Back in my high school days in the 1980s, despite my mullet I listened to a variety of music. My hairstyle just happened to fit one of those types–cranked out by what many call “black t-shirt” bands. A friend of my brother once called it “that long-haired shit.”
A friend who was into the modern rock, or alternative, music scene invited me to co-deejay a junior high dance. He played mostly club-inspired tunes by Depeche Mode, The Cure, and similar bands, while I threw in the occasional popular Prince song from my collection.
He lamented that so many boys were in wallflower mode, watching the girls do all the dancing. I knew that was my chance to pull my ace card from my heavy metal hand. It got more boys out on the dancefloor than anything else, even though they had never heard it before. I’m sure everyone can guess why.
It was an instrumental ballad by a heavy metal guitar virtuoso. A self-aggrandizing solo at its heart, it featured classical acoustic and electric guitars on blazing arpeggios and enough bent strings to give it real feeling. A simple bass line anchored it while cheesy, gothic keyboard chords wandered over the top.
The couples did that one dance all the boys knew, the sway to the left on one, right on two, and so on. If feeling particularly amorous, they might go left on one, hold it there a beat, and then go right on three.
When the song ended, Robert Smith started meowing “Love Cats,” and the couples split to return to their unofficially appointed places.
A boy broke his stride and approached the deejay table. He leaned in as if to speak. I leaned in to listen.
“Hey, what song was that?” he shouted.
I smiled and gave my co-deejay a knowing look. “‘Crying,’ by Yngwie Malmsteen,” I yelled back.
“Yngwie.” I shouted more clearly. “Y-n-g-w-i-e. Malmsteen.”
“Loved that song. Thanks!” he said and returned to his spot near the wall.
That night, I had done my job, and enjoyed that rare moment when someone else shows a similar level of enthusiasm for a song I typically enjoyed alone in my room or my car.
I hoped that the boy’s parents wouldn’t mind the album cover, which featured Yngwie using his Stratocaster to ward off flames from a fire-breathing, three-headed dragon. It doesn’t get much more ’80s metal than that.