Don’t Fear the Song
Milford is about twenty minutes north of us and every year they have their Oyster Festival. In addition to oysters by the ton, there’s a load of other attractions. Headlining the music this year is the Blue Oyster Cult, veteran heavy metal band from the 1970s.
The BOC put on a great live show in the ’70s, was one of the first bands to use lasers as part of the showmanship, had some great guitar riffs and solid songs. Why didn’t they ever break out? I gather it had a lot to do with never cracking the Top 40 in New York City. Back then, Top 40 airplay drove record sales much more than it does today. When they’re biggest hit, “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” was reaching the charts, AM powerhouse stations WNBC and WABC in NYC never played it.
The song, though, has become a standard on classic rock stations, usually alternating with “Burning for You” and “Godzilla” when they want their BOC quota for the week. Too bad, there’s plenty of other greats to choose from.
(OK, I’m prejudiced. Their lead singer, Eric Bloom, is my uncle. I grew up with the band’s music and shows.)
“Don’t Fear the Reaper” was a hit circa 1976. It’s been 28 years. Still, religious leaders in Milford have complained to the press that they feel the song glorifies suicide and the music (and by extension the band) is inappropriate for a family event.
In Wednesday’s Connecticut Post, the Reverend Joe Mixie opined, “I don’t think the band is representative of the Milford Community.” A “moral activist” named Tom Huebner said, “It is a shock factor. It sells. Suicide is never a good option. It is a sin.” Where was he when the theme to M*A*S*H gained popularity?
What I find interesting is the fact that the article does not take into account the 28 year old vintage of the music or the 30+ year vintage of the band. The song has never been blamed for someone taking their life. The band has rarely been at a concert where their anctics have caused local police problems (they have played too many multi-act all-day venues for me to absolve them of all such actions).
I remain amazed that people are making such a big deal out of one song, that is open to interpretation, and are ready to condemn the band without considering their current image. After all, the BOC members are mostly over, gasp, 50. They have wives and kids and unlike Ozzy Osborne, have never bitten the heads off chickens while performing.
I also suspect we have much larger things to worry about these days. November 2, for example.