I'm Eighteen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

"I'm Eighteen"
Single by Alice Cooper
from the album Love It to Death
B-side"Body" ("Is It My Body?")
ReleasedNovember 1970
Format7"
Recorded1970
GenreHard rock, heavy metal, protopunk
Length3:00
Writer(s)Alice Cooper, Michael Bruce, Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith
Producer(s)Bob Ezrin
Alice Cooper singles chronology
"Shoe Salesman"
(1970)
"I'm Eighteen"
(1970)
"Caught in a Dream"
(1971)
Audio sample
Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.
You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
file info · help
 
Jump to: navigation, search
"I'm Eighteen"
Single by Alice Cooper
from the album Love It to Death
B-side"Body" ("Is It My Body?")
ReleasedNovember 1970
Format7"
Recorded1970
GenreHard rock, heavy metal, protopunk
Length3:00
Writer(s)Alice Cooper, Michael Bruce, Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith
Producer(s)Bob Ezrin
Alice Cooper singles chronology
"Shoe Salesman"
(1970)
"I'm Eighteen"
(1970)
"Caught in a Dream"
(1971)
Audio sample
Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.
You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
file info · help

"I'm Eighteen" is a 1970 song by rock band Alice Cooper, featured on their first major label release album Love It to Death. The single, called just "Eighteen", was released in November 1970, three months prior to the album. Even though Warner Bros. Records "considered it a fluke,"[1] it became the band's breakthrough hit, peaking at #21 on the Billboard pop chart in 1971, the year when being 18 years of age was much in the news as the voting age in the United States was lowered to 18 by passage of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Description[edit]

A dark, aggressive song whose lumbering, distorted main guitar riff is in E minor, "I'm Eighteen" was the band's first hit. In raspy vocals against arpeggiated guitar backing, the lyrics speak of the existential anguish of being at the cusp of adulthood, decrying in each verse being "in the middle"—"of life" or "of doubt". The chorus switches to a series of crashing power chords building from A, the vocals proclaiming: "I'm eighteen / And I don't know what I want ... I gotta get out of this place / I'll go runnin' in outer space". The song turns around at the conclusion with an embrace of those things that had been such anguish: "I'm eighteen and I like it!"[2]

Production and release[edit]

The Alice Cooper band and Bob Ezrin did pre-production for the album in Pontiac, Michigan in November and December 1970. Ezrin, with his classical and folk background, attempted to have the band tighten its loosely-structured songs. The band resisted at first, but came to see things Ezrin's way, and ten to twelve hours a day of rehearsal resulted in a tight set of hard-rocking songs with little of the psychedelic freak-rock aesthetic of the first to albums. According to Cooper, Ezrin "ironed the songs out note by note, giving them coloring, personality".[3] "I'm Eighteen" was a sixteen-track recording at 15 IPS.[4]

Zappa had sold Straight Records to Warner Bros. in 1970 for $50,000.[5] That November[6] the group released a single of "I'm Eighteen" backed with "Is It My Body", and Warner Bros. agreed that if it sold well the group could go forward with an album. The band posed as fans and made hundreds of calls to radio stations to request the song, and Gordon is said to have paid others a dollar per radio request. Soon the song was on the airwaves across the country—even on mainstream AM radio—and peaked at number 21 on the charts.[7] In Canada it broke the top ten, peaking at number 7.[8] The success convinced Warner to allow the band to go ahead with Love It to Death,[9] released February 1971.[citation needed] The band's next single was "Caught in a Dream" backed with "Hallowed Be My Name" in May 1971.[10]

The band played "I'm Eighteen" live on the German television show Beat-Club in 1972. Cooper appeared on the floor in a Wonder Woman t-shirt gripping a whiskey bottle. During an extended intro, Cooper declares "I ain't twenty-one", then "twenty-two" and on until "twenty-five" before the band delivers an aggressive, heavily distorted performance of the song.[11]

Achievements[edit]

Rolling Stone included the song on its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" at #482[12] and had this to say of the song, "Before 'I'm Eighteen,' Cooper was just another hairy rock oddball. But this proto-punk smash defined the age when, in Cooper's words, you're 'old enough to be drafted but not old enough to vote.' Years later, Johnny Rotten sang this at his audition for the Sex Pistols; by then, Cooper was a guest on The Muppet Show."[13]

It was selected by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The song ranked #39 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs and appeared on Guitar magazine as one of the 50 heaviest riffs of all time.

The song "Dreamin'" on the 1998 Kiss album Psycho Circus bears such a resemblance to "I'm Eighteen" that a month after the album's release Cooper's publisher filed a plagiarism suit, settled out of court in Cooper's favor.[14]

Legacy[edit]

Black-and-white photo of a spiky-haired youth singing into a microphone
Legend has it John Lydon auditioned for the Sex Pistols by miming to "I'm Eighteen".

Vocalist Joey Ramone based the first song by New York punk band the Ramones, "I Don't Care", on the chords of the main riff to "I'm Eighteen".[15] John Lydon wrote the song "Seventeen" on the Sex Pistols album Never Mind the Bollocks in response to "I'm Eighteen",[16] and is said to have auditioned for the Sex Pistols by miming to an Alice Cooper song—most frequently reported as "I'm Eighteen".[17]

The song was covered by thrash metal pioneers Anthrax, on their 1984 album Fistful of Metal (the day their youngest member, bassist Danny Lilker, turned 19) and was later covered by post-grunge band Creed on the soundtrack to the 1998 movie The Faculty, and also by Zwan on tour.

The song was also covered by Camp Freddy with Slash of Guns and Roses on guitar and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park on vocals.

Don Dokken, John Norum, Bob Kulick, Tim Bogert, Gregg Bissonette and David Glen Eisley performed the song – under the title 'Eighteen' – on the tribute album Humanary Stew: A Tribute To Alice Cooper.

The song featured as a 'b-side' track on the Big Country CD single "You Dreamer" in 1995.[18]

It was used in an episode of the 1999 TV show Freaks and Geeks, when Guidance Counsellor Mr. Rosso (Dave "Gruber" Allen) played an acoustic cover of the song to show the kids he knew what they were going through. The song is featured in Bill Couturié's 1987 documentary Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. At the end of the Sons Of Anarchy episode "Giving Back", a cover version by Scott Shriner & the Forest Rangers is played.

References[edit]

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]