“He is the King of all the land
In the Kingdom of the sands
Of a time tomorrow.
He rules the sand worms and the Fremen
In the land amongst the stars
Of an age tomorrow.”
– Iron Maiden, “To Tame A Land”
“I never thought of Maiden as geeky.”
There’s this quiz that was floating around Facebook that was supposed to determine what one’s metal theme song should be. Friend of the site, Gary Mitchel, got Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” as his theme. The quiz result went on to explain how this song resonated with nerds and geeks. Inspired by the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War, “The Trooper” is a fantastic song and its album art provided one of the most iconic Iron Maiden images. While the song itself isn’t geeky, one of its most amusing uses is.
In World War Z, the novel by Max Brooks and not the Brad Pitt movie that I’ve yet to see but have heard has little to do with its source material, there’s a couple of sections from the perspective of an American soldier on the front lines to battle back the undead horde. During one of those sections, he talks about the pre-battle rituals they engage in. One of those rituals included listening to “The Trooper” to get themselves pumped up and ready to go. When I first read that shout-out, I may have cheered a bit.
See, Iron Maiden is my favorite band. They’ve been my favorite band since I was 11 and our Swedish exchange student introduced my brother and I to their music. He also introduced us to the world of tabletop gaming in the form of White Wolf games. To me, Maiden has always been linked to geekiness. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re also a surprisingly nerdy band. Well, it’s apparently a surprise to people who aren’t me.
“Maiden is far more geeky than people realize.”
When Gary got that quiz result, one of his friends commented about how they hadn’t realized that Maiden was geeky (see the first section’s heading). Naturally, I responded with an offer to give people a lesson in the geeky qualities of Iron Maiden just in case anyone wanted to take me up on it. As I later said, “Education is part of my Internet mission.” So, on top of them taking pieces of the epic poem “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and weaving them into a song that clocks in at over thirteen minutes, they have all kinds of Historically nerdy songs. Then, well, you’ll see. Here’s what I posted:
“Let me begin my lesson by first mentioning that I knew the relationship was going to go South when one of my exes said that he couldn’t take Iron Maiden seriously because they wrote a song about Dune. When not crafting songs about battles and demons, they take their song-writing inspiration from books, movies, and TV shows.”
“Iron Maiden wrote two songs about the TV show ‘The Prisoner.’ They have a song about the oft-maligned caveman film, Quest for Fire (a movie that starred Ron Perlman and Rae Dawn Chong). Their song, ‘Out of the Silent Planet,’ was inspired by Forbidden Planet and the title is a reference to a sci-fi story penned by C.S. Lewis. On the same album as ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ is a song called ‘The Wicker Man’ that was inspired by (you guessed it!) the horror film from 1973 (not the remake with Nic Cage because ew).”
“So, yes, Iron Maiden’s band members are nerds who have found ways to sneak geek content into their albums. Their historically inspired songs helped me on tests back in high school and their songs about ‘The Prisoner’ have helped me in various geek discussions since I still haven’t seen the show. They still tour and produce new content. I’ve seen them three times in concert (so cool!). They’re my favorite band for many reasons and their geekiness is just one.”
The Pervasiveness of Geek Culture
Most of what I mentioned happened before the geek culture really rose into prominence. I think it’s pretty remarkable to hear all of these various references to nerdy pop culture in a band as iconic as Iron Maiden. I mean, say what you want, they were one of the biggest and most influential bands of their era. They’re still touring around the world and playing to huge crowds.
They may have been more subtly geeky than some of their contemporaries, but they were still geeky before it was cool. They made being a geek cool with their songs inspired by mythology, books, television, movies, and history. They elevated their genre and, well, they’re just so awesome. So, yes, Iron Maiden is a geeky band.