Sunday, February 03, 2008

It's So Easy

There are moments in our lives that stand out as definitions of who we are and who we will become. Sometimes they can be major events such as the explosion of the Challenger or the falling of the towers in 2001. Other events can be much more banal but have equally as impressive effect on the person experiencing them. A point of example would be the first time I ever heard Appetite for Destruction by Guns N Roses. More specifically, the first time I heard "It's So Easy" off that same album.

Let me take you back to 1987 when a nearly teenaged E was struggling with his own identity. That year the family moved from the bright and comforting land of Huntsville, Alabama into the gray and depressing vistas of east bumblefuck Michigan. To say that it was a major life change would be an understatement. Huntsville was a cradle of technology, as I saw it with my young eyes. All of my friends had centered their lives around this emerging technological revolution and countless hours had been spent staring at the loving glow of various CRT's and televisions.

In the blink of an eye that had all changed for me. Instead of finding myself lost in a digital world, surrounded by those that spoke my language, I now existed in a town that I unaffectionaly referred to as "Six cows and a gas station". The entire student body of what would become my high school was smaller than just the freshman class of where I had been. Instead of being surrounded by those that valued an affection for technology, I could now count on one hand those that shared that bond.

I had gone from a land of cable television to a world where we had a roof mounted antenna which could pick up three channels on a good day. The landscape was no longer lush and green, it was dismal, a black and white world of misery and urban decay. There was nothing worthwhile, as far as my pubescent brain was concerned and an inexpressable rage began to well within my young mind, yearning to express itself but finding no means of doing so.

Then in December of 1987 my sister came to visit us. She always brought a little bubble of sanity with her, and seeing that she was old enough to drive would at the very least allow for a few days of escape, even if it was just to go wander the Meijer's the next town over. But she brought with her a gift so much more meaningful.

She called me into her room to show me this new band she was into. I made myself comfortable while she popped in the tape of Appetite for Destruction. Welcome to the Jungle blasted forth from the speakers and I immediately found myself entranced by the raw power of Axl Rose's voice and the dirty guitar work of Slash. But it was the second song that opened my eyes to the world around me.

It's So Easy came through the speakers, kicking off with a single note that soon devolves into a cacaphonous din of drums and guitars. Axl's voice was much lower on this song and the lyrics just felt sleazy. But is was about halfway through the song when I had my epiphany. Precisely the moment when Axl said the following:

I see you standing there
You think you're so cool
Why don't you just
FUCK OFF

My young mind was destroyed by those words. 1987 was a time of "With or Without You" and "Girls, Girls, Girls". Hearing something as raw as Axl opened a second set of eyes within me, fiery embers viewing reality for the first time. I had never heard such anger and aggression spat forth through the medium of music. I never knew that you could express yourself in that manner, that you could spit forth with derision and anger and call it as you see it. And with those words Axl freed my mind and showed me that it was okay to feel how I felt and was certainly okay to express it in any way that I deemed fit. In essence, Axl Rose awakened E.

A quick view of my school pictures can easily show the moment where Axl's influence came into my life. The previous year's picture showed a bright, smiling young e dressed in an adorable little maroon sweater. This year's had an E with darker eyes and a black t-shirt emblazoned with a skull firing guns out its eyes. Prior to this e had played cello in a symphony. Now E wanted to explore the darker side of his personality and wanted to face the world head on.

Axl managed to show me other things in life as well, such as being a completely untrustable prick. To date I have had tickets to see Guns N Roses TEN TIMES and Axl has managed to cancel NINE of those shows. I only ever saw them once. Thankfully it was a great show, but the fact remains that he gave me so much and so little at the same time. (I've only been waiting FOURTEEN YEARS for Chinese Democracy...)

If I ever manage to achieve some measure of fame, I am going to contact Axl and arrange to meet him, showering him with compliments and affection. Then I'm just not going to show up once he's there.

Asshole.

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2 comments:

GeologyJoe said...

I remember that time based on the release of that album as well.

Its been about 20 years since the release and it still can stand its ground in the world of rock.

As for Chinese Democracy..forget about it. Its over.

E said...

I still have faith that CD will turn up one day. It will suck, I have no doubt about that, but it'll be interesting to watch in that "slow down for a car wreck" kind of way.

And Appetite still rocks.

\m/ (-_-) \m/

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