I used to be in a band. It was one of the most memorable periods of my life. I have a book in my mind titled "The Greatest Band Never Heard." I lived 3 three years of my life in Fargo, North Dakota from 1988 to 1991 and crammed more memories and stories into those three short years than the following decade and a half. There were many girlfriends, wild sex, drugs, band practices, band fights, drinking, writing, and working odd jobs for little pay. It was a glorious time of youth and I think anyone who witnessed a show (and there weren't many who did) observed three young men with chips on their shoulders ready to take on the whole world. We took shit from no one. When they pulled the plug on us (and bar owners always pulled th plug on us in Fargo, when they forgot who we were) we stayed on stage staring out across the bar. "You gonna let us play or what?"... "Jesus fucking Christ, What's the matter with this town?"
"Turn it down and you can play," Kirby, the bar owner, would shout from the back.
The bass player and I would walk back to our amps and crank em all the way up. The electricity would turn back on and feedback would immediately wail from the amps and we'd launch back into the song at an even greater decibels until the electricity would be cut back off again and we'd launch into another profanity filled tirade. None of this won us any respect at the time. We'd carry out our amps, guitars, drums and equipment amidst threats from Kirby that we'd never play there again. Luckily he had a short memory. But, years later we'd hear from people who were there, or even weirder still, underage kids who used to sit outside the bar and listen through the doors, then watch us as we loaded up our equipment, cursing and drinking beer as our breaths emitted frost in the cold night air. They later went on to form bands of their own that eventually created a scene in Fargo that the bar owners tapped into.
Years later, I have a job. I am awaiting a promotion while waiting word from another agency on a job offer. My fellow band member from those many years ago has a job in the computer world making three figures while our drummer still toils away in NYC - reliving our dream/nightmare. We grow up and dreams die. Eventually we take shit quite readily and get laid a whole lot less. Not sure why, but it just happens. we get old and then we become embarrassing - like Shaq these days in Miami.
My friend in the computer business has gotten the bug again and an opportunity to play with another aging musician to go out on the road again. He wants something more in life that we can't get at our mundane jobs. He wants to recapture some of that feeling of rock stardom and ass-kicking take no shit from anybody. I went to their first show a couple of weeks ago. I knew they would be good, because their good musicians. But, there was a part of me that was nervous it would be a little embarrassing, like watching Mick at the Superbowl half-time show a coupel of years ago swing his 60 something year old hips like a 16 year old girl. But, they surprised me. They rocked. They kicked ass. They said Fuck You to the world much better than most 19 year old adolescents can say it, because they could say it with a whole lot more history and mean it. That was Punk rock. I almost quit my job the following morning when my boos said good morning to me. But, I soon fell back into my routine.
We age. We get safe. We grow bored and we cease following youthful dreams. Hey, my friend and his band know that it is inevitable - that eventually they will embarrass themselves. There is just nothing redeeming about saying "fuck you" right up until you step in your grave. Eventually you got to make peace. But, that doesn't mean you have to take any shit. Somewhere there has to be a middle ground. Its out there somewhere near some dreams.
Maybe I should dust off my old guitar...