Hermits Rock

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I firmly believe that the sole reason I hit puberty 18 months later than everybody else in my school is because my mom banned me from Guns N’ Roses. It was a total ban. Our house was a tiny frame structure, my room little more than a walled-off section of it. Even if I had money to buy cassettes, I couldn’t hide anything from her, so I didn’t try. By the time the embargo was lifted, GNR was releasing Use Your Illusion, and my attention was already elsewhere.

I might have tried to make up for lost testosterone this week but for the fact that GNR’s forever forthcoming album, Chinese Democracy, wasn’t released Tuesday as last December Axl promised it might. Instead, it appears to be more of the same: another 15 years, another $13 million:

To say the making of this album has been an unbearably long and incomprehensible journey would be an understatement. Overcoming the endless and seemingly insanity of the obstacles faced by all involved, not withstanding the emotional challenges endured by everyone: the fans, the band, our road crew and business team has at many times seemed for all like a bad dream where one wakes up only to find they are still in the nightmare and unfortunately this time it has been played out for over a decade in real life.

In the end it’s just an album and one that I, the band, our record company and all involved believe and feel is a true Guns N’ Roses album. Ultimately the public will decide and regardless of the outcome our hearts, lives and our passion has been put into this project every step of the way. If for no other reason we feel those elements alone merit your consideration. We do hope you can hold on just a bit longer and if not we hope you would please feel free to take a break and we’ll be more than glad (if you so choose) to see you again later.

The rest of the letter is full of griping about the record company and the tour management, all of it classic self-absorption touched by resignation and “November Rain” melodrama. I love that he says, “Ultimately the public will decide,” and then even invites the public not to decide when the time comes, leaving open the possibility the public will come back to him. It makes me want to whistle and moan, “Ooohhh, just a little patience!”

Fortunately, GNR fans are a dedicated bunch. On one forum the question was raised, “Why do you care about the album so much?”

When AFD came out 20 years ago GNR instantly became my favorite band. I was in the 5th grade then and they have never been out of that number 1 slot on my list. The music has always been key but for me the lyrics it was has meant so much. Songs like November Rain, Estranged, Rocket Queen, on and on and on. every single one of those songs reminds me of different times in my life and great memories. So looking forward to Chinese Democracy for me is not just the anticipation of what I know will be great music but also thinking about when and where i’m going to have that first Estranged moment when I hear lyrics like, “when I find all of the reasons, maybe i’ll find another way…”

Chinese Democracy, in other words, is the hope for angst-yet-to-come, its eventual release a reminder of the terror of being 14 and completely unsure where the world is going. Or, as another dude said, “I sure would love to drive my car this summer window rolled down blasting the album agree? Thought so.”

More broadly, dawgs, GNR is instant euphoria, a fact I’m afraid some of you might have forgotten. So in reminder, take a few minutes to watch this performance of “Civil War.” If the millions of fans don’t rock you, the fact that Patriot Axl wears nothing but white spandex shorts and a flag jacket will:

Finally, for good measure “Paradise City”: because there’s a referee’s whistle, and because it’s awesome.



i’m so glad you were finally able to get this off your chest.

I’m sad, though, that we have dialup, because that means you didn’t get to watch the videos!

unfortunately, i remember all of this stuff from the first time around—even given the adolescent, drug-induced haze i was operating under at the time.

maybe GNR was as influential as you suggest, after all!

Like I said, instant euphoria, dawg!

So the best line by far about Chinese Democracy is from Chuck Klosterman’s April Fool review of CD (which was repeated two weeks ago on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me): “If you purchased a kitten on the day that Use Your Illusion I & II arrived in stores, it’s probably dead by now.” Brilliance.

In fifth grade I joined the marching band and began my ascent through the ranks. By my senior year, I was section leader of 19 trombones. My band director was a very formal man with very traditional notions of what a marching band should be. We wore military uniforms and made amoeba-shapes on the field while we played nearly-classical music. I dated his daughter, and I loved the man. I loved him even more when he passed out the sheet music to “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

19 trombones can rock it.

Sadly, YouTube doesn’t seem to want me to see the videos.

My senior year of college, one of my housemates found an old GNR tape in his collection. The playing of it was rapidly banned by our other housemate, his girlfriend, so we only put it on when she was out. At the same time (it was like a mini-revival!), I was carrying on a brief e-mail exchange with a guy from my Milton class about “Paradise City” and Paradise Lost. My old housemates are no longer together, but the Milton class guy is now married to his then girlfriend, who is now the author of this book.

I’m not sure that any of the above is relevant, except that it amazes me that I can find John Milton and Axl Rose (and the author of the aforementioned book) in the same bibliographic database.

I stole my first copy of Appettite. My parents were house parents for a year at the Schultz Lewis chidlrens home near Chicago. They had confiscated Appettite from one of the kids that was under their care and put it into a closet in our apartment. I remember going into that closet and seeing this bucket full of cassettes. There was a copy of Meatloaf’s “Bat out of Hell”, some Slayer, some Motley Crue, and at the bottom there was Gun’s n Roses’ “Appettite for Destruction.” I vividly remember opening the case and pulling out the liner notes and giggling about how scandalous the art was. I stuck that cassette in my pocket and I have been warped ever since. Appettite was something special. It was infinitely better than anything I had ever heard at that time. While they certainly looked the part of the hair metal band their music was sooooo much better. Guns n Roses, which soon led to Metallica, started me down the long dark of being a Metal Head.

JRB, it was intriguing to think JDB had dated the band director’s daughter (I was on the verge imagining you both so much more exotically than ever before), but my fantasy was a lie, so I fixed the authorship of 6.

8: Stealing is cool.

7: I am sad too that you aren’t being allowed to watch the videos. If you can see them at youtube itself, they are here, and there. There’s actually a lot of sweet live GNR on YouTube…

And Milton might’ve been named Axl if he had been born in 1967.

JDB is pretty exotic but not quite that much, although she had a couple of roomies who came out while they matriculated at the Big State School. She has a way with the gay-folk.

I must mention that the GNR sheet music from our band director was handwritten. Rock on.

I praise the Maker for Kile’s stealing and metal days. Although I met him after his dark night of the soul, those years in Keller and Old Marrieds taught me to much cooler than I was before. When we first moved into together in Keller, I had a poster of Amy Grant, and he had a poster of Alice in Chains with a head on a pike, if I recall. It was poetic, and now I can rock a little.

I had a poster of Amy Grant

She has a way with the gay folk, indeed!