James Leon resides in an undisclosed desert sanctuary with a beautiful significant other and their tribe of furry kids. He writes screenplays...read more & essays, in addition to shooting his own films. His first feature, Dropping Like Flies, is due in 2017. Currently editing 3 books and working on a 4th.
1982, the Lords of the New Church released their first album, with the single “Open Your Eyes”. The band members had been in previous pioneer punk bands, such as the Dead Boys, the Damned, Sham 69, and the Barracudas, hailing from both America and Europe. The lead singer, guitarist and main song writer, Stiv Bators (aka Steven Bator), had fronted several bands from the mid-1970s, but the Lords of the New Church would be his most commercially successful group and they would only release three full length albums in the 1980s with very few hit singles. He, along with his bandmate Brion James, would write a good bulk of their material.
One of their most popular songs was “Open Your Eyes”, from their debut self-titled album, The Lords of the New Church. The opening synthesizer keyboards are a soft up-tempo, yet eerie and layered in synch with an urgent, racing, persistent drumbeat that invokes a sense of warning, mixed with an underscore of guitar and bass chords which serve as the ticking of a time-bomb. A few seconds in, the first verse begins with the whispered, deadpan vocals from Bators. He observes how videogames are tools used to train young soldiers before they are sent off to fight a war. Meanwhile, high-end fashion stores promote and profit from trendy military clothing and apparel. martial law has been declared and prisons are over-crowded, but not with the wealthy criminals, like the ones who operate banks.
Although a dated element is the reference towards assassination being involved with politics, but it has been notably a part of the past. Nowadays they have drones to carry out such missions, rather than relying on the unpredictability of patsies or a lone wolf. Regardless, the masses of America have not lost their obsession with violence, remaining ignorant to the dominating forces of distraction and deception. News stories are selected by propagandists, which in 1982 was primarily the television, but now there are other screens from which to repeatedly absorb misinformation. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the impending doom of a nuclear holocaust, the attitude of a few world leaders and religious terrorists seems to be of great anticipation, like it was a film production or a real-life reality television show.
The chorus comes in, but it is only eight words, three of them being the title of the song, repeated several times, pointing out how plainly obvious these are lies are. It is simply a desperate plea for everyone to be aware of how they are being manipulated by a vicious circle of lies to which they are blind. Ignorance should not be considered blissful when it involves the lives of millions and the corruption from the global elite and wealthy megalomaniacs who are willing to gamble it all away. As the song continues, musical elements have pulled together to create an albatross of clarity within the chaos. It is Rock and Roll, while being both Punk and Goth, with influences of Reggae and Jazz, yet remaining credible and prolific.
Video games train the kids for war. Army chic in high-fashion
Stores. Law and order's done their job. Prisons filled while
The rich still rob. Assassination politics. Violence rules
Within' our nation's midst. Well ignorance is their power tool.
You'll only know what they want you to know. The television
Cannot lie. Controlling media with smokescreen eyes. Nuclear
Politicians picture show. The acting's lousy but the blind don't
Know. They scare us all with threats of war. So we forget
Just how bad things are. You taste the fear when you're all
Alone. They gonna git'cha when you're on your own. The silence
Of conspiracy. Slaughtered on the altar of apathy. You gotta
Wake up from your sleep. 'Cause meek inherits earth...six feet
Open your eyes see the lies right in front of ya.
Open your eyes.....
When the second verse is delivered, Stiv’s shout becomes louder, like the bombs that drop during ceaseless wars. However, he understands that many of these threats are often just to distract the sheep from undetected wolves. Those who are alone and are consumed with a bevy of fears and paranoias regarding the outside world, they generally pose no threat of revolt. Bators reverts into a low cautionary voice, perhaps to draw the listeners in closer to hear the message. Many people are asleep and in dire need of waking up from a living nightmare. With a paraphrased biblical quote, he chillingly delivers a reminder about what the meek usually inherit: a plot of Earth in the cemetery.
Each chorus is delivered with a consistent, repetitious voice and the musical elements to drill the song’s meaning into any pairs of ears should open the eyes that have shut for too long. The instrumentation conjures up a morass of madness that mirrors the problems of American society, climbing to high peak with each guitar chord and undercurrent of a funky bass lines. A saxophone solo and other horns incorporate sleaze and grime to affect those within its sound waves, especially when dancing. Avoiding the usual the three verses of standard radio-friendly songs, the message of “Open Your Eyes” has only two, but three choruses. The content of the whole song is an alarm that should ring loud and clear in massive volumes as a warning to be more observant about the lies that plague the population.
Although no solutions are mentioned or suggested, the message in “Open Your Eyes” is a timeless wake-up call. Stiv Bators, who was a product of the 1960s, incorporated the protest song with catchy hooks and a danceable beat for the early 1980s. He had lived through the draft, the Vietnam War and Watergate, providing a relevant observation where culture was then. At the time of his death in 1990, the Cold War had ended, but in recent years seems to have warmed up again. Disinformation and propaganda are now known as “Fake News” and corporate owners perpetuate the lies to keep the masses asleep. The best hope for humanity is to wake and arise with wide eyes open and see the lies that dominate the world and seek out options to break the cycles of mental and physical imprisonment.