Thursday, January 18, 2018

Everything is temporary

When I was young, and by that I mean actually young, not just younger than I am now, I did not have my own music. My tastes were defined by what my parents exposed me to. There was some good stuff in there: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, John Denver on the 8 track player in the car. From there it got a little less timeless, ZZ Top and The Pointer Sisters and Journey come to mind, but it was all that I knew so that is what I liked.

Fast forward to college.

Minimal supervision, a small amount of money flowing in, constant exposure to new, different, weird and sometimes terrible media. College is when I found myself, and not surprisingly found my music. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years kept me entirely away from home. I jetted off to Norway, Sweden and Estonia before working as a camp counselor until school began again. My oversized boom box came along as did a small selection of music, most of it still shackled to my childhood tastes: Meatloaf, AC/DC, Black Crowes, Aerosmith etc. Good stuff but still not my stuff.

Someone handed me Cranberries' Everybody Else is Doing It, Why Can't We. I laid on the floor with my head nestled between the speakers and listen to the entire album, start to finish. This was certainly new. Moreover, I liked it, and it was mine. From there I fell full on into grunge with Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden. As college went on I got more esoteric and/or just weird. No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom is a fucking classic and I will fight people over that fact. Music that was initially frightening, like Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson, became staples when the mood was right. Dave Matthews got his claws into me and I still have not recovered and I am to this day waiting for Poe to release a third album.

It was not all good. Nirvana is permanently banned from my radio and if I ever meet Thom Yorke of Radiohead I will kick him in the shins as a delayed reaction to over exposure to OK Computer. And good Lord, Red Hot Chile Peppers need to go away and Eddie Vedder needs to lighten the fuck up.

Did you notice anything those first three bands hand in common? Cranberries, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden. Dolores O'Riorden, Scott Weiland and Chris Cornell. Dead at 46 of currently undisclosed cause. Dead at 48 of a cocaine overdose. Dead at 52 via suicide. The voices that helped me figure out who I was (and am, for that matter) are dying off. To make matters worse, they aren't that much older than I am.

Every generation goes through this. I am sure that my parents know where they were when they found out that John Lennon had been killed. That doesn't make it any easier. And finding new music? All new music sucks. Again, every generation goes through this. Returning to my old catalog no longer brings solace, it is just a reminder of how temporary things are, be they personal identity or a tiny irish woman with a gigantic voice.

Yes, the music is forever, but the people behind it are not. A few of them I have seen in person. I have shared the air, at a tremendous distance, with O'Riorden and Cornell, and treasure that completely impersonal and altogether fabricated connection.

Moral of the story: go to more concerts. Because everyone dies eventually.

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