord Pavilion. It was the best I have ever seen (I have seen them before). My son Demetri (DT) has never been a big fan of history, though he loves to read. Recently, I caught him reading Coleridge's poem Rime (see above). Then, yesterday, I found him reading on-line about D-Day--Operation Overlord. When I asked him why, he brought up Iron Maiden's song on their latest album called "The Longest Day."

"Pop, did you know this was about D-Day?"

I played dumb. "Really? How do you know?"

DT promptly brought up the lyrics, and then produced an on-line history of D-Day, and began comparing and discussing them. He also discussed the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan.

"This is so cool. And their long song--Rime of the Ancient Mariner--you know, the one you sing all day long, it really follows the actual poem pretty close!"

He was excited. About H-I-S-T-O-R-Y.

Now he is reading about Icarus and Alexander the Great.

Here are some lyrics from The Longest Day. Bring up the studio version on Youtube.com and see if the music and words move you as much as they do us. You will feel the build up, the landing craft approaching, the fear, the determination, the machine guns spitting death, the confusion, chaos, etc.

It may take you a time or two, but when you get it, beware . . . the virus is contagious!

In the gloom the gathering storm abates
In the ships gimlet eyes await
The call to arms to hammer at the gates
To blow them wide throw evil to its fate

All summers long the drill to build the machine
To turn men from flesh and blood to steel
From paper soldiers to bodies on the beach
From summer sands to Armageddon's reach

Overlord, your master not your god
The enemy coast dawning grey with scud
These wretched souls puking, shaking fear
To take a bullet for those who sent them here

The world's alight, the cliffs erupt in flame
No escape, remorseless shrapnel rains
Drowning men no chance for a warriors fate
A choking death, enter hell's gates

Sliding we go, only fear on our side
To the edge of the wire
And we rush with the tide
All the water is red
With the blood of the dead
Although I'm still alive, pray to God I survive

How long on this longest day
'Til we finally make it through

So Iron Maiden is encouraging my son to read history? It doesn't hurt that the lead singer is a commercial airline pilot and semi-pro fencer--i.e, a quality guy. So I am encouraging this excitement in my son.

I hope it continues.

(I bet Bob Younger and Jerry Russell, wherever they are today, are shaking their heads. LOL)

1 comment:

amecoy75002 said...

I welcome anything and everthing that influences a kid to read, discuss history and current events, basically to THINK. Rock music, classical music, newspapers, NPR, lively discussions with "in the know" teachers, a quotation dropped in conversation- anything can be a stepping stone to learning. It does not matter what the inspiration, as long as it gets the brain cells hopping around and the nuerons zapping!

Alice Keesey Mecoy