“We are Forerunners. Guardians of all that exists. The roots of the Galaxy have grown deep under our careful tending. Where there is life, the wisdom of our countless generations has saturated the soil. Our strength is a luminous sun, towards which all intelligence blossoms… And the impervious shelter, beneath which it has prospered.”

The dyslexic voice of Dog

by | Aug 7, 2021 | The Agoge | 2 comments

That moniker is actually something that Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of THE GREATEST F***ING BAND OF ALL TIME, aka IRON MAIDEN, once put in the liner notes of his supremely awesome solo album, The Chemical Wedding, to describe his old friend, Arthur Brown. That was the guy who provided the voice-overs on a few of the tracks, like “The Book of Thel”, “Jerusalem”, and “The Alchemist”. (All of which are absolutely incredible, by the way – that really is one of the best albums ever recorded.)

The reason I bring up Bruce Dickinson today, though, is because of an interview that he did recently with Alex Ferrari for his Next Level Soul podcast, alongside Sacha Gervasi. (Metalheads may remember him from the infamous Anvil: The Story of Anvil documentary.)

If you’ve ever wondered what a true polymath looks like, then you need to listen to this interview all the way through, because only then will you BEGIN to comprehend the sheer balls-out level of awesomeness personified that is Bruce Dickinson:

Fencer. Pilot. Entrepreneur. Beer brewer. Published author. Screenplay writer. Film producer. Legendary songwriter. Motivational speaker. Father of three – including two musicians. Greatest lead singer of the greatest band ever to walk the face of the Earth. The list of the man’s accomplishments is longer than my freakin’ arm. And all of that barely scratches the surface of everything that he has accomplished in his incredible life.

By the way, if you have not read his book, What Does This Button Do? – I cannot overstate or exaggerate what a great book it is. In fact, I liked it so much that i reviewed it and made it my non-fiction book of the year for 2017. Check it out. The man isn’t just a great songwriter – he’s simply a brilliant storyteller in every way.

The reason why the Air Raid Siren has accomplished so much in his life is because he has an almost childlike sense of curiosity – and, crucially, he is not afraid to FAIL.

This is an attitude that we ALL need to absorb and exhibit in our daily lives. Bruce thrives on pushing himself out of his comfort zone. That is why he has grown and changed so much over the past 40 years of his adult life, and that is why he is a true modern polymath.

There are very few men like him. He is in many ways among the last of a dying breed of musicians and entrepreneurs willing to take massive risks, within the realm of safety and feasibility, simply in order to try something new. He understands intimately the fact that he got to where he is because of that willingness to take risks, and he has not forgotten the people who put him there.

Here are the lessons that we can, and must, draw from the life of the living legend that is Bruce Dickinson.

1. Fail Faster

"I Have Not Failed. I Have Just Found 10,000 Things That ...

The origins of that quote are unknown and uncertain. Thomas Edison was not the inventor that most people today think he was – in fact, he was a rip-off artist and scammer of the first order. His Direct Current method of electricity transmission was far inferior to Nikolai Tesla’s Alternating Current, which, of course, is why most of our plug-points these days are A/C and not D/C.

Apropos of not terribly much – it just seemed to be an appropriate reference given the subject matter. And it’s an awesome song.

No matter how big a bullshit artist Edison was, though, the core of that (probably apocryphal) quote remains true and correct.

Failure, per se, is NOT a bad thing. This may sound trite, but the reality is that most men never figure this out. It is especially difficult for Asian men to figure it out, because Asian culture places such a hefty premium on “face” and accomplishment. (Every single Asian religion is one of works, and that reflects in their national characters very clearly.) Failure simply means that you didn’t do something right, or you weren’t ready to execute on a particular task, or you just were not the right choice for the job.

There is nothing wrong or dishonourable about failure in and of itself. It just is what it is.

Failure is normal and forgivable. If you screw up, then confront your mistakes like an adult, take your lumps like a man, and move on.

Refusing to learn from your failures, however, is ABSOLUTELY UNFORGIVABLE.

If you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, the consequences of your stupidity will continue to magnify and amplify, and you will end up doing something so monumentally stupid that you will never recover.

Bruce avoided this by continually trying to learn from his screw-ups. Whenever he messed up, he evaluated what went wrong, figured out how to fix the issue, and went back to the drawing board.

Which, of course, is why he has succeeded in so many different areas.

2. Embrace Discomfort

Spartan Training: Crafting Warriors Of Legend

Here’s a question for the history buffs (of which Bruce is definitely one):

Why were the Spartans long considered the greatest warriors in all of Greece?

Some of that reputation was assuredly overblown. In their later years, the Spartans became tactically dogmatic and rigid, and were unable to adapt to changes in warfare, such as joint infantry-cavalry tactics, introduced by Philip II and Alexander the Great of Macedon. They also stopped producing enough actual citizens to maintain their empire and increasingly relied on auxiliaries to do their fighting, rather than the core heavy infantry shock troops made up of Spartiates that proved so formidable against the Persians and, later, the Athenians and others.

But, for the better part of two centuries, the Spartans were considered to be the premier hoplite warriors in all of Greece, and the best army of the entire ancient world.

Why?

Because of their brutal, indeed vicious, training methods. Their entire way of training was one of intense discomfort. They took freezing cold showers in winter, forced their soldiers to go on long marches, and encouraged a certain ruthless streak among their troops. They also taught their warriors how to read, write, sing, dance, and speak in pithy phrases loaded with meaning – which is where we get the concept of “Laconic wit” today.

Simply put, they were the best because they embraced the suck.

Bruce does that exceptionally well. He doesn’t bitch and moan about it. He simply gets on with doing what he has to do in order to deliver value for those who depend on him, and he embraces the discomfort that comes with it as the price that he has to pay for doing good things.

3. Never Forget Those Who Helped You

I’ve been listening to IRON MAIDEN for, no joke, over 20 years. (Bloody hell, I feel old now…) I have seen the band perform live no less than 7 times. And EVERY SINGLE TIME, they kicked my ass with their energy, power, and sheer musicianship.

But most of all, and most importantly, they love their fans. They know that that they enjoy amazing lives because of the men (and women) who buy the tickets and the merchandise and albums. And they never forget that fact.

Bruce and the rest of the band will stand with the fans for hours to sign autographs and show respect and love to those who put them where they are. They do it because they have never forgotten their roots.

Now, there is more to the story than just this. An old friend of mine actually went on tour with the band a few times to observe them and attend their concerts, and he told me a while back that IRON MAIDEN consists of, essentially, 6 multi-millionaires in their late fifties. That means that they will, indeed, do lots of stuff for their fans and will spend lots of time making them happy – but at a certain point, they will retreat into their bubble to rest and recover.

There is nothing wrong with this. When you’re old and crotchety – like me – then you NEED time to yourself. This is not negotiable. Beyond a certain age – and it’s a lot lower than most people think when they are in their twenties – even the biggest and most popular rock star in the world will seek comfort and solace away from the screaming crowds and the lights and the cameras.

This is why the individual members of the band relax in different ways. Bruce flies aeroplanes, ‘Arry plays football and tennis, H goes fishing, Davey spends time with his wife in Maui, Janick marches out for 20-mile struts to hit all the Irish pubs, and Nicko goes to church and golfs.

But, when the hard business of touring comes around, none of these men ever forget those who put them in a position to do those wonderful things.

That is why we fans love them so much – because they love us and make us happy every single time they hit the stage. There are no rock-star antics or games with them. They simply get on stage right after UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” stops playing, and proceed to lay waste to everything around them for about two hours.

You can see the results in the way that people perceive the band. IRON MAIDEN regularly tops polls for the most respected heavy metal band in the world. There are plenty of metal fans who will argue about whether JUDAS PRIEST is better than BLACK SABBATH (short answer: yes), or whether death metal is better than black metal (also yes), or whether power metal is kind of gay (yes and no), or whether real innovation in metal is dead today (nope).

But one thing that virtually EVERY metal fan agrees upon, regardless of personal preference, is that IRON MAIDEN are easily the most respectable and honourable band out there.

That kind of reputation doesn’t happen by itself. It takes years of hard work and effort to achieve. And it rests entirely upon the goodwill of the people who love the music and respect the artists who make it – the fans.

Never forget those who helped you along the way to your goals – because if you do, you will quickly find yourself without allies and friends when the harsh times inevitably come.

Conclusion – Respect and Honour

I have long argued that honourable men are easy to destroy. This is true. You cannot afford to be naive about the nastiness of the world and all that is wrong with it. You must not blindside yourself into thinking that hard work alone will get you to the top – it won’t. You will need a considerable amount of luck along the way.

But, if you truly want to make a lasting impact in multiple areas, then you need to act with integrity. And if you can combine an honourable character with a certain political savvy, then you will go a very, very long way. You need to learn how to pick your battles, learn from your errors in judgement, and continuously strive to improve on what you do.

If you can embrace these lessons, you will have everything you need to make an impact in many different areas of human endeavour, just as Bruce Dickinson has done.

He is assuredly a unique talent in the world – and a unique voice. Astonishingly, his voice sounds roughly the same today as it did twenty years ago on IRON MAIDEN’s spectacular comeback album, Brave New World. Again, that is not an accident. The reason why his voice sounds better today than it did back in 1982 is because he has taken good care of his health, his body, and his mind. And, again, he has continually reinvented and changed himself to suit the different phases of his life.

Bruce has, by and large, lived his life honourably (with some exceptions), and has respected those who put him at the top of his field(s). And that is why he succeeds.

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2 Comments

  1. Matt FreeMatt

    I had someone mention that Bruce sounded “tired” in the last couple of albums.

    I had told that person that he was a workaholic cancer survivor in his fifties. He is very courteous to interviewers but that is what tires him out. It isnt fans or music. Travel for work? maybe.

    The guys in the band never stopped being thankful for their fans. Not many bands can say that. They put on a great show when I saw them.

    Reply
  2. jorgen b

    These devil bands are not good. Imagine listening to music by guys who enact the worship of the golden calf on stage, or who use a lightning bolt as a symbol to show their association with Satan because of how Jesus said he saw him fall like “lightning.” (Yes, that is why AC/DC chose the symbol; I realize lightning bolts can symbolize other things, but that is what THEY used it for). Repent of listening to such trash, and better yet, repent of giving them any money.

    Reply

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