Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Yes, I'm going there
So, I guess this is what Axl Rose looks like today, if you were to be jogging in Malibu and run into the dreaded red head along the beach, or eating at Neptune's Net, where apparently he dines from time to time. I- am- somewhat unable to accept this, despite the freaky dreadlocks (old man rockstarstuff, it's all over Melrose, and hence it doesn't surprise me or disgust me as it seems to bother others who have recoiled at his, well, coils- it just shows he's out of touch and 46, it's all 'meh', to me) normal and human looking man as the Axl of my youth. This wild and angry effigy that we have here.
So, in a final act of fate or destiny or whatever you want to call it, I finished my essay the day Chinese Democracy was released. I closed the computer on my edits before I ship them off to the hack farm (actually, the very capable hands of Heidi Julavitz who I should be so lucky to have edit my work) And headed over to the Best Buy to grab my copy of Chinese Democracy. An album that's been in the works since I was in elementary school, I am now a graduate student and took four years off in college.
I was prepared to hate it, I wanted to throw it under my tire and roll over it a thousand times, cursing Axl's name, mourning the loss of Slash, Izzy, Duff and even poor, sad, pathetic Steven, languishing away at the Pasadena Recovery Center and being forced to cavort with Dr. Drew and other plastic celebrities.
To my surprise and delight, Chinese Democracy might be the most complex, rich, steeped in historical backmud album I'll ever have the opportunity to review in my time as a music journalist. In a way, it is a bit like being an American and experiencing Barack Obama's historic win, not that Chinese Democracy is in any way as monumental or important as Obama's victory, but in scope of rarity. When again will an album be allowed to simmer in it's creative juices for 17 years? Not again, that is for sure. This is the last dying gasp of classic rock, an era when your mom and dad bought albums, when the word 'concept' was used to describe records. Some might argue that Thom Yorke might attempt such rock star tom foolery, but mark my words, he will not have the backing of an entire record company behind him, if there are any record companies left in 17 years. It will be self released and on the Internet. This is the last piece of physical graffiti you and I will ever get to hold in our hands. Axl Rose is a dying concept himself. The last real balls out rockstar, who got to throw mammoth themed parties after every performance, who went on the road for three years to support one album and sold out every show. Axl Rose is a dinosaur, and part of me believes he released Chinese Democracy now because he sensed the tar was rising and the meteor was zooming in. He wanted to show all of us how great and powerful those lumbering and ferocious beasts could be. So we could look back on rock n roll and say, 'hey, remember Axl Rose?'. Remember rock n roll?
The album, is, transcendent. It is his swan song, it is his life's work. It is what he has been hearing in his head sense he ran out of Indiana, determined never to return. In heaven, Axl Rose and Brian Wilson will form a band, and it will only play the great hits, the ones only the truly insane can appreciate.