History of the song "Ace of Spades"—Motorhead (1980)
Among the most popular compositions of "Motorhead" can be attributed the legendary "Ace of Spades", placed in the album with the same name of the 80th year. The band's thirty-year career that followed brought a lot of good hits to the music world, but this one is, as they say, for the ages. It is often considered the band's anthem.
And today we will turn to the history of the creation of the track.
The essence of the song and an excursion into the history of its creation
Lemmy Kilmister said that the origin of the song began with a prosaic cargo van: he was shaking in it and hitting the sides, because they were rushing at some unthinkable speed. In his biography, the musician recalled:
«I used the metaphor of gambling. Mostly from card and craps. I like slot machines more, but it's strange to write about spinning pictures and suddenly generous reels. To be honest, almost the entire composition is dedicated to poker: “I know you are definitely following me. Look and cry. Again, the hand of a dead man, ”the cards that fell to Bill Hickok at the time of his murder were meant.».
Indeed, there are many associations and allusions in the song that refer to card games. "Dead Man's Hand" - a pair of black aces with eights of the same color. According to a story passed from mouth to mouth, after receiving these cards, the well-known Wild West character Bill Hickok was shot while playing poker.
In addition, in the English-speaking culture, the ace of spades has a rather gloomy symbolism. He embodies death, and this is associated with the American military. When the Vietnam War was going on, they placed aces of spades on the bodies of dead opponents to sow panic in the enemy troops. The Bicycle firm, a giant in the production of playing cards, organized mass deliveries to the battlefield of special decks, which included only aces of spades. Something similar then happened during the Iraq war. This is a kind of "black mark of death."
Release and success
However, we are now talking about Motorhead and their hit "Ace of Spades", which was released as a single at the end of October 1980 before the release of the album. And this is despite the fact that the composition has already sounded in public before. In the early autumn of the same year, Lemmy performed it on BBC radio, and then on the BBC television channel.
The band's fans took the track with a bang, and music critics also gave out several positive reviews. On the UK Singles Chart Ace of Spades peaked at number 15.
“To be honest, we admit that "Ace of Spades" is a very high quality composition, but I'm tired of it. For more than twenty years now, when talking and thinking about our band, people have in mind exactly "Ace of Spades". You know, by making that record, we didn't become fossils. Years later we had some pretty good releases. But fans love it and it's what they want to hear, which is why we play it every time we perform in public. - not to disappoint anyone. But if it was just me, I would have finished with her a long time ago.”
According to Q magazine, this composition deserves to take the 27th position among the hundred greatest guitar songs. TV channel VH1 placed it at the 10th position in the ranking of the best hard rock songs in all of music history.
This is interesting!
- Once upon a time, Lemmy got a tattoo on his left arm in the shape of an ace of spades.
- The song mentions "snake's eye" (meaning a couple of units in craps), the terminology of video slots, blackjack and poker is used. With the craving of authors for gambling, this is not surprising.
- There are some versions where the text has been reworked and lines related to the joker have been removed from it.