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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Eternal Flame. Massive Stupidity.

Anyone who grew up in the 80's could not have missed the another-school-week-collective-groan anthem "Manic Monday", one of the more popular hits by erstwhile "girl-group" Bangles. I stopped counting how many Mondays I have heard at least three people singing to that song back then - helped, of course, by radio airplay. And they also introduced the "Egyptian Dance" - to go with their massive hit "Walk Like An Egyptian" - even guys were doing the dance whenever that song came on.

(More trivia than you care to know: One of their earlier names was "The Bangs", but legal considerations forced them to drop the 'The' and add the '-les' at the end.)

Silly. Fun. Singable. Danceable. And as one Youtube commenter noted: "Back then, MTV still played real music, not the trashy reality shows we see today." (The) Bangles were part of - can I say this now - a mini-Renaissance of music, at least the ones in popular form. The hairstyles of the 80's were deplorable (tigilan na ang Aqua Net!), and the fashion tastes were largely suspect and self-indulgent (spandex, layering, shoulder pads to high heavens), but few decades can match the lyricism, the melodies, the mood and the je ne sais quoi of this particular decade's contribution to popular music.

(Photo courtesy of

A girl group that occasionally - if ever so lightly - tread over to the light rock genre, one particular song of theirs caught the ire of a religious high school teacher of mine, and for the most inane of reasons.

Eternal Flame.

Close your eyes
Give me your hand
Do you feel my heart beating
Do you understand
Do you feel the same
Am I only dreaming
Or is this burning
An eternal flame?

I don't know of anyone from my generation who has not heard this song, and I know some who have memorized it in and out, back and forth. It was one of the group's most defining songs, seeing as they don't play ballads too often, but this attempt saw a more vulnerable side to them and is considered their best-selling single.

And so we come to the teacher who had a bone to pick with this song.

As I have mentioned in my past posts, I came from an ultra conservative religious high school of the Protestant variety. And this particular teacher had a knack for, or more properly, delighted, in pointing out the "you're doing it wrong" parts of everyone, save for a few "favorites".

There was some kind of class presentation, so we had to bring our own casette players (remember those?) to play the background music, for a skit, if I remember correctly. And since we had the player already, I turned on the radio during recess/lunch break. When this particular teacher passed by, Eternal Flame was playing. Standing by and listening, the song had not reached midway when I heard this question:

"Why are you listening to Satanic music?"

If I was more dexterous with my jaw, it would have literally dropped to the floor.

"What?" I was trying to stifle my laughter but knew that any betrayal of levity on my part would result in a lengthier discussion, which obviously, I had no intention of pursuing.

"That song. Isn't that a song glorifying the Lake of Fire?"

"The Lake of...You mean, because of its' title? Eternal Flame?"

"That is the eternal flame. Hell. Why would you sing a song celebrating Hell?"

"Because it doesn't? She's singing about her love for someone and she's hoping for it to last..."

"The lyrics alone...wasn't the first line 'Close your eyes'? It's attempting to draw you to the dark."


"And then over and over, she keeps mentioning the Eternal Flame. This song is Satanic! I will bring this up with the principal! This song should be banned and should have no place in our school!"

"But it's a number 1 song, it's been number 1 for weeks now..."

"Yet another proof that this is from the devil! Only things that are popular in this world are the machinations and instruments of Satan! Shut that radio off! Shut it off!"

I did. I endured a monstrous stare from this teacher, as if I had proposed to eat children and sell their carcasses to the neighborhood lush for furniture. From that point on, I could feel a burning glare from you-know-who, with whatever I did, presented, organized, joined in.

You can't blame me for thinking that too much religion makes people stupid. I had these particular adults to show me the way. And they displayed their mental emaciation in stunning, drop dead fashion. And I mean dead as in nonexistent grey matter.

So, to all "Satanists" (according to them), here's to us, and while we're on that note, here's a link to the video of the song in question. It's a good thing we didn't have portable video players back then, the "flickering fire" in the video background would just be more fodder for the imaginary battle against an illusory "evil influence" in a song that had nothing to do with religiosity.

You can sing along. Loudly. Without guilt or fear of reprisal.

(Courtesy of

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