Thank God for Alice Cooper! 50 years ago, he was considered by the mainstream to be nothing more than an untalented shock rocker. In 2020, he is inspiring people to keep on keepin’ on. He’s got a powerful message for anyone who needs to hear it.
“Don’t Give Up” is the most direct, the most topical and the least “Alice” song that the Coop has ever done. Why the “least” Alice? Because this time he is not playing a character. He’s not telling some horrifying bedtime story. Or is he? “Don’t Give Up” is about Coronavirus and blatantly so.
“Yeah, I know you’re struggling right now. We all are, in different ways. It’s like a new world that we don’t even know. It’s hard to sleep, even harder to dream. But look, you got seven billion brothers and sisters all in the same boat! So don’t panic. Life has a way of surviving and going on and on. We’re not fragile and we sure don’t break easy.”
This single was recorded in home studios. It’s accompanied by a cool video expertly produced by Canuck Frank Gryner, using footage sent in by fans. It is so rare for Alice to really make a statement that pertains to current events. And it is a very specific song; there are no underlying stories or metaphors to untangle. But when you think about Coop, it’s not really surprising that he came out of the gates so fast with a song like this. Alice Cooper is a human being that cares about other human beings. The message is simple: keep fighting and don’t give up. Sometimes people need to actually hear the words.
Musically you could call “Don’t Give Up” a power ballad. It has a very 80’s guitar figure, with Alice speaking his message over it. The chorus is more modern, with Alice singing as plaintively as he can. “Don’t Give Up” is unremarkable as a rock ballad, but as a lyrical accomplishment, Alice has forged new ground 50 years on. He has written some remarkably powerful words.
“Our enemy is a cold, indiscriminate monster. It doesn’t care if you’re old or a newborn. It exists to kill. You and I are nothing to it. It has no heart or soul or conscience. Do we fear it? Yeah! Do we cower before it? Hell no! We’re the blood-n-guts human race. And we win.”
The important thing that Alice says here is that it is alright to be afraid. Look, Alice has fought demons, and if this scares him then there is no shame in feeling fear. People are being labelled as cowards for wearing a mask in public. Alice is right — we will win, and we will do whatever it takes to win. If you’re scared right now, you tell ’em that Alice Cooper said that’s OK.