Rockbrat Wonders:Just How Many Backs Against The Wall Are There In Rock ‘n’ Roll?

"When My Backs Against The Wall I Hope My Wig Don't Fall - OH YEAH!"

Sometimes I cringe when I hear a certain tune, Like when the radio announcer (cos that’s all they are these days) tells me the story about ‘You’re So Vain’ being written about Warren Beatty. Argh! If you are 20 years of age listening to the radio, you wouldn’t even know who the hell Beatty is, nor should you. I get the same cringe factor when I hear ANY song using the ‘Backs Against The Wall’ lyric, (with the exception of the Divinyls tunem or the great Ballbusters tune, Back Where We Started).  It just reeks of unoriginality and is evidence of a band that is idealess in the song writing department. Did Zimmerman or McCartney ever use the lyrics ? Prove me wrong, but I strongly doubt it. In the world of heavy rock, many songwriters with ‘writers block’ often went for the tried and true cliché of “backs against the wall”. And why not? The idea of being “up against it”, was always gonna appeal to the Twisted Sister or Quiet Riot lovin’ kids in the suburbs, and the definition of “it” could easily switch to mean anti establishment, school, teacher, parent, society etc. No songwriter used the lyrical cliché quite like our favourite wig wearer and currency king that be Gene $immons. In the mid 80’s, with Gene bereft of musical ideas, he often retorted to his book of lyrical clichés which would then end up in song. Here’s an example, “Well goodness sakes my snakes alive and it’s ready to bite”. Dylan eat your heart out. 1980’s KI$$ are a fine example of lyrical cliché, especially in the use of the ‘backs against the wall’ lyric. From memory, the Gene penned ‘Domino’ has the line, ‘Loves lots of money, backs against the wall, calls me sugar daddy’ – etc, yawn, etc, yawn. The Eric Carr tune, ‘Little Caesar’ also had a line with ’10 000 people in the city, 10 000 backs against the wall’. 10 000 ! That’s right – count em. Must have been the Berlin Wall or the Great Wall Of Choina. On the tune ‘My Way’, Paul Stanley sung, “Oh the heat is on, and my backs against the wall”. I was so disappointed when I first heard that tune – assuming it was a Frank cover. We all would have liked to have heard the Starchild doing his best Sinatra. Here’s another of Gene’s off the ‘Ki$$ Killers’ album. “You put my back against the wall, so you’re a saint, I’m a sinner, but deuces are wild” etc. The imaginatively titled ‘Saint and Sinner’. There must be stacks of other KI$$ tunes I’ve omitted, do you know any? Yet it was not just Gene and his face painted charlatans who used the ‘Back against The Wall’ theme. Speed metal sauerkraut eaters Helloween had a tune called ‘Backs Against The Wall’, as did the great Divinyls, who are so great, that when they used the line it didn’t sounds passé. Speaking of Germans, the tiny Teuton with the big voice UDO also had a tune called, ‘Backs Against The Wall’. Would have made a good split single with ‘Balls To The Wall’. Must be a thing with Germans and the wall – ahem.  No surprises that punk cut-outs Rancid had a tune about Backs Against The Wall, as did LA’s great Circle Jerks, and also the Stiff Little Fingers, but I want to keep this post primarily in the realm of metal. Biff and the boys in Saxon were not to be outdone with ‘Never Surrender’. Anyways, there surely must be a stack of others I’ve forgotten. Can you name them?

6 thoughts on “Rockbrat Wonders:Just How Many Backs Against The Wall Are There In Rock ‘n’ Roll?

  1. When I was 20 I knew all my parents’ favourite movie stars, musicians, singers, songs. Of course back then my pre-teen years had coincided with an era when there was no rock-oriented radio or TV in Britain and films could only be shown on TV several years after their general release so there was a cultural reason for my getting my parents’ choices into my brain. But – Hey! – there’s no reason why a 20-year-old shouldn’t know who Warren Beatty is. 20-year-olds can be on Google in a flash, just like I am when someone mentions a modern muso or actor I’ve never heard of. All they have to do is pop a name into YouTube and they can see the man acting…

    Hold on a minute… I’m ranting… this won’t do…

    I popped on here just to say I found your forum post of a year ago about ‘Freshly Pressed’. Have you made it yet?

    Kind regards fro Scotland

    Marie Marshall

  2. It would appear that the egyptian warrior, Vinnie Cusano picked up a thing or two from his beefy bass playing boss, because he to had some backs against the wall in his VVI Boyz Are Gonna Rock tune. BTW Saint And Sinner is off Creatures …Maaa get out !

  3. Saxon didn’t only mention ye olde backs against the wall in “Never Surrender”, they also had a song on their debut album entitled “Backs to the Wall”. Guess you don’t have to keep on looking over your shoulder when you’re in that position……….

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