I listen to music for all types of reasons. Whether I’m looking for inspiration, trying to get the party started, or in need of a serious escape to a fantasy land all my own — music takes me there.
Some music helps me escape me more easily than others. For me, it all boils down to creativity and an artist’s will to be weird, and if I had to pick one rocker that perfectly defines those qualities, it’s Alice Cooper.
Alice Cooper is a storyteller, and his second solo album, Goes to Hell, presents one of the craziest whirlwind of stories I’ve ever heard told through a series of songs. The flow of the album is reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno; an in-depth, almost poetic journey into the deep psyche of Alice Cooper. We get to know his demons, and although he alludes to them being dark and disturbing, they don’t come off that way. The songs are lighthearted and fun to listen too, even with their sometimes severe undertones.
I decided to get personal with this Vinyl Flashback by interviewing my foxy, rocker hairstylist friends Leisa and Stefanie, who happen to be HUGE Alice Cooper fans and supporters. Check out the video above to see them talk about their relationship with Alice, as well as the deep connection they have with his music.
Goes to Hell is the second solo album by Alice Cooper. Released in 1976, about two years after the original band broke up, this was the follow-up album to Welcome to My Nightmare. It was produced by Bob Ezrin, who still produces all of his work to this day — solo and with the Hollywood Vampires. Leisa and Stefanie made a point to say how cool it is that Alice has such tight, long-standing relationship with the people he has worked with over the years.
I love how the vinyl wrapping features the lyrics of each song. I’m a lyrics freak; constantly looking them up and trying to decipher their deeper meaning. Again, the story depicted through these songs is one of struggle. Leisa’s favorite song is Guilty, because Alice openly admits his flaws through the lyrics. I appreciate Alice Cooper’s honest nature, and I believe that is greatly appreciated by his fans who may have been dealing with similar issues.
Stefanie’s favorite song is You Gotta Dance, because it’s a disco number. Even though people during that time weren’t big on disco, but she said this one is really catchy and fun. The weirdest song off the album, the ladies and I agree, is Give the Kid a Break, which Leisa says sounds like it should be on the Grease sound track. It is very fifties sounding, and has a lot of banter in the background. It’s almost like he is battling with his good and evil mindset.
I only knew two songs off Goes to Hell before I listened to it in full: I Never Cry and Wish You Were Here. I first heard them when I was young, around 13 years old. I have no idea how I came across them, but somehow they landed on my radar and I remember listening to them all the time. My life as it is now revolves around my relationship with music. My job especially encourages me to constantly talk about my favorite bands and songs. Back then, however, that was something that was only for me. I never really told anyone about who or what I was listening to, and looking back, I find that to be unusual but also kind of special. Maybe subconsciously I knew that I’d talk about them one day. I guess that must not have been the right time in my life to do so.
Alice Cooper has been sober since 1986, and I think he really needed Goes to Hell to push him down the road of recovery. There is definitely something kind of sad about this album. His alcoholism was apparent in his life during the time it was recorded. All of his personalities come out in these songs, especially I’m the Coolest and Go to Hell. Maybe he needed to confront them head on and work through his issues musically. He really is living proof that you CAN rock and roll when you’re sober.
Goes to Hell is a true bedtime story. It’s raw and unique, and when compared to Alice Cooper’s other albums, it really pushes boundaries like no other. It takes you to that fantasy land and encourages you to lose yourself inside the world he creates — something we can all stand to do once in a while.