Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Axl Rose Helped Me Find a Girlfriend

One of the great things of what I’m doing for a living is that writing inane prattle like this actually helps me on the job. They say that if you want to get started on writing, go do some writing. I’ve found this advice to be incredibly useful, especially to get my mojo flowing. Now that I’ve appeared to hit a bit of work-writer’s block, it’s time to write whatever it is that’s on my mind.

And that, my dear friends, is where our title comes in.

I honestly believe that Axl Rose, legendary frontman of ONE OF THE GREATEST BANDS EVER, helped me get into the relationship I’m currently in. We never met, I never emailed him for tips on dating (which, I imagine, would begin with “Step 1: Get her drunk."), nor did I win Lauren’s heart by serenading her with my rendition of “Paradise City”. No, this is way more unnecessarily convoluted than that.

I grew up listening to Guns n’ Roses, among many others. Back when my mind was still a musical tabula rasa, my older brother and his same-age cousin were raving all about them. They played them constantly on their cassette players (this was before those CD-doohickeys rendered them obsolete). Even though our parents frowned upon the band for their occasional use of colorful language, there was no stopping them. GNR was the pure, liberating power of rock and roll. Understandably, then, they became my early childhood definition of AWESOME.

As I got a little bit older, I’d learn that a few of my GNR favorite songs were “revivals” – our early term for covers – of popular songs from those mysterious years that came before I was born. “What is this blasphemy?” I thought to myself. Surely nothing this fantabulous existed when dull, boring, non-GNR-loving adults were young. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be so dull, boring and – worst of all – non-GNR-loving.

It stung to be proven wrong. My brother had made a mixtape for our road trips, and I was quite shocked to hear my dad singing along to “Live and Let Die”. He explained to us that it was remake of a popular song by some dude named Paul McCartney (Who the hell?) and a band called Wings (NOT Guns n’ Roses). I then went on to learn that “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” was another revival (Bob Dylan). This got me curious – what other songs out there were based on old music?

Turns out that two of my favorite songs at the time, Ugly Kid Joe’s “Cats in the Cradle” and Mr. Big’s “Wild World”, were written by the same man: Cat Stevens. I was young and all, but I knew from the lyrics of those songs that whoever this Cat person was, he was a good writer. And so I decided to give the originals a listen. I fell in love with them immediately.

Since then, I’ve been sampling the many tastes that retro music had to offer. I tripped out to Jimmy Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and worshipped Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”. I felt the pains of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and marched off in righteous indignation to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”. I even grew an appreciation for Elton John’s music from long before The Lion King made him relevant to my generation. No matter how good the songs were, though, I always had a soft spot for Cat Stevens and his genuine, folksy sound.

Fast-forward fifteen years later, and I’m a socially-inept 22 year-old virgin. I had just met this amazing girl named Lauren, but since I absolutely lack any serious game, my expectations are low. In one of our early dates, I ask her my fallback, hey-I’m-cool-enough-to-carry-a-conversation question – “What music do you listen to?”. She mentions, among other things, folksy music, the kind you find among certain Indie bands and dead 70s artists.

Folk? From the 70s? My inner douche was bumping my fist and proclaiming “SCORE!” at the top of his lungs. I knew right then and there that, aside from liking zombies, this unbelievably amazing girl and I would have a lot more in common.

It’d be a few more months and a sappy trip to La Union before it would occur to me to let her listen to some Cat Stevens. By then, we were blissfully in love, and discovered oodles of things we had in common. Sure, these things would have naturally come about in the course of our relationship, but music is a big thing to me. One of my most ideal romantic moments involves rocking out to the same music together and singing your lungs out to one of your favorite songs. The potential to do that with Lauren gave me a lot more confidence in a relationship with her. The rest is cheesy, mushy history.

And so, by great leaps in logic, that is how Axl Rose helped me get into my current state of happiness. For those of you who don’t want to put up with the length of my ramblings, here they are in flowchart form:

Axl Rose is the vocalist of Guns n’ Roses → GNR is AWESOME → GNR did covers → I got curious about covers → Learned about Cat Stevens → Learned to appreciate old music and 70s folk → Met Lauren → Learned Lauren likes folk → Gained confidence → ♥

Ah rambling… You bring out the incoherent sap in me.

And now, back to work.

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