You think you know Dee Snider. Admit it. You think you know all about Twisted Sister too. You really don’t. Not unless you’ve read Dee Snider’s autobiography Shut up and Give Me the Mic. I’ve read, baby, so I do know. and honestly, the story is one I’ve been wanting to hear since I first discovered Twisted Sister.
I’ve always liked Dee. I was never a Dee Snider fanatic, or a fanatical Twisted Sister fan, but I did like them enough to buy all of their releases, not once, but on every new medium that became available (records, cassettes, CDs). Chalk that up to my obsessive need to own all my favorite music in the “latest” format, not as a fanatical reaction to Twisted Sister.
The point is, I listened to Twisted Sister, and I’ve always been impressed with the band, and in particular, Dee Snider. I know Twisted Sister is a band, but to me, wrong or right, Dee is Twisted Sister. Try to imagine the band without him. It’s not happening.
I recently bought Dee Snider’s autobiography Shut up and Give Me the Mic. Could there be a better title for an autobiography by Dee Snider? I doubt it. Now, it’s always been clear to me that Dee is an intelligent individual. If you witnessed the PMRC senate hearings, as I did, you already knew this. That said, I knew the book would be readable. What I didn’t expect was the blazing honesty that oozes from the pages. I expected Dee to be what you expect Dee to be, a self-centered front man who believes he is the final word on everything that is anything. Guess what? You get some of that. You also get a lot more. That’s why I say the book is everything you expect from Dee Snider and some you don’t.
Dee tells you at the start of the book that he took control of Twisted Sister and that he would take credit for the successes, but he would also claim any failures. He does that with grace and dignity. Even when the blame can be placed elsewhere, Dee accepts his share of the blame for not being more aware. Also, while he doesn’t have a problem pointing out the shortcomings of others, he has no problem pointing out his own shortcomings. You’re not going to read a glossed over story. It’s all here, balls to the wall.
What I love most about this book is that it’s equally interesting to fans of the band and to songwriters and musicians. As a songwriter and musician myself, I was thrilled to get some insight into Dee Snider’s writing process and hear about the recording process of the Twisted Sister albums. If you aren’t into that stuff and just want to know about the comings and goings of Dee Snider and the band, you get all that too. It’s a well rounded read that answers all the questions you might have, and answers them beautifully, about Dee and Twisted Sister.
For me, one of those questions has always been, “Dee, why the hell do you hate the Love is for Suckers album?” I bought that album when it came out and jammed it constantly. I loved it. I still love it. It’s on regular rotation on my iPod. Listen to Hot Love and tell me why that fucking thing wasn’t a huge hit. I’d always heard rumors that Dee hated the album. Not true. Yeah, it was supposed to be a solo album, so that pissed him off a bit, but as far as I can tell (and I’ve gotten a tweet backing this up), Dee stands by the album.
Dee Snider is a hero of free speech (again, I refer you to the senate hearings involving the PMRC, which you can find on Youtube). He has written some great metal anthems, fronted a band that, like it or not, is an iconic part of music history, and has led a life both blessed and cursed. In the end, he chooses to celebrate the blessed part. His songs, and his personal attitude, promote strength and positive self-esteem.
There is a lesson to be learned from Dee Snider. That lesson is simple. Be proud of who you are and stand up for what you believe in. By doing so, you can never fucking fail, even when you stumble and fall. You only lose when you refuse to get up again. Dee Snider, love ya, man. Thanks for the music, and thanks for a book that lays it on the line.
Grab a copy of Shut up and Give Me the Mic. You won’t be disappointed.
Dee Snider on Twitter: @deesnider
Dee Snider on Facebook
Now shut up and give Dee the mic.