April 17, 2016

The Inevitably Of Age

Let me get this straight- Guns’ N Roses recently reunited and plan a US stadium tour this summer, but before they do, they played a small LA show at which Axl broke his foot, so he borrowed the Game Of Thrones thing that Dave Grohl made and they recently played a show in Vegas and Cochella this weekend, and as if this wasn’t enough, Axl is now also the lead singer for ACDC and will join them on tour before the actual GnR tour starts in late May?

Let’s also not forget that Axl is a fifty-four year old psychopath who has never been anything close to stable. I do not see any of this ending well for anyone. My morbid curiosity has gotten the better of me and I have been watching random viewer clips of some of these shows and here are some observations:

Axl has a weird bob hairstyle and most of his hair line is receding. He seems to wear awkward leather jackets that are too new and not worn-in enough. Slash is pretty buffed and fit these days, however, he has a bit of a double chin. The hat thing is still his thing. Duff feels like the most well-adjusted and the only one who is having any fun.

The songs sound okay, but a bit predictable and slower as if old rich dudes are playing them instead of desperate loser junkies. And let’s be honest, Appetite for Destruction was meant to played by and enjoyed by people with nothing to lose, and very few of us are those people any more.

In high school, Guns N’ Roses was my band. My quote in my senior yearbook was “I don’t worry about nuthin’, cuz worryin’ is a waste of my time.” We listened to that album everywhere: before we went out, while we drove around town and on the way home. I was drawn to the tattoos, the leather, the Jack Daniels, and the I don’t give a f*&k attitude of every member of that band. They were Rock n Roll personified. I loved that my parents hated them, although my dad had a sweet spot for November Rain and Patience, and I loved that they were everywhere. Although they were the biggest band in the world, I felt that I understood them best. I was the only angry, disenfranchised teenager in the world, and damn it if those songs weren’t my soundtrack.

And then, as if Appetite and Lies were not enough, in 1991 right as I was about to begin grade ten, the Use Your Illusions albums hit the world. We had no idea at the time that that was the beginning of the end of the best rock and roll band on the planet, so I stood out in front of Bedrock Records at midnight and stayed up all night to acquaint myself with those songs. Sure a few were embarrassingly bad, but so many of them were awe inspiring at the time. Ballads, funky bluesy things and some good old fashion Guns rock.

I could write a whole other post about how some of the love songs, November Rain and Don’t Cry in particular will always be connected to my first real girlfriend and all the baggage that can be attached to that…. “So if you want to love me than darling don’t refrain…”

I should be excited by this G n’ R revival, but I am not- on the contrary I am a bit saddened. This was music for desperate people blinded by their youth. We were reckless and brash. The music allowed us to be punks and losers and for lack of a better word stupid. I remember arguing with my mom that the lyrics to One On A Million were just artistic expression and not ignorant racism, homophobia or misogyny. But that kind of sweeping need for rebellion just made sense on a drunken Friday night standing around in the dark with a bottle and our small gang of friends wondering why we weren’t invited to the cool kid’s parties. But now, at fifty-four it is clear that Axl is nowhere near the jungle, and it is sad that he doesn’t have the sense to see where he might be.

Yes, I listen to other bands from that era. Pearl Jam comes to mind, but the difference is that Pearl Jam grew, changed, evolved and continued to make ten albums of music. Sure they still play some of the hits from their youth, but they have translated their angst into wisdom. And they have allowed their aging fans to follow along on the journey. Guns N’ Roses is still mired in a state of blissful adolescence. And when you are sitting in a chair with a cast on your foot wearing a leather jacket that looks like a costume howling about the Rocket Queen it just doesn’t quite fit.

I wish those guys the best, because they were an authentic part of me in those days, but I can’t do anything but listen to the old songs with the young versions of G n' R singing them. The new versions sound like cheap knock offs.

Wisdom has to be the understanding of how to balance our need to hold onto our fading youth and learning to balance the encroaching inevitably of age.

On that note, I just hit play on the new PJ Harvey album. And within the first four bars….oh my.

It was passed nine and I was still in bed. The sun was dripping across the sheets and I knew I had nowhere to be and nothing to do but eat, watch a movie and then eat again and sleep. That is exactly what we did today. We saw The Huntsman and all of us loved it. We had lunch and then laid around the house for most of the afternoon. I reacquainted myself with my guitar and now an early bedtime with some overdue reading.

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