by J. Bateman
An absurd re-interpretation of Warrant's hit single "Cherry Pie"
|Jani Lane is most widely recognized as the lead singer of the hair band Warrant. Rarely during his prime was he ever photographed in anything beyond the stereotypical image he represented on stage, complete with leather pants, long bleached hair, and a shaven chest. Sadly, the modern poet that he held within was rarely recognized.
Jani wrote lyrics for his songs with a depth and relevance that modern critics overlooked and dismissed as cheap, meaningless, and lacking in artistic worth. This is the core of Lane's genius. He was so capable as a creator that he was able to mask the truth of his often painful messages with pop icon flair. Perhaps the greatest example of this is his hit single "Cherry Pie."
To the casual observer, Cherry Pie is a thinly veiled series of sexual innuendo in the crudest sense. Admittedly, Lane perpetuated this image by filming the classic video that portrayed scantily clad females dancing for the camera. Again, the mass audience bought his ruse and missed his message entirely.
What is not known about Jani Lane is that he is a phenomenal storyteller. This should not be surprising at all, really, as he is the great grandson of gypsies who traveled the countryside with nothing more than their folk tales and superstitions for entertainment. Storytelling was a key part of gypsy life, and the family's history was passed down in this fashion.
Jani secretly embraced this gypsy heritage when he wrote most of his albums, and Cherry Pie is the most noteworthy example. Cherry Pie tells the story of the tragic lost love of his great uncle Rudolph Lane in the late 1920s. Rudolph severed ties with the rest of the family in order to join a lesser known band of street performers who ultimately wished to create their own circus show. It was among these societal outcasts that Rudy met Cherise, a clumsy, deformed trapeze artist.
Cherise, or "Cherry" as Rudy lovingly called her, was born without fingers. This made the task of trapeze work, or "swinging" as Cherry called it, a very difficult challenge. She would use the bend of her wrists, elbows, and knees to hold onto the bar. For the big finish, Cherry decided that she wanted to swing from the bar with nothing but her teeth. For as clumsy as Cherry was as a performer, her ability to tolerate the taste of a wooden pole was worse. Rudy devised a way to create a gimmick for Cherry's performance by slathering the pole with fresh-baked pies right before the final part of Cherry's act. Cherry's show business name was delivered: Cherry Pie.
So mesmerized was Rudy with Cherry that he spent all his free time helping her to perfect her act. With a lack of available training space and equipment, Rudy applied his gypsy know-how to erect swinging apparatus anywhere he could, hoping to train his true love into a national icon as a premier circus performer. Rudy and Cherry practiced her art at all hours, day and night, inside and out, and even in confined spaces. Cherry's lack of natural athletic talent and missing fingers rendered her very accident-prone, and therefore any effort to practice within eyeshot of other was met with harsh ridicule and laughter. Indeed they had a great concept for a show, but the execution was horrible.
Determined to help his true love, Rudy developed ingenious ways to suspend Cherry's swings in places one would never expect so that she could practice in private. Lane hints at Rudy's inventive thinking with his lyrics: "Swinging on the front porch, swinging on the lawn; swinging where we want 'cause their ain't nobody home; swinging to the left and swinging to the right" He goes on: "Swinging in the living room, swinging in the kitchen." Indeed, Cherry's hobby of swinging was quite the obsession for both of them.
The preferred location for their swinging activities happened to be at Cherry's parents' home in central Pennsylvania. When her parents were away, Rudy would quickly rig up ropes and bars and pies and assorted whipped dairy products so that Cherry could sneak a few minutes of rehearsal time into her day. One particular summer Sunday afternoon, Cherry's father left the house and Rudy strung up a rig in the bathroom. He coated the bar of the trapeze set with fruit filling and watched as Cherry bit onto the bar and began to swing. Suddenly, tragedy struck.
Cherry chipped and lost a tooth, and accordingly lost her grip on the trapeze bar. She swung wildly out of control and hit her head against the wall, rendering her unconscious. Rudy heard the noise and came running only to find his cherished Cherry Pie's lifeless body collapsed on the floor, her neck broken. Rudy held her in his arms until sunset, when Cherry's father came home and saw what had happened. As he struggled to fight back a tear, he only muttered the sentence "You ain't gonna swing with my daughter no more."
Rudy's spirit was broken. He returned to his gypsy family and told them the tale that has been passed on for generations, ultimately to Jani Lane himself, who has transformed this terrible painful tale of love, loss, and untimely death into the greatest poetic masterpiece ever set to music.