Wednesday, May 21, 2008

See How We Are

I seem to be in reunion mode Or maybe it's recycling. Last night, Jon and I went to see X again. I was tired and ready to skip it. But Jon said, "come on," and I'm so glad he did. I love that band, and they were on: Billy Zoom has gotten a little creepy, but he's still a punkabilly hero. John Doe, Exene. DJ Bonebrake in a Germs T-Shirt pounding the crap out of "Nausea." "The World's A Mess (It's In My Kiss)," "Johnny Hit-and-Run Pauline," a beautifully done "See How We Are" with just John Doe and Exene and an acoustic guitar. Perfect, and as timely as always.

It was better before before we voted for whats his name
this was supposed to be the new world...

But I can't see this band and not think of all the times past when their arch, searching music served as a soundtrack to my life, if not something more. Do we all do this? Is this just because I'm a fan, a former critic and sometime musician? Am I those things because for too long I lacked the language to express the emotions this music tapped into?

In this house that I call home
beautiful walls are closing in...

It's hard not to remember first hearing this band freshman year, finally away from home, in the company of my friend Mike (who will be coming to our reunion with his wonderful wife and children). How liberating this music was – X, the Clash, the Dead Kennedys – giving form to all the inchoate rage, grief, and confusion of those years.

she gets confused flying over the dateline
cause the days change to night, change in an instant...

To remember my junior year roommate who scrawled the lyrics to "We're Desperate" all over our refrigerator one night. She had her own issues, but in retrospect, I probably pushed her too far, confusing family issues (dead brother/family denial) with personal ones (a failed romance that laid me low).

No one is united
and all things are untied...

Then there was the guitarist in my band, roommate in a summer sublet, who tried to open his wrists the night before X played the Channel. He was confused, a former football player with his first crush on a man. I never made the show, crashing finally after a sleepless night of intervention.

Every other week we need a new address
landlord, landlord, landlord cleaning up the mess...

And then the happier memories: Re-meeting Jon, who had been a casual acquaintance, at one of the first X reunion shows. Playing "Los Angeles" for one of his close friends, a classical music critic (I don't think it took). And in years since, going to see the band just about every time they come through town.

I am the hungry wolf
and run endlessly with my mate...

X is now celebrating 31 years as a band (not counting for those years in between). Jon and I celebrate our 10th anniversary next week. I don't need the music in the same way anymore, but it sure was great to hear.

Sugarlight, we're addicts. Why do you think we're here?
Yeah, maybe.


Linda L. Richards said...

Wow, *this* certainly brings up some memories for me. I saw X in LA in maybe 1981 or 82. I think it would have been at The Troubador, but now I'm scratching my head. That was... er... a *couple* of concerts ago for me. Or so.

I can remember what I was wearing. It was ripped and angry looking. Green. There were boots involved. (There were always boots involved.) And I remember almost being swallowed in the mosh pit except, of course, we didn't call it a mosh pit in those days. Huh. Maybe they don't even call it that now. What the hell do I know?

An amazing concert, in any case. Thanks for reminding me.

Clea Simon said...

Glad to bring about this kind of flashback. As far as moshing: I don't know if it was a nod to the general age of the crowd or what, but on Tuesday, the Paradise had several signs posted warning "NO MOSHING OR STAGE DIVING! YOU WILL BE EVICTED! NO REFUNDS! KEEP BOTH FEET ON THE GROUND AND PLAY IT SAFE!"

Well, I danced, so I guess I disobeyed the letter of the law. But I don't think they really needed to worry as the average age was well above 30.

Linda L. Richards said...

I saw Joe Jackson in Vancouver a few weeks ago. Very fun. But there was a similar average age. The only people under 30 looked to be new wives. And you could see the explaining going on, "See honey, when I was *your* age..."

Jackson was wonderful. Of course. But then you know that. You've probably seen him a million times!

Clea Simon said...

A few! :)

Caroline said...

Oh God, what a great post. Oh ues, music is certainly the soundtrack to my life. I hear a certain song and I am catapulted back to a time so specific I can remember the smells and colors and everything. It's funny to pass a lot of the music we love to our son, Max--which takes on a whole different meaning for him.

And happy tenth!!!