Better before…

I have gotten older. NO, that is not earth shattering news, neither is it the most original way to start a blog post. I completely get the obvious reasons of how I know I have gotten older. I can’t get up off the floor (after sitting there eating hot dogs and watching the “Squidbillies”) as quickly. I turn the volume up on the radio and television (not because I like blast it for effect) because I can’t hear the damn thing. However, there are little things that strike you out of the blue, things that are so random or so nonobvious that it strikes you deep and hard. Pop culture and technology do not cause this effect on me generally. Music,on the other hand, does affect me with an “oldness” at times. It has nothing to do with the idea of not knowing new bands or songs; I was late hearing about Justin Bieber and his supposed fever. This does not make me feel old, this makes feel like mature. Here is what makes me feel old:

I no longer know if a band has “sold out” or not. I listen to music, I listen to a lot of music. My tastes have not necessarily matured…Lady Ga Ga is on my iPod. What I no longer possess is the ability to compare a musicians’ music to what was before. This blog is the result of seeing numerous Internet boards about “sell out” bands, and even though I knew 95% of the bands being so labeled…I had no idea the bands had sold out. Korn, Fall Out Boy, and Blink 187 doesn’t make me say the following “…better before…” I have no reference point, no historical moment where I believed these band were better before…

The cherub was smoking right there in Wal-Mart; it was Van Halen’s “1984.” At the time, and at first glance, I thought it was a small child smoking. I know my mom thought it was a small child (probably would now if you showed her the album cover today). My memory is fuzzy, but I think there was some chattering from parent and church groups about this cover art. When you went in Fayetteville, Tennessee’s “old” Wal-Mart (they have a Super Wal-Mart now…they’re uptown that way today) the albums and cassettes were to the left. I can still picture that album sitting there out in the aisle…it screamed “new music! new music!”…nothing is better than new music from one of your favorite bands.

Cherub’s smoking, or the idea behind VH’s “1984” cover isn’t what had me and my fellow 8th grade head bangers talking. The presence of synthesizers is what had us chattering. Certain things causes 8th graders and 40-year-old men to have enlightened discussions about the before and after. Bands and musicians, at least popular ones, usually have a certain album, or time, where their fans decide to stay or go (or, at least, to grudgingly listen). At minimum, these musicians do something that causes a fault line among their devout. VH’s use of synthesizers is one of those fault lines.

“Jump” and its synthesizers is still a great song and I fell into the “VH is still a badass band.” It took balls to put the synthesizer on that album. Remember, New Wave was the synthesizer sound and New Wave wasn’t badass…it was cool (to some…the ones who thought the weepy androgynous sound was cool…and yes Motley Crue was androgynous too…but they were WAY badass). So, by using synthesizers on “1984,” VH attempted to expand their sound (not much…I mean they were still singing about getting nookie) and this proved their badassness. Others felt VH had sold out; they were no longer cool…those “others” are wrong by the way.

A few years later the discussion of “better before” would rear its ugly head once more in reference to VH. Damn you Sammy Hagar. I like the Red Rocker and I even have that Pepsi commercial song on my iPod, but this isn’t badass VH. This is just another sorta long-haired rock group from that grey period at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of 1990s (this grey period is titled “right before Nirvana”). VH was better before David Lee Roth left…this is true.

Another significant discussion in the “better before” arena is…Metallica was/wasn’t better before they cut their hair. Now I have never really thought about how the collective Metallica can be a Samson and lose their badassness by cutting their hair, but I know a lot of people do. If cutting or losing hair is a sign of “no longer rocking it” then I am totally not rocking it. Some of you might remember that I once had a sweet bitchin’ flow. My bangs rocked to my chin, I had that whole head jerk motion down! In one quick nod I could remove my glorious (thick) bangs from my eyes. Now I cut my hair to stubble (male pattern baldness causes you to make an important decision…be a douchebag who uses Rograine or just cut your hair). On a related point, in 1984 David Lee Roth was showing signs of male pattern baldness.

Why is it a musical sin to mature? Are we mad that musicians develop and change? Does anyone get pissed at you when you move your life in a different direction? WTF people! VH (old and new members) and Metallica are bands whose members are older than me. If they didn’t mature I think I would just pity them. Nobody likes OLD immature dudes, those type of guys are the old drunks at bars that smell bad and sport trucker ball caps (with no irony).

We are mad at these bands for maturing or changing because it reminds us that life isn’t eternal and that we, too, will mature and age. We buy their albums, we go to their concerts (and drink so much vodka that we throw up in a paper bag that was on the floor of your cousins 87 Bronco…but Bon Jovi rocked!), we worship these bands…we want to be them (I still want to be Rob Halford of Judas Priest and I do know he is gay….get over it! That dude is fuckin’ BADASS). BUT we don’t want them to change…that seems unfair. I’m aware that life isn’t fair, but bands and musicians can mature and someone is going to buy their music.

I have sold out. I work for the man. I enjoy keeping others down. I have a good job and I pay taxes. I own a home. I go to bed (to READ) at 9pm. It’s life. I am old and I have no idea how the Offspring have sold out.


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