This week, we take another look at Coop’s 8th solo album, DaDa. The LP was released in 1983 and wound up being his last record with the Warner Bros. label. DaDa stands apart from other Alice albums. It embraces many of the things we’ve come to expect from Alice, such as absurdity, artistic liberation, and dark humor. Yet, there’s an extra element of surrealism – a form of expression free from the conscious mind or rational control.
That extra dose of surrealism can be felt throughout the album, both conceptually through the visual artwork and audibly as well. The album features Bob Ezrin as producer and co-writer on several songs, the first time Ezrin had worked with Alice since the Lace and Whiskey (1977) record.
** BRIEF SIDE NOTE: Throughout this journey, it’s been mind-blowing to discover the significant impact Mr. Ezrin has had on the music industry. As fans of music, we often give the most attention to the artists performing the music while often overlooking the process it takes to create an album from a production standpoint. A good portion of the initial concept for Alice Cooper progressed through the artistic guidance of Ezrin. With that, it should also be stated that his work with other bands and records is equally impressive.
For instance, other LPs, including Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and Kiss’s “Destroyer,” would have likely sounded completely different or may have never been made at all without his ear and musical talent. In many ways, this post is a salute to Bob Ezrin and the gifts he’s given to the world of art, music, and entertainment. **
There is little known about this time period. At least three of the albums recorded in the early 80s – Special Forces (1981), Zipper Catches Skin (1982), and DaDa (1983) – are considered The Blackout Albums (some fans and critics include Flush The Fashion (1980) as well). Alice states, “To be honest with you, I don’t remember writing them, I don’t remember recording them, I don’t remember touring with them. If there was a time in my life that was on automatic pilot, that was it.” Soon after DaDa’s release, the Lord would intervene and remove the addictions and vices that had led Alice down such a dark path.
“DaDa” is the first song heard on the LP and dramatically opens the album for the listener. Solely written by Ezrin, the track is theatrically landscaped by a score of synthesized tones and loops accompanied by an infant or child-like echo uttering the word, “DaDa.” Anyone that had first believed this album was merely a nod to Dadaism (an early 20th-century avant-garde art movement) quickly notices that there is a dual-play on the word “DaDa.”
After more than two minutes of music, a dream-like state is set for the rest of the track. Then the mood turns darker, and Alice’s voice can be heard conversing with another person (someone that appears to be a doctor or a psychiatrist). The discussion is a back and forth exchange between the two, focusing on Alice’s temperament and his children.
Again, not much is known about this time period, but it seems like Alice was standing at a crossroads. During the discussion, Alice is asked about his change in feelings – including violent, resentful emotions. Maybe so many years of playing the villain had finally caught up to him? Perhaps he noticed that so many other musicians (Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Moon, etc.) had been down the same road he was on and died as a result? That part of the discussion is quickly shut down, as Alice mutters, “I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s talk about, uh, talk about something else. Ok?”
The dialogue then refers to “his son.” At the time, Alice only had one child, his daughter, Calico. Was this song meant to be taken literally or figuratively? Is this a discussion about his “son,” Alice, the character who takes care of him? Was it about Warner Bros. records and the discontentment surrounding his relationship with them? Was Alice externalizing the conflicts he faced between being a Rockstar, a Husband, and a Father (all while living under the microscope of the “public eye”)? As a listener, it’s fascinating to try piecing together what might have been going on inside his mind.
Have you ever been there, confused by your circumstances? Wonder how you got where you currently are? Trying to identify who you are or what you’ve become? What went wrong? Maybe all of the above? It seems as if we reach various crossroads throughout our lives – what career choice/change should we make, who should we marry, when should we have kids, etc., but isn’t the most crucial crossroad a spiritual one?
Each crossroad, crisis, or struggle can be seen individually (as a hurdle or stepping stone to the next), or they can be seen as something much more profound. A spiritual journey that carries us closer to God and closer to our reason and purpose for being here.
For Alice, his journey has inspired many people across the globe as they witness a man transformed by the Mercy, Grace, and Love of our Heavenly Father. Through his transformation, we also see Alice and Sheryl Cooper, together, giving back to their community as partners in Solid Rock Teen Centers. Crucified with Christ, yet ALIVE through Him in Spirit (Galatians 2:20).
So, the real question is, where are you? Are you currently at an intersection in life? Have you come to that spiritual crossroads that asks “where do you stand,” “who do you follow,” and “where are you headed?” Transformation is supernatural and doesn’t typically happen overnight. It’s a journey and a process.
The key things to remember, not only after you’ve decided to take the plunge and walk with Christ, but also as you continue to grow and learn…replacing your old nature with His nature are as follows:
Learn to move past your past – There are so many essential verses that apply here, but these three, in particular, define how we should view our history while we rejoice in our present (knowing He holds the plans for our future).
“18 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it/ I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:18-19
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
”13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14
Learn to face fear by standing on His Word – The saying “Fear Not” is found more than 100 times throughout scripture. We see these words mentioned in songs and prayers, as encouragement from one to another. They were also often used by Christ to calm the hearts of the faithful. Learning to replace Fear with Faith is essential. Here are some verses to guide your steps.
“3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 5 All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin.” – Psalm 56:3-5
“22 Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”- Luke 12:22-25
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18
Learn to find joy as you endure life’s trials – Ever heard the saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” There’s a respectable amount of truth to that. The truth is, a decent amount of strife precedes some of our most significant victories in life. We are “put through the fire,” so to speak, and come out galvanized by the experience. Strategic verses for this thought process include the following:
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”- Psalm 126:5
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18
“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3
Wrapping this up, we often find a great deal of transformation when life seems hopeless and lost. It may not be fully recognized at the time, but we are being strengthened as we suffer. Ultimately, we can choose to springboard out of the darkness or plummet further into despair.
As discussed above, we must learn to let go of the things that haunt our past. It is vitally important for us to know and believe that once we’ve accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, His Spirit – the Holy Spirit – from that moment forward dwells within us. We become new creations, shedding the skin of our former selves and now walk, forever, as righteous through the blood of Christ. We are no longer slaves of this world; we are free from those chains – loosened by the Love of our Lord.
We must learn to face fear head-on, knowing that our Heavenly Father has a plan, and that fear draws to you what you fear most, while faith draws you closer to the One that is faithful. Therefore, you must ask yourself, do you fear what tomorrow holds, or are you faithful that He will supply your every need?
And finally, we must learn to find joy even during the tougher moments in life. Storms come and go throughout our time here on earth. How you view and approach those tougher moments will help you navigate further upstream. We find real joy and meaning as we persevere and allow Him to lift us out of the muck and mire on to the solid ground of His Word.
In conclusion, the darkest path of Alice’s journey directed him towards the Light. Coop has consistently admitted that he was able to quit drinking “cold turkey.” He was healed and stripped of his addiction – his need for alcohol was taken away from him. No withdrawals. Nothing. It was gone.
Miracles do happen, and living proof does exist. If you don’t know much about this time period in Coop’s life and career, just a little bit of reading and Google research exposes a frail, sick looking Alice. However, approximately six months or more after he was hospitalized (for dangerously low potassium levels and cirrhosis of the liver), he was reunited with his wife, Sheryl, and daughter, Calico. The makings of what the world would have considered the end became a new beginning.
After a few years apart from the music industry, the “new Alice” would appear sober, more sinister, and full of ego – the villain was back and more durable than ever. Alice, the character, was recreated, but Alice, the man, was a new creation. A living embodiment of the Mercy, Grace, and Love of his Creator – the Creator and Designer of us all. Amen.
Fridays with Alice provides a weekly essay reflecting upon the biblical influence of Alice Cooper's songs. Here is the link to the website. https://fridayswithalice.com/dada-dada-1983/