The Fault in Our Rock Stars

The Fault in Our Rock Stars

 

Rock stardom isn’t compatible with satisfaction; it is, in essence, satisfaction’s very antithesis. To be a rock star is to revel in need, because it is the ongoing and relentless need of the audience that calls them into being.

 

 

Time has not been particularly kind to the guitar gods who ruled the pop firmament when I came of age. My musical tastes were fairly typical for a per-pubescent, middle-class white boy of the ’80s. That said, it’s still cringe-inducing to name the first album that I ever bought, a self-titled release by the glam metal band White snake. In the spring of 1987, their power ballad “Here I Go Again” was rattling radios everywhere, in malls and at roller rinks and pool parties—but I still wanted more.

 

This particular White snake album sold eight million copies in the United States, and so I can be sure that there are plenty of other people who shared my experience, although they’re smart enough to keep quiet about it now. Steeped in the hair metal  of its day, White snake’s album is musically sound, if predictable; it’s the lyrics, however, that make it truly special. The first song opens: “A black cat moans when he’s burning with a fever / a stray dog howls when he’s lonely in the night.” Two songs later we get this first verse: “In the still of the night / I hear the wolf howl, honey / sniffing around your door.” The second side of the album begins with “Give Me All of Your Loving.”

 

The hard rock scene was artistically bankrupt long before the arrival of a new sound and style out of Seattle in 1993. Grunge acts like Pearl Jam and Sound garden washed all the bands that I have mentioned out to sea. Most broke up; some went into hiding; a few stubbornly plugged on, playing small venues, signing at small record labels, and surviving mostly as nostalgia acts.
 

 

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