RECORD STORE TALES PART 1: The Beginning – “Run To The Hills”
I still remember the first time I heard Iron Maiden.
Maybe it’s this way for some when they remember the first time they heard the Beatles, or the Stones. Or for those younger, maybe it’s like the first time they heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “Fake Plastic Trees”. The first time I heard “Run To The Hills” was monumental to me, but I didn’t realize yet what the massive impact would be.
It was Christmas of 1984. I was a mere 12 year old looking for musical direction. I hadn’t been much interested in music prior to that. I had albums by Quiet Riot and Styx, but my majority of my collection was John Williams’ movie soundtracks.
I really wasn’t interested in music yet. I had yet to dedicate myself to any particular style. At the same time that I would listen to Quiet Riot, I somehow also thought Billy Ocean was cool.
Well, the video for “Loverboy” was nifty….
I had always been kinda afraid of heavy metal bands. Guys that wore spikes, like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden. Kiss literally scared me when I was buying my first comics (there were always ads for Kiss posters inside comic books), and I know I wasn’t the only one. The neighbor kid was scared to death of Gene Simmons spitting up blood. Bands like Maiden and Priest looked like a bunch of hooligans, definitely up to no good, definitely out to hurt people, including kids.
Boxing Day, Bob came over. It was tradition, every Boxing Day, Bob and I would get together and compare our Christmas scores. Bob scored a cassette tape called Masters Of Metal Volume 2 and I was given an Atari game called Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron.
In my basement, we sat down to play the video game. Our goal was to take the game as far as humanly possible, to see what happened when you shot down so many planes that the Atari didn’t have enough characters to display it anymore. (Incidentally, disappointingly, like most Atari games, it just starts counting up from zero again.) We sat there playing that game so long that Bob had to go home and eat lunch, then come back. But what he left behind while eating was Masters Of Metal.
“Run To The Hills” came on. Some people speak of moments of clarity: That was my moment. The music was fast, powerful, dramatic and melodic. The lyrics were cool and you could mostly sing along. Most importantly, the music and lyrics seemed to combine with the game experience. When Dickinson was singing “Run to the hills, run for your lives!” it meshed perfectly! Too bad Aces High wasn’t out yet!
A moment like that could quickly pass into history and be forgotten for most people. As the day wore on, I realized that I had found something. This music kicked ass! I was brought up on movie soundtracks. This stuff had the same drama, but with guitars! This was even better than Quiet Riot and AC/DC, so I said at the time.
It didn’t end there of course. We played through Masters Of Metal, finding a few more diamonds. “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” By Judas Priest was definitely a close second to “Run To The Hills”. We were fixated on Accept’s “Balls To The Wall”. We’d play it over and over again laughing hysterically at the lyrics. But the song still rocked! I can still remember when MuchMusic started the Power Hour, and they played that video. There’s little Udo Dirkscheider, in his camo pants, and crew cut, rocking with these skinny German guys with long hair. It was fucking hilarious!
We skipped (what we then thought was) the crap…Lee Aaron, Anvil, Triumph. I grew into them later, particularly Triumph. Something to do with double guitars, maybe. I digress. We always came back to Iron Maiden. Always.
Bob would bring other tapes over as the months and years went by. W.A.S.P., Motley Crue, Black Sabbath. Now Bob’s a father of four who doesn’t listen to rock music anymore, which makes me sad in a way. I’m not sad for him, because he’s got a great family and always has. I’m more sad because I don’t think he can ever appreciate what impact our shared experiece of rocking out had on me. Listening to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and the rest. The was it, the beginning.