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Best 10 Iron Maiden Songs
10. Wasted Years
The song is about the fleeting nature of time. They chose not to name it “Golden Years” so as not to confuse it with the David Bowie song.
“Wasted Years” was the first single from the album, and is one of Maiden’s most accessible and mainstream-sounding songs. It is probably as close as they can get to the mainstream and still retain their unique Maiden sound. There is a long and very melodic chorus by Maiden standards.
9. Phantom of the Opera
Running 7:22, this song was inspired by the 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux which was later turned into a popular musical adaptation for the stage and screen.
Bass player Steve Harris, who wrote this song, explained: “This is a very long song that was done in sections. The middle part was totally separate but it fit in very well. It felt right to go from the slow part into the middle section. Phantom is one of the best pieces I’ve ever written, and certainly one of the most enjoyable to play. It’s got all these intricate guitar lines which keep it interesting. Then there’s the slow middle part which creates quite a good mood. It’s also got fast heavy parts which are really rockin’. And it’s also got areas for crowd participation. It pretty much covers all the bases for the band. It was also a good example of what I wanted to get across.”
8. Dance of Death
This is the story of a man who journeys to Hell and dances with the dead.
7. Aces High
This song describes an air battle from the viewpoint of a flying ace. The lyrics and fast-paced style have made the song commonly associated with war, and it appeared in the 1986 film Incident at Channel Q, about a war between headbangers and conservative “straight people”.
The first line is “There goes the siren that warns of the air raid.” Lead singer Bruce Dickinson had earned the nickname “The Air Raid Siren” for his powerful, never-tiring vocals. He is also a licensed pilot, and since leaving the band in 1993, has flown many commercial flights.
The cover for the single was a close-up of Eddie in a WWII jet. The back of the case showed the jet spiraling the ground, up in flames, smoke spewing from it. The B-side was “King of Twilight.”
6. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
This was inspired by and based on the 1797 poem of the same name by Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), a contemporary of William Wordsworth and William Blake (whose work was the inspiration and basis of Bruce Dickinson’s solo album The Chemical Wedding). In the poem, the captain (The Ancient Mariner) tells the story of how his ship was driven south by storms and the strange happenings that followed. The moral of the story is that “we should love all creatures created by God.”
5. Run to the Hills
The first verse (“White man came across the sea, he brought us pain and misery”) is from the point of view of the Natives. The second verse (“Chasing the redskins back to their holes, fighting them at their own game”) is from the white man’s eyes, and the last verse (“Selling them whiskey and taking their gold, enslaving the young and destroying the old”) is an impartial third-person narration.
The cover art for the single featured a Native American with an axe wrestling a devil in Hell. Considering the lyrics, this caused some controversy, as many interpreted this to mean the band was suggesting that the imperialistic whites were devils.
4. The Number of the Beast
This song was influenced by the 1978 movie Damien: Omen II, which is about a 13-year-old Antichrist. It was written by Iron Maiden bass player Steve Harris, who explained: “Basically, this song is about a dream. It’s not about devil worship.”
The number of the beast, according to Revelation 13:18 (the quoted scripture), is 666. Interestingly, 6+6+6 is 18, the number of the verse. Elsewhere in that chapter, it is stated that no man will be able to buy or sell without a mark on the right hand or forehead with the number of the beast on it. This has lead to religious zealots “finding” 666 in practically everything.
The cover art for the album depicted Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie and a devil in vicious combat in Hell. The cover art for single depicted Eddie with a sinister grin on his face holding the devil’s head.
3. Fear of the Dark
This song is about a paranoid man who constantly fears that there’s someone or something about to spring out at him from the dark as a result of watching horror films and studying the occult. Themes like this appear on much of Maiden’s cover art.
This song appears in the Iron Maiden computer game Ed Hunter. It plays during Level 4, Graveyard.
2. The Trooper
This song is based on the Crimean War, which was fought by the Russians and the Ottoman Empire (England, France, and Sardinia). There are several mentions of the Russians such as, “The mighty roar of the Russian guns” and “When a Russian gets me in his sights.”
The opening with the galloping horses is based on The Charge Of The Light Brigade, a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Iron Maiden developed a beer named after this song. In 2013 the band unveiled the 4.8% alcohol Trooper Ale, which is produced by Cheshire brewery Robinsons. Bruce Dickinson said: “I’m a lifelong fan of traditional English ale, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when we were asked to create our own beer I have to say that I was very nervous. Robinsons are the only people I have had to audition for in 30 years. Their magic has been to create the alchemical wedding of flavour and texture that is Trooper. I love it.”
1. Hallowed Be Thy Name
This song is about a man who is on death row and about to be executed, it is from the perspective of that man.
The single’s cover shows Eddie as Satan stabbing Bruce to death with a triton. Killing the departing vocalist in album art was an idea that was also used on the cover of Maiden Japan in 1981 (with Eddie holding Paul Di’Anno’s severed head), as well as in the video of Bruce’s farewell concert with the band, “Raising Hell,” where horror illusionist Simon Drake appears to impale Bruce to death in an iron maiden torture device.