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Somewhere along the line, the passion floats away.

For whatever reason, you grow up and that passion dies. All those First Experiences from youth, all those times you're obliterated by what you're hearing and seeing and doing and feeling. Where does it go? What's replacing it? How can you get it back?

Everyone has that thing, that one thing they love more than anything else. You can call it a hobby, a fixation, a complete waste of time. It's a part of you, for better or for worse. For me, it's always been music. Back when I'm five, it's 1986, I'm getting off to good shit like Motown and Michael Jackson. Whatever's on, whatever my parents were listening to, whenever I'm stuck in the car without control of the radio. Granted, not all of it was great, but it was what I was weaned on. And then, I got my very first Walkman. It was a cassette-only walkman and it was a piece of shit; it broke within a year.

Very next Christmas, I got my second Walkman! Again, cassette-only, because really, who needs the fucking radio? Sony. Man, that thing STILL plays! I got it still, over at my dad's house. Two double-A batteries and you're good to go (I had a collection of 4 rechargable batteries, with two always in the charger for when the two I used inevitably ran out). Now, to most of you, the Walkman isn't anything special. Something you bring with for those long car-trips, or boring waits in a dentist's office before it's your turn. But, not me. Oh, I used it in those cases too, but I wouldn't stop there. Now, I HAD a stereo. I've had my share of boomboxes and the like (Sharp has generally been my brand of choice, but their 3-CD changers are crap, avoid at all costs, they break down and stop reading CDs). But, I was such a NUT for music at such an early age, I couldn't just sit and listen to music in my bedroom. I had to listen to it EVERYWHERE. I can't stand silence. Generally, I prefer music to the sound of other voices. I have it on when I read, when I write, when I do dishes and cook. It's always around me! Even when I'm NOT listening, it's in my head 24/7.

Hours and hours would pass with me and that Walkman. My family and I would be in our living room watching television, and there I'd sit, non-stop rocking in the rocking chair with my Walkman playing one of the handful of cassettes I owned. I'm pretty sure it drove them crazy, though not as crazy as the stereo in my room, volume to 10, with my frog's voice croaking along to the singers. You could hear that shit two towns over!

Motley Crue - Dr. Feelgood
Michael Jackson - Bad
Aerosmith - Pump
Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Faith No More - The Real Thing
Alice Cooper - Trash
Van Halen - 1984
Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet
Def Leppard - Hysteria
Guns N' Roses - Lies
Ghostbusters II Soundtrack
Aerosmith - Permanent Vacation

There might've been a couple others in there, but essentially those are the cassettes I'd listen to, over and over again, throughout the later 80s years. And you know what? Ain't a damn one of them are considered all that cool now! I mean, today you're looking at A LOT of has-been bands and singers there! I'd venture a try at saying that I was relatively ahead of my time with Faith No More on that list, but I'm standing on thin water there. But, for me, it never really mattered what was all that cool. Sure, I listened to all the crap that was on the radio at the time (New Kids On The Block, we're looking at you ... Miami Sound Machine, The Jets, Madonna, Roxette ... though, I NEVER liked Richard Marx, you can quote me on that till the day I die), but the bands that I loved growing up, I didn't care if they were who my friends listened to!

***


On Tuesday the 17th of September, 1991, Guns N' Roses simultaneously released two albums (not a double album, mind you), Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. Why is that day important? Because they were the much-anticipated follow-ups to the greatest debut album and greatest hold-over EP of all time! I went out and bought those fucking albums that very DAY! Now, you're talking about a ten year old kid making five bucks a week taking out the garbage. I don't remember if I was doing the dishes every night for that second fiver (seriously illogical that one chore like taking out the garbage MAYBE every fourth day at the most netted me $5, while a chore like washing ALL the dishes every night only got me the same amount ... I guess it evens out somewhere, but seriously, it's a SUCKER doing the dishes for that second five! It really should've been in the contract: $10 for both, no one or the other about it). But, what I DO remember is having to borrow the extra cash from my parents to pick up both cassettes. Tapes used to cost 10 dollars apiece back then! Highway fucking robbery! But, man, once I put that music into my head, one after the other, it was worth doing chores for the next week or two without income.

That's the passion I'm talking about! Going into savage debt for that which you love most! In the ensuing years, I'd get into CDs (those very same Guns N' Roses albums were among the first I'd buy for the new medium). I'd join Columbia House, honor the deal of 15 CDs for a penny followed by 5 at regular price, quit, and sign up as Rodney Taylor, then Joshua Taylor, then enough time would've passed where I could sign up as Steven again. At one point, I was dancing with three different CD clubs: Columbia House, BMG Music Service, and CD Headquarters (an off-shoot of Columbia House: they were the first club to stop sending you a CD automatically if you didn't check NO on the corresponding box). I'd rack up bills of over $100. Now, there's a little grace period, but they don't let you pay that shit in installments. At my Allowance-Peak, I was making $20 a week (5 for the garbage, 5 for the dishes, 10 for mowing the lawn; thank you lazy brother for letting me hog all allowance-garnering opportunities). But, somehow, someway, I managed to get those bills paid off without alerting my parents to the fact that I was being hounded by CD Club Creditors via threatening letters.

Now, that's love. That's being a total Music Hound and relishing every note. The opportunities were limitless; it seemed like every week, every month, I'm attracted to a new band or a new style of music. It became the neverending hunt. Always expanding, into this behemoth of an obsession. And, I think that's what killed the passion.

No longer a fan of music, I became a junkie. The song "Mr. Brownstone" by Guns N' Roses is about heroin addiction, and it has a line that goes:

I used ta do a little, but a little wouldn't do
So the little got more and more


And that's what it's become with my music listening. I haven't been content with what I have for some time. It can be healthy to expand your horizons and groove with new sounds, but when it becomes this non-stop search for a new, different, fresh sound; when you've got so many albums that you only listen to them once and just let them rot; when you can't even appreciate the awesome shit you have because you're off looking for your next fix; that's when you gotta step back and take stock of the situation.

***


There should never be a three-month period that goes by where I don't listen to Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, Pink Floyd, Faith No More, Metallica, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, The Doors, Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Van Halen, U2, Motley Crue, Nine Inch Nails, Jane's Addiction, Jefferson Airplane, or Primus. These bands should be the backbone of my musical conscience at all times. I'd love nothing more than to listen to everything I have of these bands right now, but it's nearing 5am and I should probably do some sleeping.

That's how I know the passion hasn't completely died. I can sit up on a Friday night watching "Almost Famous" for the first time and then spend the rest of the early Saturday Morning writing about music.

And, I know there's still a flicker there somewhere. Certain bands still give me the jollies when I hear they have a record coming out. The Mars Volta, Radiohead, The White Stripes, Modest Mouse, The Strokes. Hell, I still have a soft spot whenever I hear Alice Cooper makes another comeback record, or if David Lee Roth and Van Halen spread rumors of a reunion tour, or if Aerosmith manage to shake the dust off and pump out another factory record. Doesn't mean I'd pay money to listen to them again, but it's good to know they're still out there; and I'll steal it if I can because, no matter how bad I know it'll be, I'll always be curious about the old favorites.

I'm pretty sure I only question my passion for music because there's one album I've been waiting for. One album I've been promised for the last 13 years since "The Spaghetti Incident?", which was only an album of cover-songs. I'm pretty sure all of my anticipated glee is tied up in the arrival of "Chinese Democracy." I know it's just Axl and a bunch of throwaways; I know he looks weird and sounds like he's lost a step in the vocal range (I'll argue, though, that Axl NEVER sounded good live, even at his zenith); I know everyone's pegging him as washed-up, out of touch, or just a loony shut-in. I don't care. I'll still sit here, heart fluttering, as I see the headline I've been waiting for, for SO LONG:

"Guns N' Roses Announce Release Date For Long-Delayed Follow-Up Album"

Makes me wish I knew someone who's as into that band as I am; I'd call them right then and there like a little kid on his birthday. No, it's not Slash and his raging guitar solos, nor Duff and his signature bass line, nor Izzy and his restrained rhythm guitar playing (underrated backbone, any real fan will tell you that). But, it's my band. It's my band and dammit, I haven't felt this way since 1991. I've been told to expect it before the new year, but I've been hearing that since 1999.

Until then, I wait. I filter a few more new bands on through to the iPod. But, I'm saving some space.
 
 
Current Mood: "Rock 'n' roll can save the world"? "The chicks are great"? I sound like a dick!
Current Music: Guns N' Roses - Garden Of Eden