Always the most literate of the 1980s-era metal bands, British metal masters Iron Maiden often tapped historical events and the great works of literature for subject matter when writing songs. For their 1984 opus Powerslave, the band looked to 18th century poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic work “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and penned a 14-minute song of the same name. The song condenses the tale down, but hits on most of the high points of the story. Singer Bruce Dickinson sums it up best in his usual intro to the song when they perform it live: “This is what NOT to do if a bird shits on you.”
Check out Iron Maiden performing “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” live in concert here below.
When I was growing up in rural Indiana in the early ’80s, there was very limited access to heavy music. These were the days before MTV blew up with the whole hair metal, Headbangers Ball phenomenon. But on Sunday nights, there was a two-hour radio show that came from WOXY, just across the state line in Oxford, Ohio (home of Miami University of Ohio). It was called Massive Metal for the Masses and I would wait all week for it to air. It was through this show that I was introduced to bands like Venom, Bathory, WASP, Michael Schenker Group, Slayer, and countless others. This Monday weekly column is my tip of the hat to that show. I call it Massive Metal Monday. Every week, I will pay tribute to defining moments by the artists that laid the groundwork for heavy metal to become the worldwide cultural bond for all of us metal heads.