|“Man, this scarification on my forearm really makes me think of that summer I did this. To be young!”|
Which is completely true.
I love Slayer (clearly not as much as that guy) but my all time favorite metal band is Motorhead. I learned an awful lot about life from Lemmy’s lyrics and machine gun melodies – as I’m sure we all have. Certainly, there are bands out there made up of serious musicians and there are bands who, somehow, manage to play faster/louder – there’s never been a band quite like Motorhead.
To illustrate this point – “why Motorhead is so goddamn awesome” – I’ll be dissecting the lyrics and video for 1984’s “Killed By Death”.
DISCLAIMER: yes, the lack of an umlaut is pissing me off too, there’s nothing I can do about it.
The video starts off like your normal rock and roll video from the 80s. Some chick just wants to get out and find some down and dirty rock n roll, but her douchebag parents don’t want to let her go because she “looks like a juvenile delinquent!” Frankly, I find this to already be unrealistic because the woman appears to be at least twenty seven and her parents have most definitely come unstuck in time from the 1950s.
Whitesnake Barbie rolls her eyes in exasperation. Then, suddenly, this deep, terrifying noise starts up. At first, it’s far away – this unconventional family is safe.
But before long, that hateful sound is upon them.
|This guy really should have been in every metal video from the 1980s.|
There’s a tremendous crash and –
– and fucking Lemmy crashes through their living room wall on a Harley. I imagine that Lemmy was at a bar in Bristol, inhaling a bottle of Jack while simultaneously lighting a cigarette (you know he could) when suddenly the fur on the back of his neck stood on end and he just knew he was needed elsewhere.
Before the family’s shock has fully registered, he skids to a halt in front of the living room sofa. And promptly steals their daughter.
At this point, let’s pause for some Motorhead trivia. Did you know that Lemmy’s real name is Ian? It’s true! Did you also know that “Kilmister” is his birth name? His fucking birth name.
The girl doesn’t seem nearly as terrified as she rightfully should be but, you know, whatever. Time for a speedy exit. But Lemmy doesn’t just “back up”. “Backing up” is for queers. He just crashes through the other wall – and now the greatest adventure of this girl’s life is about to begin. A dangerous life of fast cars, danger, fire and knives – but Lemmy’s a romantic. And you know he’s going to treat her right.
If you squeeze my lizard/ I’ll put my snake on you
First words of the song right there. Maybe Polly Q. Midwesternstein should have stayed home after her shift at the Dairy Queen. Should’ve just said hello to her parents then slinked on up to her room to read or something. But no, she wanted to rock and now she’s in the hands of the Kilmister.
Meanwhile, a group of concerned parents have met up to burn the LPs of that heathen DevilBand (note to self: DevilBand, great name for a band, work on logo). These people just don’t “get it”. Metal is not for you squares, man.
Motorhead’s just here to rock, baby. Motorhead is here to play some rock and roll, drink some Jack, pillage your daughters, and just generally enjoy themselves. I’m sorry, but I thought this was America.
Here, we find Lemmy on the run, pursued by some totally bitch-ass cops who want to cripple his buzz. At first, it’s only one car.
But Lemmy can’t be fucked to care. He doesn’t even look back. He’s just singin’, and the girl is going insane on his back.
I’m a lone wolf liger/ But I ain’t no pretty boy
That’s right. 1984. Lemmy invented the word “liger”. Suck it, Napoleon Dynamite. Lemmy also invented the words “volcano”, “muffin”, as well as the phrase “the Black Death”.
Wait, no, I read that wrong – Lemmy just invented the plague and brought it to Europe in the 14th century.
Perhaps that’s why when a second cop car pulls up, the law sees fit to crawl out the driver’s side window and just fucking unload a few shotgun shells at Lemmy’s back/the hostage they are trying to recover.
Remarkably, these shots – all six of them – don’t manage to find Lemmy’s flesh once.
The Kilmister escapes. And that’s when what he’s been up to all along. He’s been building an army of concubines.
There are like, seven fucking broads there! Okay, I’ll give you that the figure with the sunglasses is, in fact, Motorhead’s second guitarist Wurzel. But still.
Lemmy gets a few steps in, while singing about how he’s only going to be stopped when he’s “Killed By Death” when he’s actually stopped by like, forty five policeman and multiple gunshot wounds.
That’s Lemmy’s boots sticking out of the paddy wagon. They just picked him up and threw him in there and then drove off.
This is the very next shot. I promise.
Holy shit. This video does not fuck around. If this were like, any other metal video, you just know that the boys in the band would deflect the bullets with their guitars and the power of Rock. That is the way that metal videos go.
If every other metal music video is the ending of a Doctor Who season, where everything generally works out after the Doctor finds some sort of space deus ex machina or something equally fantastic — then “Killed By Death” is like the ending of a Torchwood season. Nothing is okay, nothing goes right, your favorite character dies and fuck you there’s nothing you can do about it.
There’s a totally bitchin’ guitar solo. Which plays out in a little square off in the corner while Lemmy is being strapped in.
And then fucking executed.
Literally, thirteen seconds before this, Lemmy was just rockin’ in the desert, having a grand old time. He was just singing about pussy and how rad a thing that it is. Now he’s being executed.
I’ve seen a lot of music videos where the bands are persecuted for their ways – I can even vaguely recall times when a band has been martyred for the cause (rockin’). But that’s not what’s at work here. The shot of the record burning hints that Motorhead is on the run because people just don’t understand the Metal. But that’s way after we see Lemmy steal a girl – despite the fact that I feel she looks like she’s got a lot of student loans and bad credit, she is living at home. And then Lemmy basically kidnaps her and that is most definitely a crime so – oh wait, Lemmy’s head is on fire.
There’s a heartfelt funeral scene. Attended by both the abducted blonde chick. And her parents.
|Who look kinda sad…?|
Lemmy interjects from beyond the grave, looking like Peter Lorre doing an impression of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, simply saying the chorus over and over, “Killed by Death…Killed by Death…”
|Sleep well, children!|