Outsider Section: Adamo

The topic of my last post inspired me to introduce to you an alternative musician who has not only written love songs and amusing chansons, but also created lyrics conveying deep thought wrapped in amazing metaphors. The all-rounder Salvatore Adamo was born in 1943 to Italian parents in Belgium. Inspired perhapy by his mixed cultural upbringing, Adamo did not only compose and sing in French, but also in English, German, Italian, Spanish and Turkish, writing and translating all of his lyrics himself.

Up to 2014 the singer has published 33 studio albums. His song “Diese Welt ist ein Jahrmarkt“ (1971, translated: “This world is a funfair“) sounds lighter than it actually is: Adamo compares our lives to a funfair during which we all need to struggle through the funambulation of our youth, let us be lead by others like marionettes and suffer manipulation. Enjoy his thoughtful words and a wonderful chanson:


Sex and Drugs and Occultism? Heavy Lyrics Scrutinised

The crowd undulates, wet hair is flying all around, fists are brandished in the air, raucous choruses are chanted – then a collective intake of breath, and hundreds of hoarse Metalheads bellow at the top of their voices: “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast!” We do not think but let us get carried away by the breathtaking impact of bass and rhythm and the adored hymns of our favourites onstage. Lyrics don’t exactly matter when you are banging your head off. However, sparing a thought for those words sung into your ears forever and ever can be quite illuminating.

Heavy Metal enthusiasm... (picture: blowthescene.com)

Heavy Metal enthusiasm… (picture: blowthescene.com)

Worldly music is judged by its lyrics at least as much as by its sound. Although mainstream chart pop (no offence!) generally appears not to pay too close attention to its singers’ textual outbursts – the increasing frequency of “He He”s and “La La”s in modern lyrics is sad proof for this thesis – it is especially the controversial genres that tend to be judged and condemned for their textual style. It was back in the wild days of Twisted Sister and Mötley Crüe that Heavy Metal lyricists had to publicly justify their writing for the first time. Since 1985 considerable change has affected the social acceptance, or sufferance, of Heavy music, but the post-disaster scapegoating and youth-guarding censorship of modern America and Europe have not yet ceased, nor will they, in my humble opinion, ever do so. It is in our hands, therefore, to listen to Heavy Metal lyrics, assess their quality and find out whether they are indeed as evil as portrayed by worried journalists and frustrated parents…

Despite Dee Snider’s legendary vindication of free creation and interpretation in the music business, stereotypical misgivings escort the entry of Metal records into adolescents’ rooms even today. Sex, drugs, depression and suicide are only a small choice of topics dreaded by parents and those institutions decorating albums with the note ‘Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics’. Do not misunderstand me: I appreciate the committees’ endeavours to protect children from content they are too young to digest. However, music remains art – and art needs a certain freedom of expression.

Far from revolving around intercourse and premature death, Heavy Metal lyrics are versatile. Subjects range from religious beliefs, political criticism, economic exploitation and the horrors of war to matters of justice, racism, violence, death and murder to love, regret, obsession and fun. They can be pessimistic, hilarious, angry or downright inscrutable. Lyrics will be the focus of this blog’s next posts. I want to introduce you to the Biblical scenes of Becoming the Archetype, to Black Sabbath’s coming to terms with the remains of World War Two, to Skindred deploring gang violence, Ektomorf struggling with their Roma existence, and Tenacious D making fun of virtually everyone and everything. Together we might delve into Scar Symmetry’s neverending Universe, inhale Ozzy Osbourne’s “Sweet Leaf” and solve the mystery of Marlon Brando’s eyes.



In the beginning was the word…