I'm part of the MTV generation, which means from the moment I was born I not only heard rock and roll, I also saw it in all its glory. It was complete sensory inundation on multiple fronts, and with an attack that powerful there is just no defense against the tide of complete lies.
Music is an escape. I get that, and you won't hear any argument from me on the subject. However, years of overexposure have left me with a peculiar set of falsehoods about music and life that I am really just now unlearning.
So no matter how many times you hear these ideas in a tune or see them in a video or read them in a magazine, know that they are just not in any way true. They are merely the fantasies of rock stars designed to get you to buy their music or make themselves look cooler.
This is the first one you should immediately call bullshit on. How many songs have you heard extolling the idea that a certain level of celebrity somehow makes you immortal? One of my favorites is the Kinks' "Celluloid Heroes," a song about celebrity immortality that states right there in the lyrics that even famous people can be forgotten no matter how many stars on Hollywood Boulevard they have.
I realize it's a comforting idea to rock stars who fear their own decline in popularity or their own death, but in the end everyone needs to grow up about it. Even icons like Jim Morrison and Elvis will one day be forgotten. Yet musicians keep on cranking out a gospel of everlasting glory. It's not real, and we all need to get over it.
Remember the first time you saw Bret Michaels belting out "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" in that classic video? No man could write something like that without honest and sincere heartbreak to drive such a tune.
And you're right, Michaels did have a heartbreak. What happened? He was doing laundry one night, called his girlfriend Tracy Lewis and heard a male voice in the background. That's it.
Or take "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a song that defined a generation. It's literally about nothing. Kurt Cobain gave several different and contradictory inspirations over the years, and none of them make even the slightest bit of sense. The one that rings the truest is that he simply wanted to write a song that sounded kind of like the Pixies.
How about "Jumping Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones? Keith Richards said it was about his gardener. So let's be clear, geniuses pull this stuff out of their asses all the time.
In addition to immortality, the music industry likes to sell the idea of backstage as a combination orgy and Valhalla. There are the finest drinks, best foods, genius discussion, unfettered use of any substance and, of course, mountains of sex. For guys, getting backstage is all about knowing someone on the inside, but girls have a more universal method: Blow jobs.
First, don't believe the hype. Backstage is boring as fuck. It's hours of waiting for a brief moment of incredible adulation, then back to waiting. Most musicians drink and do drugs to relieve the monotony.
And if you want to get back to meet them, all you usually have to do is either ask or just walk back there. Sure, bouncers and doormen will occasionally stop you -- they're generally a sad lot with nothing better to do than ruin fun -- but if that fails, you can usually just meander onto the tour bus with little difficulty.
As a final warning...if a doorman or other obstacle says that the price of getting past him is oral sex, get your phone out and start filming. Tell that guy's manager. That's not the magic of showbiz, it's a perv abusing his modicum of power.
Of all the things that rock music must stop telling people, it's that the right to rock must somehow be preserved against those who would hamper us in pursuit of rocking.
Almost the entirety of the '70s and '80s were based exclusively on this idea. You can't stop rock and roll, rock and roll will never die, I wanna rock, etc. The theme made something of a comeback in the late '90s and '00s, but it was just as untrue then.
Folks, no one cares if you rock or not. No one cares what you're listening to unless it's at an ear-splitting volume that keeps them up when they're trying to sleep. Yes, there are people who dislike rock music, or metal, or goth, or punk enough to take to the streets with signs. Those people are idiots, and absolutely no one with any authority is listening to them.
Rock stars want you to feel that listening to their music makes you a special little snowflake that has to persevere against those who would deny it. It's you and them against the world...except only one of you shells out money in the deal.
So please, for me, when a band tries to enlist you in some vague army against a faceless enemy, ignore them. They're schmucks, and they know that making you feel oppressed is the best way to get you to obey.
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