Cherry Pie


Band: Warrant
Album: Cherry Pie
Best song: The title track, however derivative and silly, is fun as hell.
Worst song: Oh, whatever.

One of the wonderful things about music and our relationship to it is the function of it bringing back memories, snapshots in time. I, of course, write a lot about this and especially did an entire 30-piece project about it.

The making of playlists is a way to do this. On my first iPod, I had a playlist named after my ex-girlfriend — we were dating at the time, of course — that had songs that reminded me of her. On a lesser level, I did this last week, creating a “90s Junk” playlist on Spotify (the playlist is here). It was fun going through my memory, trying to think of the stuff I liked — on the fringes, mostly — during that time. 

Yes, I came of age, taste-wise, in the first decade of this century and I’ve made that absolutely clear. But, I was a teenager in the 1990s and the decade’s touchstones are partially my touchstones. I remember, albeit barely, a time in which my computer had to dial the phone to connect to the Internet. I remember a time when everyone made fun of you for having a cell phone.

It was a pretty cool time to be a teenager, though that could be said for every single time, no? The 1990s were dynamic, with the technological seeds of the space race finally bearing fruits — satellite TV, cell phones, the Internet, etc. — for the consumer. TV was changing, from the three-channel days of my parents’ age to the cable days of my youth to the nascent ideal of 100+ channels of the 1990s. And MTV still had a foothold on the culture.

Whatever their foibles, in one way my parents did not drop the ball in raising me was their open-door policy on most culture. No, they weren’t letting my sister and I watch porno on TV when we were tiny, but they didn’t censor TV or radio the way a lot of parents did. My parents, essentially, let the cultural ether do the choosing for us.

I grew up in a part of a suburb that was not, for the first eight years of my life, wired for cable. My experience with cable television — and this was a big deal in the 1980s — was minimal and I was often out of the cultural loop of wiener kids at Avoca West Elementary School. I had to work to watch MTV — cousins’ houses, etc. — and I didn’t get to watch Nickelodeon until I was close to being too old for it. Our part of the suburb got cable in the fall of 1989, so I was able to catch the “Dawn of the Decade” party on MTV — back when MTV showed MTV Grind, a show of scantily-clad women dancing — around New Year’s.

I know it sounds minor, but TV largely raised me. The flipside of my parents letting the culture do the choosing for my sister and I — moreso me, because my sister is older and a much more disciplined person than I — was that I was plopped in front of the TV a lot as a kid. I watched a lot of TV and it was important to me. The upside is that it really fomented a curiosity in the culture that is only starting to fade now, in my 31st year.

Like every decade, the 1990s weren’t a monolith. Most people think of the decade in regards to grunge, but the late part of the decade saw a resurgence of pop artists (Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and the BackStreet Boys all broke in 98/99 and Will Smith’s career hit its zenith in the late 1990s) and the pre-Nirvana portion of the decade was full of the coda of pop-metal.

This made Cherry Pie a bit of a cultural touchstone for me. Mötley Crüe was my favorite band before I discovered classic rock, but the first album I remember buying with my own funds was Cherry Pie. My parents were hesitant, I imagine, because of the innuendo in the title track — they gave me far too much credit at age nine. But, they relented, drove me to the mall and let me use a birthday present gift certificate to buy the cassette of Cherry Pie.

Being nine, I absoutely did not understand the innuendo in the song; I just thought that “Cherry Pie” was something the boys liked about this girl. I was not aware, even after watching the video, that the girl’s pie was, indeed, her vagina. Which is kind of fun, now that I think back on it; there’s a Ginuwine-esque lack of innuendo that I begrudgingly respect about the songwriting of the song.

(According to our good friend Wikipedia, the song was written in 15 minutes because the label wanted an anthem on which to pin the record. I never thought I’d compare Warrant to Sabbath, but that’s a similar story to the title track on Paranoid. Only with less singing about a vagina.)

It made me a little sad last year when Jani Lane passed. Warrant was one of the final of the pop-metal bands to have broke before Nirvana hit and weren’t popular enough to have spawned terrible reality shows or unending reunion tours. Instead, Warrant toured a bit and probably fell into the trappings of being a has-been.

If nothing, there’s one person who heard “Cherry Pie” and became a more intense music listener. So, his memory exists there, I guess.

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