Morning Music: Blue Öyster Cult

Spectres - Blue Oyster CultFor reasons that will become clear this evening, I’ve had the Blue Öyster Cult song “Godzilla” going through my head. When I was younger, I didn’t like the band. This was largely because I had this friend who was very obnoxious in his fandom for the band. On reflection, I don’t necessarily think he really liked the band. But he saw that certain people he admired like them. There are worse reasons to like a band. Not that I can think any.

But I rediscovered them when I was about 30, and I was impressed. There was one thing that had changed in me: I now understood that heavy metal was the silliest music known to man — the only kind of music even in competition with it was Disco, and it is nice enough to make the joke crystal clear. With heavy metal, it is not clear. And that’s especially true when you are a teenager and all the people you know take it so serious.

My friend Will once noted to me that a huge number of heavy metal songs are about monsters. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of that. Now I know: because it’s silly. Okay, so Rush sings about Ayn Rand philosophy. Very few bands can be that silly. The more serious heavy metal appears to be, the more silly it is. And that is where Blue Öyster Cult stands out for not taking themselves too seriously, even while embracing the faux seriousness of the genre. (Although “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is an unforgivable sin.)

“Godzilla,” off their fifth album, Spectres, is perhaps the best example of explicit heavy metal silliness. It isn’t even a monster song; it’s really a film song. Is it as silly as Ayn Rand and the sign of the goat? Well, no. But it’ll do.

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