Kenneth Darter

Writing, Music, and Life

Dana Key – Teenage Suicide

Dana Key from the Christian Rock band, DeGarmo and Key passed away recently.  My prayers go out to his family and friends and the congregation he pastored.  I wanted to share a little bit about what his music meant to me, especially the song, Teenage Suicide and his solo album, The Journey.

His band, DeGarmo and Key, was one of the bands I listened to a lot in my formative years when I was learning to love music and finding out what kind of music I loved.  Their music captured the essence of everything that was good and bad about 80s music – and they did it with wonderful and thoughtful Christian lyrics!

They used some of the cheesiest synth sounds they could find on top of processed guitars.  And they dressed the part too – check out some of their videos on YouTube like the one below to see what I mean.  I had one of their concerts on video and you could tell how much they loved what they did and that they had a sense of humor about it as well.  It was great to see a band that featured guitar and synthesizers equally – they were even both up front side by side on stage.

I looked for a video of the song Teenage Suicide – it was on the concert video that I had (on VHS of course, long before DVD’s).  Unfortunately this was not on YouTube and I couldn’t find it anywhere else either.  For a moment, I thought I would be able to contribute to the blatant disregarding of copyright law and post the concert video since on one else had.  Alas, I threw away my last VCR a few weeks ago, so the concert tape will sit unwatched in my closet until my children throw it away after I die (they probably won’t even know what a VHS tape is).  There is a posting of the song without a video on YouTube so if you’re not familiar with it, go listen to it real quick.

The song, Teenage Suicide, was on the D&K album (1987).  It’s a nice piano ballad with some beautiful solo guitar  playing.  I was always impressed by the emotions in the singing and guitar playing.  The lyrics are first person point of view with the singer voicing the thoughts of a teenager contemplating suicide.  There are many other good songs addressing the issue of suicide but I don’t think any of them capture the gut wrenching emotions involved like this one.  The first verse is:

I don’t wanna hurt nobody
It’s just that I know I’ve had enough
It’s too much pain and hatred
I think I’d rather be dead
Than live without mercy, hope, and love
So don’t come any closer, I really mean it
Yes, I know that you think I’ve lost my mind
My gun’s here and I’ll use it
This time I’m gonna really lose it
List it as a teenage suicide

The best part of the song, though, is the coda at the end.  The point of view shifts from the teenager to the writer of the song.  This is the line that sticks in my head.

It could’ve been me
I’ve been in the moonlight screaming

Not only did they write a song capturing the thoughts of a troubled teenager but then they step back and declare that they’ve been there too.  A friend of mine in high school committed suicide and I had some hard times too and this song meant a lot to me at that time.  It meant that I wasn’t alone and that maybe life would turn out to be ok after all.  You can scream in the moonlight all you want but be sure to stick around and watch the sun rise.

I’ve rambled enough for today, I’ll have to write about Dana’s solo album, The Journey: Walking with Jesus another time.  And if you haven’t heard it, go buy it or download it, but whatever you do, please pay for it – stealing is stealing whether it’s digital merchandise or physical merchandise.


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3 thoughts on “Dana Key – Teenage Suicide

  1. Don’t you just miss the sweet exuberance of 80s music, even the “bad” stuff? Rewatching the original Karate Kid this week took me right back to when just a look or a brush of a hand could cause a teenager to tingle all over. I wept for what is lost – not for me, but for an entire generation.

    You make a couple of comments about intellectual property in this post – and that’s a subject I’m passionate about too – where is the incentive to create if you cannot be compensated appropriately for adding something good to the world?

    I was on a group call with someone recently who quibbled over the morality of returning some $7 clamp lights to Home Depot (that he didn’t use in his video shoot), but in the same conversation offered those of us on the call a link to some $300 screen video software (Camtasia) and access to the 9,000 songs in his MP3 library. He failed to see the irony.

    Sometimes I feel like Don Quixote tilting at the piracy windmill – it’s like the minute something can be transmitted digitally instead of used to clock someone over the head, it belongs to “everyone.”

    Anyhoo…Nice site – good job getting it going!

    • That’s funny you mentioned the Karate Kid – we just saw the A-Team remake which didn’t exactly transport me back to the 80s (except for when they played the theme song which gets stuck in your head for days on end) but it was definitely a fun way to spend a few hours.

      I completely agree with you about being compensated for intellectual property. Although I think the incentive to create is inside the creator whether they are getting paid or not – Stephen King says in his book, On Writing, that he would still be writing stories if he never saw a penny from them. He can’t stop writing because it’s who he is. I’m still learning to think that way.

      However, that certainly doesn’t give anyone the right to steal it if a creator has worked and paid their dues to get something published.

  2. There is always the content you “choose” to give away – and these days, it’s good marketing to do so – but when you, the creator, decide that you want fair compensation for other content – that should be respected. Torrent sites be damned.

    We saw A-Team last night as well – enjoyed it enough not to feel ripped off, although Stephanie Zacharek did characterize it as “the world’s first full-length trailer.”

    Based on the KK reviews, I don’t know that I’ll splash out to see it in the theater.

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