Granted, I come from the 80’s hair metal world. I grew up playing all the songs in cover bands and wanting to be the next guitar hero like Steve Vai, Richie Kotzen, Nuno Bettencourt or Paul Gilbert, so I have an affinity for some of the music of that era. The 80’s bands were known for their excess and being over the top with their image. While this is true, it’s exactly what being a “rock star” is all about, being larger than life and attaining the seemingly unobtainable “superstardom.” You can say what you want about the 80’s music scene, but all I can tell you is there has never been a more fun time in music and the entertainment factor then was much bigger and stronger than it has ever been. I will never be embarrassed by the 80’s as many of today’s musicians miss everything when it comes to knowing how to entertain. Big hair, make-up, spandex it’s all good with me as long as you can entertain. Jani Lane knew this about the music business and pursued his dream with everything he had.
Jani was one of the most prolific songwriter’s of this era. His song “Cherry Pie” is still famous and used in commercials to this day and he didn’t even like it. It took him 15 minutes to write as a last minute single at the request of his label. Jani had the ability to take everyday common phrases and turn it into a hit song, which is the sign of a true hit songwriter. Jani was able to say what we were all feeling and wanted to say to the ones we love in his songs in the most simple way that we could all relate to with out being to wordy. The hit song “Heaven” is a perfect example of this; as we all played this for our sweet hearts back in High School or for me barely out of high school. Songwriting genius comes in many forms and Jani had it in spades but thankfully in a way that us everyday people could access and relate to emotionally, deeply and personally which is exactly why Warrant’s songs did so well on the charts.
Songs like “Blind Faith” is the kind of song I have always wanted to be able to say to the woman I love. In its simplicity are the strongest words and emotions that are evoked when I think about what I desire with someone I love. Jani had songs like “I Saw Red”, “Stronger Now” and “Bitter Pill” that all reached us where it hurt most often. Whether it is the pain of losing we love, being cheated on or thankful that someone stuck with us when we were at our worst. Jani had a way of relating that in song and we loved it, we felt it and it stuck in our hearts and has never gone away.
Jani wrote other incredible songs like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “Down Boys” and “Machine Gun” which were just great rock songs and made you want to pump your fist in the air. His talent was far reaching and unfortunately ended way to early. To write one hit song in your career is an outstanding feat and most are very lucky to do it once let alone mutltiple times. Jani Lane wrote “Heaven” which peaked at #2 and “Cherry Pie” which topped out at #5. Jani had 9 songs that placed in the Billboard Top 100, a pretty hefty accomplishment for any songwriter and most would kill to have that kind of success. To not recognize his talent and ability is a crime and honestly no matter what his personal problems were, his talent was undeniable.
I remember reading interviews and being at concerts where Jani said he was embarrassed about some of the slow songs he wrote. Jani was trying to be heavier and cool with the new music regime. I was also at shows where he was beaming with pride and so thankful to his audience for making his songs so huge. Jani fought demons many of us will never know or understand, but in the end Jani was proud of his music as should we all be.
Any songwriter, musician or entertainer can learn a lot from Jani Lane. He was a true entertainer and was given a gift most of us spend years chasing down. Take the time to get to know his music and talent. Forget the genre or big hair and just listen to what he had to say and how he did it. You will be a better musician and songwriter for it.
Jani Lane struggled with many of the trappings of a “rock star” lifestyle as most in the business do and especially what seems to be the loneliness that truly follows you when you are alone in your hotel room but don’t let that cloud your judgment of his talent. Don’t let the back and forth with the band Warrant affect your opinion of his music. No matter what Jani’s personal issues were, in the end Jani was one very talented musician and songwriter and his songs defined a generation. There is no bigger statement or compliment than that.
Jani, from us to you, thank you for what you have given us. We will miss you and we love you. Rest in peace my friend.