Why Do We Always Expect Our Favorite Bands To Reunite?
John Hammond, the billionaire CEO of InGen and the curator of Jurassic Park found out the hard way that sometimes things from another time and place don't mesh well with different surroundings. A guy even got eaten by a Tyrannosaurus rex while he was taking a dump, and one of those spitting dinosaurs spit poison at Newman from Seinfeld and killed him.
It was a mess. They even made three movies about the ordeal
In the past year, there have been many rock band reunions, each met with fandemonium of an epic scale. Rocks Off, the blog, and even myself have fallen victim to it, gushing loudly and romantically about reunions from The Beach Boys, Death From Above 1979, At The Drive-In and Refused. We wrote lengthy lists about who should reunite next and why, rubbing our sweaty hands together at the idea of a Smiths reunion.
But along the way, I started to think of the idea of band reunions differently. Maybe not every one of your favorite bands needs to reunite, just because you want them to. Maybe some of them said their piece over a career and are in fact done with that chapter of their lives.
Our emotional connection to a band's product, and their now-broken bond, is so great that we long for it to be to be whole. To somehow make a part of ourselves whole.
"Axl and Slash just have to play music together again, you guys. It would rule so hard," some say.
But what would that change about the past 20 years? Nothing would be gained, except ratings and pageviews for whatever station or Website first posted the video and pictures. It wouldn't bring back the grit and glam of Appetite For Destruction, it would just be two middle-aged guys trying not to kill one another on live television. There would be no grand re-ignition of the old fires, or an Appetite 2.
It's like this: Your parents are divorced. They got divorced for a reason. Dad cheated, maybe your mother cheated, someone liked to spend too much money and lie about it. They grew apart, things got violent. Whatever reason, your parents decided to end their exclusive domestic partnership. This station is no longer operational.
As much as you would want them to reunite, smile, hug, kiss, hold hands walking through grassy meadows together, it's not going to happen unless the stars align and it feels right to them. This is where we as fans are when it comes to bands that are broken up or estranged: Children of musical divorce, dreaming of the day when there will be a cryptic tweet or Web site update, alluding to a reunion.
Keep in mind that people grow apart. I maybe talk to my best friend from high school once a month on Facebook, and that works for us. In a perfect world, everyone would know each other in the same capacity forever and ever, amen. But that's not reality. Morrissey and Johnny Marr do not like each other, and will not reunite their band, even with millions of dollars on the table. Deal with it.
Van Halen works for me because well, I don't know. It just does. I always saw Van Hagar as totally separate beast than Roth's Van Halen, so the band hooking back up with Diamond Dave sans Michael Anthony seems fair enough. Plus, they made a great album upon their return.
Unless there is an emotional and artistic connection that gets reignited, you won't see a band reunion. Or shouldn't, if the group is in it for the right reasons.
Obviously, some musicians are easily swayed by a large check to reform for a few dates or festivals. Maybe even an album. That's a whole other topic for another blog: Greed. But that's their cross to bear at the end of the day, not the fans, who just get to shell out money for plane and concert tickets.
"Please, set aside your petty personal differences and come to an amicable financial compromise and play your hits languidly for crowds at $100 a head, spending $50 each on merch," you seem to be saying. The Police keep doing it, and people keep paying, for some reason.
As you grow up, you find that relationships and priorities change. If Fugazi doesn't feel the need to tour for your benefit, they shouldn't. Plus Ian would just bitch and cry about it the whole time, and he doesn't seem like the type who would do something he doesn't want to do.
It's kind of rotten of us as fans to get angry at people that we supposedly love for not doing our bidding. Sure we enjoy the music, but who are we get butt-hurt when the Gallagher Brothers don't want to reform Oasis? Let them be assholes for the rest of their lives, or reform in 1995 for the 20th anniversary of (What's The Story) Morning Glory, it doesn't matter either way.
Look, I love the Talking Heads. They may be in my Top 10 of all-time, and for sure a reunion would be fun for me and a million other people, but probably not for the band members themselves. I was born too late to see them at their prime. Shit happens. I still have the concert footage and records to feed my hunger. I have seen David Byrne live twice and he plays Heads songs and I was sated.
And did it ever occur to anyone that maybe you just had to be there at that time and history to witness a band live and up close to make it special? I would rather see the Rolling Stones on the Exile tour in 1972, rather than now, to be honest. But that's not possible. Yet, I guess.
This past week, Rolling Stone did a puff piece titled "Which Band Will Reunite Next? Placing Odds on 15 Groups, from Led Zeppelin to N'Sync," in which they handicapped the odds of groups like Pink Floyd, Genesis, and even R.E.M. among others, getting back on the hobby horse.
Really, R.E.M.? The band that broke last year in one of the most eloquent and dignified way imaginable? Leave Mike Stipe and the guys be. If you didn't see them for the 30 years they were on tour and active, then it sucks to be you. N'Sync? No one wanted them together in the first place, and now you are asking them get back together?
The Fugees? You want to pay $300 to hear The Score from front to back? Just download the album again and invest in a kick-ass home sound system. They made one great album, and they were out.
There is no way that a Replacements show with all living members would be as great as seeing them in their mid-'80s heyday, besides you would have to pay out the nose for a ticket to get in, and be surrounded by people who you would more than likely hate anyway.
Back to the JP reference way back twenty minutes ago when I began writing this blog: some bands aren't meant to be reunited. Some bands won't have the same weight in 2012 that they had in 1984. 1996, or even 2002. Don't bring them back, they may just take over your island and try to eat your grandkids and Jeff Goldblum.
If anything, and excuse the flowery dippiness of this, we should let the past be the past and embrace bands who are alive and kicking now, whatever age they are, and let bands that are in mothballs stay there if that's where they want to be.
(But seriously, David Bowie, would it kill you to do make some more music?)