Image Map

Monday, April 10, 2017

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: Guns N' Roses- 'Sweet Child O' Mine'


She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky

Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I stared too long
I'd probably break down and cry

Late last year I moved to a new area and it has a bunch of antique shops right on the Main Street smack in the middle of town. I quickly realized that vinyl records were a pretty big deal here and I was thrilled. I've scoured my parents attic for my old record player and records with no luck (even though I'm sure they are there) so I decided to start collecting all over again. My mission has been to replace what I had as a kid and well, along the way I got a little obsessed. That obsession with old vinyl has rubbed off on my kids and they also can be found on the floor flipping through albums hoping to find a treasure. Once in awhile I'll order something online, but nothing beats actually finding what I'm looking for in an old stack of albums.

So Appetite was one of those that I had to order because in the last ten months I have only come across one copy and it was $50 bucks. The nostalgia part said to pull the trigger and buy it while the logical part of my brain reminded me that I could get it for $20 on Ebay, so the internet won. I was in 11th grade when GNR first burst on the scene with "Welcome To the Jungle"  and like everyone else, I bought their album pretty quickly and then carried it everywhere with me in my Walkman.  While  it was obviously the cool thing to be listening to, my reason for carrying it around with me was actually two-fold.

My mother was extremely religious and by the time I was in high school she made a regular habit out of invading my room while I was at school or work and throwing out anything at all that she didn't approve of. Music was a huge bone of contention in our house, with her throwing out albums if she didn't like the looks of a cover. Needless to say, Appetite, with its skulls and cross was never, ever going to make the cut. I would buy it with my own money from working at a fast food restaurant and she would throw it out within hours. If I forgot it, it was gone when I got home. I would have thought it was a game except that mom seriously thought that demons would infiltrate our home via a "debasing" record. I know that I replaced appetite at least five times in about an 18-month period.

I finally learned to get rid of the tape cases and would just carry cassettes with me at the bottom of my bag. During this time I was working open til close at a fast food restaurant just about every night and loved it because of the people that I was working with. My friend Nick was the fry cook that I usually closed with and I loved him. No really, I loved him. We were thick as thieves and had just about everything in common.  He would eventually move on to attend art school in Philly and then head for the west coast where he is very successful to this day.

Anyway, Nick and I had the same sense of humor and I found out the first night closing that once the doors were locked the boom box was cranked all the way up. Nick sang for a local band and did a damn good impersonation of Axl Rose. He would grab the mic that we used to call back orders (no head sets back then) and would sing entire songs into it. Yeah, loved him  probably that very first night.

Way back in 1988 if there was nothing to do then you would spend your Friday and Saturday nights walking in circles at the mall. Well actually we would congregate until the rent-a-cop would come and tell us to "move along" and then this huge group of kids would move in slow motion to the opposite end of the mall. I had friends from several different schools and the mall was where everyone met up. The bathrooms were just a big cloud of hairspray that hung permanently in the air because everyone in front of the mirrors was spraying something to make sure that the wall on top of their head wouldn't budge even an inch.

There was also a club that had shows one night a week for an all ages crowd. If we were really lucky and could find a ride we would leave the mall, go to the club and then be back at the Burger King where parents would pick everyone up at between 11 and 12, without them ever knowing. Nick was singing with a band and he really was pretty great so you better believe I went every time I had a chance. Probably with my cassettes safely at the bottom of my purse. He was also in high school, one across the city from me and spent quite awhile debating whether or not to sign up for his school's talent show. I mean he seemed to flip flop for months to the point that it became annoying.

Finally one night Nick came in to work and told us that he had signed up. His concern was that he had to put together a band of classmates and he had worried about pulling that off. Eventually he and three guys started playing together and realized that they could actually pull it off. The song? Guns N Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine". Well, in my mind that was just a done deal. I knew that he could vocally kill it and I also knew he wouldn't set foot onstage with people that couldn't play so not only would they perform, but winning was a no-brainer.

Nick and the guys were so excited because as they saw it, this was their chance, this was their thing. The jocks had football and the diehard academics had a chance every single school day to prove that they were good at something. This one was for the creative kids. The art nerds and musicians in training that really did have something to prove. It was their chance to show up and make sure everyone in attendance knew that they could actually be the best at something. It was huge, really huge.

Every kid that classified themselves as a "headbanger" pretty much citywide was looking forward to this show because once word spread, well Nick was kind of representing us all. The night of the show finally rolled around and I remember having to walk there with my friend. We walked from the other side of the city and got there pretty early. Honestly, I can't tell you any details from the early part of the night or any performance before Nick's. That is all a blur because I was so excited. I remember the feeling in the auditorium was electric. It was that excitement you feel when you know that someone was about to show up and totally kill it. That excitement mixed in with a calm knowledge that they've absolutely got this.

Nick and his friends did indeed kill it. The whole place was on their feet and for about four-and-a-half minutes no one could deny just how talented this crew was. The teachers looked thrilled because I think everyone got what a big victory for the underdog this was. There was one act left, a group of jocks that were going to sing something and no one thought much of it. They played football, basketball, whatever and weren't known for being the least bit musical so it felt like their performance was more obligatory than anything else. They called themselves Mosquito Coast (I probably remember it because it still makes no sense to me) and when they took the stage Nick was already sitting on the floor in front of our row of seats, waiting for them to bomb.

But fail they didn't. Instead these guys pulled out a 6 minute rendition of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" that was absolutely gorgeous. Like, it was so good that I couldn't even try to say that they sucked  to Nick in attempt to make him feel better, because they were amazing and everyone knew it. By the end of the chorus our whole section was crying because we knew that it was all over. The jocks won this round of high school life too and it was fair and square. It came down to a matter of preference and if the harmony didn't do it then the solo guitar riff sure as hell sealed it.

I don't think any of us entertained the idea of Nick losing until he actually did. I think I was actually heartbroken for him for days. He actually skipped a few nights of work and didn't return phone calls at all. I was contemplating going to his house to check on him but being 16 and light years away from being the ballsy chick that eventually grew up to become, I squashed that idea completely. Nick eventually did come back to work and you better believed he grabbed the mic at the register once the doors were locked. This time, instead of singing a popular hairband song he belted out a stunning, sedate verse from "Comfortably Numb". Eventually that song (guitar riff and all) was worked into his bands regular setlist. What felt like defeat ended up motivating Nick toward some ,major musical growth.

Every time I crack out Appetite I think of Nick, without fail. He was my own personal Axl for a few years and I have nothing but great memories connected to him because even the tough moments eventually turned into something positive and precious. As for my new, old album- this might be the 7th or 8th time I have actually bought it, it's likely to be the last. That too seems like a bit of a victory for an underdog.


No comments:

Post a Comment