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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Notes From the Old School: Billy Idol's Rebel Yell


You're either comfortable in discussing the first time you had sex or you're not.  I'm cool with it.  Chances are you had music spinning once you popped your cherry.  It's no secret sex and rock music are chemically dependent of each other, whether the songwriting passages be blunt or subliminal.  It's only fitting one takes their sexual rite of passage with some bit of music in the background, whether it's by chance or with intended meaning to at least one of the partners engaging in the act.

As you might infer, it was Billy Idol's Rebel Yell that scored my foray into the pleasures of the flesh.  Say what you will about Idol's music as you will.  I prefer the Generation X catalog over Idol's new wave and party rock branches as a solo artist.  The 1982 self-titled album for me has moments of cool and songs that are disposable.  Don't take me there with Whiplash Smile.  Please don't.  Charmed Life, cool for a kickback.  I do have to say Idol and his main man Steve Stevens worked some slick magic on Devil's Playground in 2006.  Yet for me, while it's not perfect, there's no denying Rebel Yell is Idol's definitive body of work.

Does it have to do with the fact I think of the girl I lost "it" to once I hear "Eyes Without a Face" and how I nearly busted a nut before we conjoined with sweaty anticipation during the pumping throb of "Blue Highway?"  You betcha, but these are also quality rock songs, along with the heavy-handed pulse of the title track and the pimp stride of "Daytime Drama."  All of it is surefire foreplay leading to Rebel Yell's sweltering climax, "Flesh For Fantasy."  If you don't interpret Steve Stevens' jagged riffs during the solo section of "Flesh For Fantasy" as blasting ejaculation following the panting, inveigling verses, you don't know much about rock 'n roll.

I'd been fortunate to have an experienced and patient partner who brought me into my own as a man and while I'll leave her identity anonymous, I will make the point she was a major Billy Idol fan.  She could forgive his ridiculously trite cover of Tommy James and The Shondells' "Mony Mony" as could most of my generation.  It was an improbable shit hit I still cower from, albeit if you rolled through the eighties, you look at one another knowingly when that song is on, flashing devilish smirks and hinted echoes of "Hey everybody, get laid, get fucked!"  That was considered way-hip to shout back during the gaps of "Mony Mony's" verses as Idol gimped them. 

My partner was so head over heels for Idol she told me a few times she was going to throw her body at him should she ever meet him.  This was a promise, not a threat, even though I was insecure enough at the time to entertain the thought as potential reality.  After all, I would become a music journalist sitting before many of the bands we all dug in the day.  One-ups on her, I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Stevens around the time Devil's Playground came out.  Stevens was her fallback daydream.  So nyeh to you, my dear.

To be fair, I couldn't have asked for a better partner on my first outing.  I'd laughed when she first asked me to toss on my vinyl copy of Rebel Yell.  Yet once I saw the effect it had on her, how her hips lolled in time to the rhythm to the title cut and how her skirt came sliding off by the eruptive hit of the first chorus, I'd discovered some naughty little secrets about her, and happily, she was willing to share them all with me.  As she began introducing me to foreplay techniques for men and women, I then got why she was a big Idol fan.  Had I been more experienced at the time, I could've seen us going right at it full frontal during "Rebel Yell," as I'm positive more than a handful of folks back in the day did.  It carries the perfect sex hum, much as "Blue Highway" does and (assuming you make it that far in the album), "(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows." 

Most of what happened between us that night I'll leave between us.  I will say I cannot listen to the first half of Rebel Yell without reliving that super-groovy moment and by the time I was built up to a near-climax without having yet crossed the final frontier, I couldn't flip the record over fast enough to get "Flesh For Fantasy" on.   I knew my partner enough at that point to know she'd wanted to save that song for the moment.

Within the first few slinky bars of "Flesh For Fantasy," she coached and coaxed me into her with a soothing voice and boiling reception.  I'd like to say I was a sex god from the get-go, but I'd be a goddamn liar.  In fact, I call out my entire gender of liars who claim they lasted up to ten minutes on their first go-round.  Bullshit.  You can bop your baloney for a week straight before losing your virginity and you're still going to spill within a minute, two at best if you're graced by the invisible touch of Eros.

I didn't quite make it all the way to Stevens' electric splooge and thank God we were both using contraception.  Frankly, I was as frightened as I was elated to be having intercourse and then I was immediately embarassed since I might've reached the minute mark and not much longer.  My partner, kind soul that she was, kissed my nose, then my lips and she hugged me tight.  She congratulated me and told me not to worry, that her previous lover had done exactly the same.  We fell asleep for an hour after the needle lifted off the closing track of Rebel Yell, "The Dead Next Door."  In its own weird way, that track served as a synthesized lullaby.  We woke up naked and with no music on, we tried it again.  I made it a fiver that time and felt like I'd truly graduated.

I only dated this girl for three months but in the time we shared, we humped like mad dogs and I thank her with everything I have deep inside me that she was the inherently sweet girl she was.  We played AC/DC, Scorpions and Kix a lot while we made love, yet  one day we decided we weren't meant for one another since our values and thought processes differed drastically.  We shared a beautiful Christmas together, at least.  We made love for the last time in her bed and with no parents home on New Year's Eve.  We rang it in with you know who.  I'd lasted the entire duration of Rebel Yell since we'd come to know one another so well carnally in so short a time. 

When we broke up, she was already initiating contact with another guy, but she gave me the decency of telling me she wanted loose to pursue him.  We kissed one another goodbye and sure, there was a little bit of tenseness thereafter since we'd haunted many parties together and I'd been on a straight edge kick at the time.  We'd become infamous for socializing long enough for her to down a few shots while I pulled on a soda, then ducking into the first empty bedroom we could find.  I still run into a few of those folks we knew and nobody brings up the past.  There's no need to, albeit it's nutty to think I gave her such a hard time for her partying ways since I've long abandoned straight edge. 

She moved on and so did I.  There was no real animosity between us, only awkwardness.  Since I was waiting tables, I put the gentle moves on nearly every girl that came aboard.  Some were receptive, some were not, but I was always a gentleman about it and those were good times.  Damn good times, as David Lee Roth would say.  I later met my wife in the same restaurant, so there you go.  Funny enough, the first album my future wife and I had sex to was the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik.  No further commentary needed.

When I think about Billy Idol today, 100 punks rule in my mind, even though I'm sadly finding you have to be a diehard punker out there to know the Generation X material.  I think of a hot and wonderful moment in my life that Idol sang over.  Interesting that one of his biggest, most sensuous hits is derived from an old horror flick, but it does remain one of my favorite of Billy Idol's songs for obvious reasons.  Les yeux san visage, Miss T...

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