Almost 26 years ago, on March 19, 1990, Depeche Mode released one of their most successful albums, Violator.
Once I had that album in my hot little hands, it took no time at all to know all the words to every song on my Violator cassette tape. Over the years I bought 3 cassettes, 4 CDs and 1 digital copy of that album – cassettes eventually warped, CDs got borrowed out and never returned, so I finally opted for an iTunes download of Violator. That’s dedication.
Their most popular single off that album, of course, is the often played, Personal Jesus. The song was released as a precursor to Violator, making Depeche Mode fans hungry for more.
Personal Jesus was an instant hit and has played millions of times on mainstream radio stations; hard rock icon, Marilyn Manson, as well as country legend, Johnny Cash, both had cover versions of this Depeche Mode treasure. The song is timeless and solidified Depeche Mode in the minds of music lovers world-wide.
There was one unfortunate side effect of becoming a popular tune in the early 1990’s – line dancing. This dance style was (unfortunately) popular and someone developed a line dance to Personal Jesus.
I don’t know about some of you hardcore alternative music fans, but one of “our” bands going mainstream like that used to piss me off. There was nothing worse than having a preppy fluff chick squeal with glee when they heard the opening chords of Personal Jesus, as they run out to the dance floor with their girls and start line dancing.
Of course, being the anarchic punk chick I was (and still am), I would also hit the dance floor and dance right through their stupid line dance in protest to this conformist dance style.
My best friend at the time and I would attend this rock music club where local cover bands we knew played – we were regular fixtures there and everyone knew us. In between band sets, the DJ would play rock and popular dance tunes, and that included Personal Jesus.
A friend of mine through the punk scene was at the club one night and as we were catching up on each other’s lives, Personal Jesus started playing. She jumped up and motioned for me to hit the dance floor with her. I thought, finally, I’ll have another fellow punk to dance with and disrupt the line dancers! It was then I realized my punk friend was lined up with the fluff chicks, performing the conformist dance.
I stood there in astonishment. This can’t be happening! She looked at me funny, but I kept doing my own thing.
When we got back to the table, she said, “I can teach you the line dance so you don’t look all weird out there dancing alone.” When I told her I had no desire to learn that conformist piece of crap dance, she said, “I guess you’re not a real fan of Depeche Mode, then if you’re not going to learn the dance and do it right!”
Punk rock is all about following your bliss, doing your own thing and being free.
She was free to do the conformist line dance, just as I was free to dance all wild alone on the dance floor, standing out in the crowd. How dare she say I wasn’t a fan just because I wouldn’t conform. It’s not like Depeche Mode created the stupid line dance, in fact, I’m sure they cringed thinking someone did that to one of their songs!
I don’t know what I was more upset over: that there was a line dance to Personal Jesus or that my punk friend was now someone who cared what others thought and a conformist!
I’m still in conflict…