I remember it like it was yesterday. Christmas morning and I unwrap my gift to find Warrant's Cherry Pie cassette tape in my hands. It was an exciting moment to say the least. The title track had been getting a lot of airplay recently and the song "Heaven" (not on that album) was one of my favorites on the radio. So when my dad saw the cover and decided that I wouldn't be allowed to have the cassette until he had listened to the content first to see if it was appropriate for my all of 12 years, I was disheartened. Not because I knew the content was over a PG-13 rating, but because I knew my dad hated heavy metal and it would take forever to get the tape back from him.
I can pretty much guess that he didn't really ever listen to it when some weeks later I did get the tape back because if he did I would have never seen the thing again. The opening track alone is so laden with sexual innuendo that no 12-year old should be able to listen to it, especially not a Catholic school one. Either way, I now had the tape in my possession and I quickly slammed it into my dual cassette deck and hit the play button. Fast forwarding through the opening track, "Cherry Pie," because I had already heard it, I got to "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I had never heard anything like it before then. It was awesome! Followed up with "I Saw Red," "Bed of Roses," and "Sure Feels Good," Side A was amazing! I flipped the tape over and fell in love with "Love In Stereo," "Blind Faith," "Mr. Rainmaker" and "You're The Only Hell Your Momma Ever Raised." At twelve years old, I had no clue what most of the lyrics meant, but I loved the melodies, the music, and the voice that Jani Lane had.
Some years later I was introduced to the seventies and eighties rock band Boston by my uncle. When I first heard the song "More Than A Feeling," I thought it was a new song by Warrant. The singers sound so much alike it isn't funny. I quickly became a fan of the first two Boston albums (I don't care much for three and beyond) because they sounded like Warrant (funny that in reality it is the other way around huh?).
Back to Warrant though, I quickly ran out and picked up Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinky Rich and it would become a big part of the soundtrack to my middle school days. "Sometimes She Cries" is still one of my top five hair metal ballads, and "Heaven," "In The Sticks" and "Down Boys" are solid hard rock tunes.
When Dog Eat Dog came out in 1992, I had lost interest in Warrant because the lead single fromt he album, "Machine Gun," was garbage in my mind. It wasn't until years later that I would even give the album a chance, and that was because I had found the Ultraphobic CD in the music store and gave it a shot. Ultraphobic made me a Warrant fan again. Jani's powerful words on songs like "High" and "Stronger Now" took me back to my middle school days and really hit home. After losing my girlfriend "Stronger Now" became my anthem to get through the greiving process.
After my renewed interest in Warrant, I went out and got a copy of Dog Eat Dog and it turns out there are several solid songs on it. Jani really shines on "Whole In My Wall," "Andy Warhol Was Right," "The Bitter Pill," and "All My Bridges Are Burning." I still can't listen to "Machine Gun," but the rest of the album is a solid effort.
Like so many stories, Jani's comes to a tragic end. A tortured soul who had his demons, but all the while wanted to entertain his fans to the very end. John Kennedy Oswald, you will be missed.
So Jani, to quote you:
"I'd like to say that it was easy, it was hard to say goodbye. I thought that I would die. Letting go of you was so hard to do. I thought that it would kill me but I made it through somehow, and I'm so much stronger now." Rest in Peace Jani and have a good time singing with the angels.