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Rock Of Ages

by

Def Leppard



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This begins with a voice that says something like "Gunter Glieben Glauten Globen." It doesn't mean anything. Producer Mutt Lange got tired of counting the band in with "1, 2, 3, 4...," so he started saying this. The band would sometimes make up stuff when asked what it means.
This song references Neil Young in the opening lines:

I've got something to say...
It's better to burn out
Than fade away!


This is part of the refrain of Young's "My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)" target="_blank">My My, Hey Hey," released in 1979 on Rust Never Sleeps.

Def Leppard, more so than most bands, paid a steep price for their fast living. In 1984 their drummer Rick Allen lost an arm after losing control after racing his Corvette on a dangerous stretch of road near Sheffield, England. Lead singer Joe Elliott and guitarist Phil Collen stayed sober from this point forward, but their other guitarist, Steve Clark, couldn't shake his additions and died from an overdose of prescription drugs in 1991. (thanks, Ekristheh - Halath)
The band had the music written for this song, but were having trouble coming up with lyrics. One night, there was a bible study group in the studio and the next day, lead singer Joe Elliott found a bible open to the hymn "Rock Of Ages." He started singing the phrase and Lange thought it would be perfect for the chorus. They used it as the title and wrote the rest of the lyrics from there.
There are no guitars on the verses, but they come in strong in the chorus.
Written to excite stadium-sized crowds, in our interview with lead singer Joe Elliott, he called this song a "call to arms." It was released as the second single from the Pyromania album, following "Photograph," which was also a big, rousing anthem.
Back in the CD-ROM days, There was a "Ages Of Rock" computer program that detailed important dates in Def Leppard history.
Note the prominent cowbell in this song. One of producer Mutt Lange's talents was incorporating the latest technology into a band's sound while retaining an organic sound. The glossy production on this track is offset by the pastoral sound of the cowbell, an instrument that evokes classic Rock songs like "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain and "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones.
In an interview with the magazine Kaos 2000, lead singer Joe Elliott talked about what influenced this song. Said Elliott: "We'd have never written 'Rock Of Ages' if we hadn't have heard 'I Love Rock And Roll' by Joan Jett. But we didn't steal her entire sound. We took that one song and thought, 'This is very anthemic. We could get away with writing songs of this standard and style.' And that's what we did. It doesn't particularly sound that much like her, the chorus a bit. The actual structure of the song is nothing alike."
In the book MTV Ruled the World - The Early Years of Music Video, Joe Elliott, lead singer for Def Leppard, reminisces with a grin about the making of the "Rock of Ages" video: "It was the ridiculousness of it, which is exactly what the video needed to be. [Director David Mallet] was like, 'I want you to walk down this drawbridge holding this sword.' It's like, 'Oh, f--k off. Don't make me do that!' Of course, like an idiot, I submitted to his blinked eyes, looking at me like some long-lost dog. David Mallet's got a great way of manipulating people like that. I was young and dumb and went 'OK.' I look at that now, and I think 'What the hell was I thinking?'"

The band's manager Peter Mensch got some screen time in the video. He's the druid mouthing the opening words and playing chess.
Listen to the verses, and you'll notice that guitars are missing, which emphasizes the vocals but presents a problem: What should the guitarist do in the video? Joe Elliott explained in the aforementioned book: "There's a couple of shots where [guitarist] Phil [Collen] was clapping along on the verse - because there's no guitars - and he's standing directly behind me, so I look like I have these clapping antlers coming out of my head."In the same book, guitarist Phil Collen adds: "Pretty funny when you look back. The robe thing took about 30 seconds to film. You kind of forget about that."
"She Blinded Me With Science" singer Thomas Dolby worked on the Pyromania album with Mutt Lange, credited as "Booker T. Boffin." Dolby told us: "It was terrific. I was working only with Mutt. I barely saw the band. I think I saw Joe Elliott very briefly. But I was primarily working with Mutt and Mike Shipley, the engineer. And it was a very manicured sound for a rock record. A lot of what Mutt wanted me to do was sort of double the guitars and make them creamier and thicker."
Ever wonder why there's an owl in the video? According to Joe Elliott, the director David Mallet thought it would be funny to put the bird in the clip where he says the line, "all right," because it sounds like "owl-right."
In 1998, The Offspring used the open on their song "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)."
A musical called Rock of Ages opened on Broadway in 2009. Featuring popular music from the '80s, the play takes its name from this song, but no Def Leppard songs appear in the production. When the musical was made into a feature film in 2012, the Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" was included, performed by Tom Cruise. That same year, the band embarked on the "Rock of Ages" tour with Lita Ford and Poison.
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Comments (34):

In a VH-1 interview Joe Elliot lead singer of Def Leppard said when they were starting out his band were very influenced by the Arrows who wrote and recorded the original version of "I Love Rock And Roll' in the mid seventies, long before Joan Jett covered it, and he felt that though the Arrows were very influential to his band he was puzzled as to why they're so overlooked in rock music history. I agree, the Arrows are particularly ignored in the U.S. rock press. Joe Elliot certainly didn't hear the first version of "I Love Rock N Roll" by Joan Jett. He heard it in 1975 in England by the Arrows who wrote and recorded the original version, and Joe Elliot is on record in an interview stating that as fact. Joan Jett also saw the Arrows do the song on TV when she was on tour in 1976 with the Runaways which is what inspired her to do the song years later, a hit for her in the USA 1982. The Arrows never released the song in the USA in the 70s. They only released their version in England.
- Kris, New York, NY
To all who think they know what is said at the very beginning: Unte Gleeben Gloten Globen means "Eenie Meenie Miney Mo" in Swedish or some similar language. After Pyromania had just came out, I heard an interview on the radio with the band and the question was asked about the meaning. And to this day I remember one of them saying it means Eenie Meenie Miney Mo. Its definitely NOT jibberish! They wouldn't have jibberish as the opener for any song!!
- Jim, Modesto, CA
They actually got the opening "Something to say, better to burn out....." part from a t-shirt someone was wearing. A year before the song came out they visited Rochster NY and were on the Brother Wease show on 96.5 FM WCMF. Someone had a shirt on it with those words and Joe Elliot saw it and liked it not knowing what it was from so he lifted it for the song.
- Mike, Rochester, NY
The lines "I've got something to say: it's better to burn out than to fade away" was also used in the movie "Highlander".
- Karen, Manchester, NH
I'll never forget hearing this song on this old LP of Pyromania that I still have at home. My older sister was the one who played it and somehow that song and "Foolin" always stood out as the most memorable Def Leppard songs for me and still are to this day. Every time I hear this song or any other song by this band it just takes me back to that time and always puts a smile on my face. This is why Def Leppard will always be one of the greatest bands in music. They truly rock my world.
- John, Henrico, VA
I always think of the songs off Hysteria and Pyromania as one large album that should be played seguentially.
- Linc, Beaumont, TX
You can hear two lighter flicks at 0:04-0:05, and a water bong rip can be heard at 3:55 just after the match strike...
- Matt, Washington Township , NJ
Re the opening to this song, my guess would be it's mispronunciation of German. A few sites have the opening words for Pretty Fly for a White Guy listed as: Montag Lieben Lauten Loben. These are all real German words. Literally translated on Babelfish they mean: Monday love sounds praising. I've only covered basic German at high school, but my guess would be sex on monday sounds good? All those who claimed to be German but couldn't figure out it was a mispronunciation should be able to give you the proper translation.
- Steve, Brisbane, Australia
Def Leppard's best song in my opinion
- Michael, Morris County, NJ
def leppard kicks @ss
- jacob, booneville, MS
I loved the early videos on MTV, and "Rock of Ages" is one of the better and more imaginative ones!

I especially liked the scenes of the band all dressed as monks, Joe Elliott swinging his sword, and when Phil Collen turned his sword into a guitar and then launched into the solo!
- Michael, San Diego, CA
This was the first song I heard about Def Leppard. And my first leppard video too. I still remember Phil Collen making solo with his Ibanez and Rick Allen wearing his british shorts.
- Carlos, Caracas, Venezuela
This was the LOUDEST song at their concert. My god, they put ripples in the ocean it was so loud. And I loved every second of it.
- Brendan, Easton, CT
@Joel: Even IF they´d say "Unser Leiben Rocken Rollen" - it´s still not German. Trust me, ´cause I am German.
And "Gunter Glieben Glauben Globen" does not only mean nothing - "Glieben" and "Globen" are not even german words. "Glauben" however can be found in the german language and means either "to believe" (as a verb) or "belief/faith" (as a subject). And "Gunter" is a german name.
But I guess Mutt Lange didn´t say these words intentional.
- Thomas, Northern Germany
I never noticed how many girls like Def Leppard until I went to one of their concerts. Heavy enough for the guys, yet soft enough for the ladies, I guess. Either way, this HAS to be thier catchiest song ever; if not thier most popular. However, Songfacts is missing two great Def Leppard songs that shouldn't go unheard: Die Hard the Hunter, and High 'N' Dry. Love this song though!
- Evan, Otway, OH
The actual openning phrase is "Unser Leiben Rocken Rollen" -- or, we love rock & roll.
- Joel, Pensacola, FL
This Is an awsome song but their best one is "Let Itt Go." This Song kicks butt!!!
- Dylan, Newport, VT
It sounds like German,but it's not,even though everyone I know claims it is,.
- Chelsea, Wichita, KS
One of my favorite songs. I love Neil Young, so I really like the quote from "Hey Hey My My (out of the blue)" And the begginng words. I'm listening to it now.
- Joni, New York, NY
This song was the first song by Def Leppard that I listened to. My dad had the Rock of Ages CD, and I had never bothered to listen to it. After I heard this song, I listened to the rest of the CD, and now I'm a diehard Leppard fan.
- Anonnymous, Nashville, TX
the beginning to this song sounds like (and always has) Oden Glieben... instead of gunter Glieben.... Does any one else agree with me or am I loony?
- Ev, Tuscaloosa, AL
Maybe the line, "Gunter Glieben Glauten Globen.", translates as something like, "Gunter Loves the Global Gluttons."
- Annabelle, Eugene, OR
"GUNTER GLIEBEN GLAUTEN GLOBEN" truly means nothing, it is pure gibberish. They have been known to say that it means something in german only as a joke. Also singer Joe ELliott forgot the words to this song while performing it on VH1's storytellers, it is the only time he has done that. (he claims)
- Judithann, Kalkaska, MI
Love the chorus
- Mo, Newark, NJ
i've heard joe elliot on vh1 say that the 'german' at the begining roughly translated means something like, "running softly through the forest" but i cannot confirm or deniy this.
- kevin, Sandy, UT
good song..i wonder what the band said about 'Gunter Glieben Glauten Globen'? Does anybody know what the made up?
- Amy, Dallas, TX
Yep she sure is.Shania 100# Canadian Bacon.Yummy!
- Andrew, Toronto
Along with "Photograph" these two songs define Def Leppard as a group who knows how to rock hard!! I remember going to the county fair when this was big and hearing it blarring from whatever the hottest ride was at the time. To this day, it still gets cranked in whatever venue it happens to be playing.
- Dee, Indianapolis, IN
When I first heard this, I thought they were singing 'Wacky Races'.
- Sue, Essex, England
I think this is the song that quotes neil youngs hey hey out of the blue.."its better to burn out than fade away"(joe adds some yeahs so make it def leppard-ish) also kurt cobain quoted this on his suicide letter
- mia, wellston, MI
There are more bible references in the song.

Rock of Ages is a term for Jesus.

"We have the power, we have the glory" is a term used expressly by GOD as In "I am the power and the Glory"

The song was marketed as hinting at a Dark side, even though it was just clever marketing.
- cale, Atlanta, GA
I was once told, and I still believe that the song should've been named with the same title as the album, "Pyromania"!
- Annabelle, Eugene, OR
Shania Twain, what a hottie.
- Bryan, Colorado Springs, CO
Mutt Lange is now the producer and husband of Shania Twain.
- David, Lubbock, TX
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