In the…Flesh (and Blood)

Day Three of the Challenge:  Poison’s Flesh and Blood

All-Time/ DAY THREE

Day three of the challenge: Poison’s Flesh and Blood. No, not literally. That would be creepy. It’s hard to define the ten most “favorite,” so sometimes this list verges on “most memorable.” I was 12. Yes, 12, when Mom took me for yet another CD purchase with explicit lyrics. Well, maybe there wasn’t a warning sticker yet, but there certainly was “adult” content. And yet, “Unskinny Bop” was a radio cut, fraught with sexual innuendos, so whatever. I had this adorable African-American friend named Nakesha (does anyone know what happened to her? I miss her laugh), and she was crushing hard on Bret Michaels. Me? Not so much. While I LOVED hair rock, my crushes were all Seattle—brooding, dark and hairy. We were listening to this album in my room, and I remember her loud and hysterical laughter at my analysis of “Unskinny Bop.”

Me: What the hell does that mean, anyway? If you were unskinny, that would mean you were fat, and to bop is to jiggle, and so, does that mean he likes full-figured women?

Nakesha: (Squeal, hand around abdomen, collapsing in theatrical laughter)

Me: (Pretending to jiggle around the room in an awkward, pseudo-sexy dance)

But really. That whole album. I used to put it in my CD Walkman. The opening track always felt like a supernatural night, like you could see UFOs or something. I was heavy into The X-Files and my friend, Susan, and I swore we saw UFOs from time to time.

There’s an untamed badassness to Bret and the Boys that just brings even the nicest of girls to a puddle of purgatory. There’s something about powdered faces and power chords that awakens the soul; and yet, so many people count this “hair-rock” as a “guilty pleasure.” Well, what an appropriate phrase. Men, almost in drag, yet effacing any negative sexual stereotype as the testosterone tickles the synapses.

This is the kind of music your soul just jumps up and down to. It’s no wonder that women sacrifice sweaty tees, spiraling them overhead at overcrowded concert venues…

But I digress. Sometime in my teenhood, I got my wish. I always said it would be amazing to wake up to “Let it Play,” waking to the chorus of a capella voices proclaiming that music must have its place, and entreating those in control of it to “let it play.” Mom got me a stereo with a wake timer that could be programmed to any track of any of the three discs loaded in the dock. I know, it seems archaic now, and I still miss that stereo that my moldy, college basement apartment murdered—but it was a luxury then, for music lovers like me.

But, as the Beatles proclaimed decades before, “Life Goes On.” This is a track that makes you feel just like you’re sitting next to a broken Bret on a colorful Ferris wheel, untouched by the lights and sounds below. Anyone with an aching heart can agree.

Though it was a radio hit, the best track on here is “Something to Believe In.” There’s a beauty in the diversity of hair-rock. When all the power chords take a smoke break, the serious nature slips in. I still can’t hear this song without getting chills or tears, or both. I have always adored church-choir backgrounds—the power behind the front man/woman, especially in a genre that somehow is deliciously “unholy.”

The music is so uplifting, the lyrics so abysmal. They whack you with the truth of Vietnam, homelessness, the imbalance in America’s class system—all with a gorgeous, tinkling piano, and a rising, hair-rock guitar solo. (Shiver.)

I think I could probably talk about this album all day, but it would be better if you’d go and check it out.

Thanks, as always, for listening to my musical musings…after all,It gives me something to believe in…

Rock On,

Rachael

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“It’s all part of my rock ‘n roll fantasy…”

“I had a dream the other night, you were in a bar in the corner on a chair…” (Temple of the Dog.)

Over the weekend, I had a dream that I met Eddie Vedder. I can count on one hand the number of Eddie/Pearl Jam-related dreams I’ve had in my entire life. I still remember the first one, in 1992, vividly. This most recent one, however, has really resonated with me.

A group of fans and I were perusing this basement pub, looking for the band. We passed by an open archway and went out into the night. But I held back, thinking they might be in the room beyond the yellow archway.

As I walked into the room, I saw Mike McCready sitting at a table with Matt Cameron. Next to them was Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament. Eddie had his back up against the wall, standing next to Kelly Curtis (their manager.) I kept my peripherals on Eddie but started speaking with Jeff about the bass.

“You were one of the reasons I started playing the bass,” I told him.

Just then, Kelly announced that the band had to leave. NO! I thought. I didn’t get to talk to Eddie (the same dread I felt when my chance to meet him was blown by a rude fan this past summer). But as I walked toward him, he embraced me. Two of his locks of hair got wedged between our cheeks and he said, “I love you. You’re my best friend.” Though it might have been “fan.” I used to say the latter version to my dear, sweet Snakes (cat) all the time.

As I pulled away, he tucked his hair behind his ear and looked at me with those amazing and bright eyes. (In June, his eyes caught mine and I don’t have to shut them to see him looking at me!) “Ten. Ten changed my life. I was ten when Ten came out. You–this whole…you guys made my life.”

I started to wake up. I clung desperately to sleep but it was no use. Once I’d awakened, I dove for my pen and paper to bleed the words into some sort of semi-permanence. This recent Pearl Jam Renaissance in my life couldn’t have come at a better and much-needed time. I feel like it’s leading me to a good version of my memoir.

Maybe some day I’ll meet them. I’d sure like to. I’d like to because, well,I won’t lie, it would totally make my life. But I personally want to thank them for every song, every word, every loud, stoplight sing along.

So, before I leave you with an incredible Mother Love Bone song, what is your “band of all time” and why?

Be well and rock on,

Rachael