Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Comfort Music - Guns and Roses, a bicycle and me

Last night was cold and wet in the way that only a fall night can be. Rusty leaves danced on wind gusts and street lights reflected off the cold, wet asphalt. Walking home from the bus stop, I dug into my ipod and pulled out the only music that would feel right.

In the fall of '91, my family moved to a small town outside of Sarnia. Like any move, there was a lull time between moving in and when I truly felt I belonged, with friends and a social circle of sorts. That sounds so down, but it wasn't. What can I say? I'm reluctantly social, so it just takes longer.

Anyways, my early, pre-Sarnia, high school days were spent listening to a lot of metal - hair and otherwise. My friends were into Kiss and Poison and Skid Row - real progressive stuff - so it just came naturally that I would listen to it, as well. For me, it was Metallica and Guns N' Roses. Master of Puppets was the soundtrack that accompanied me to work at A&W. As for G'n'R, I had my unsuspecting grandmother bring me back Appetite for Destruction when she went on vacation to Arizona. I still know most of the lyrics to Lies, an album I'd taped off a friend of mine. (actually, that's not saying much. my mind is a wasteland of remembered lyrics, bad and good. for instance, I can still sing, word for word, a stupid radio jingle that played for a few months on AM radio in Sarnia - it's a curse more than a gift)

This was Barrie in the very early 90's. . . At a Catholic school, no less. People generally seemed to be into one of 3 things - top 40, rap and metal. For me, it was metal. To be fair, I knew one guy with better taste than that. He was the manager at the A&W. He gave me my first taste of industrial music, especially Ministry and Skinny Puppy, and regaled me with tales of going to Lollapalooza. But that was just some weird guy with strange tastes and the lone exception to the rule as far as I could tell.

Anyways, back to September of '91. G'n'R release their two Use Your Illusions discs and I buy them the day they come out. They became my soundtrack of the next couple of months. In the evening, I would often take my bicycle out for long, meandering trips around my new town. In my walkman, I switched back and forth between the two tapes. I would just do these long circles through the neighbourhoods and let my mind wander. The town was small enough that I could ride down the middle of the road with a walkman blaring and not have to worry about getting run over. The one horse in this one horse town had died of boredom years ago. The town hobo lied down on the railway tracks one day and starved to death.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

I played the two albums so often that, for me, some part of fall is tied to those songs, Slash's guitar and Axl's wailing. When the weather finally turns cold, I have to dig out the old songs and play them once or twice, if only to remember those days. So that's what I did last night and, guilty pleasure or not, it felt right.

Eventually, I got a life, got over my G'n'R fixation (for the most part) and expanded my horizons. My tastes actually became shaped more by a certain album that came out just a week after Illusions, a piece of music that opened up all kinds of new horizons for me, even if it did become massively overplayed. Anyways, nevermind. . .

1 comment:

Dale said...

Well ...? What was the piece?