Sunday, April 13, 2008

Man, When I Think About Classic Rock I Think About Neal Schon

This veers off into territory unexpected somewhat. Just remember to be careful when you're on Anderson Road near Percy Priest Lake.


Now if we all know Sukie was a girl and she liked to hang out in the graveyard, then we should also know that all of my Riverdale High School memories revolve around the rock band Journey. They were already icons to me way before The Sopranos elevated the group to the pop culture zeitgeist firmament. My close personal friends, if there are any of those even left, are probably shaking their heads and muttering about me going on about how dinosaur rock wasn't that bad. They just can't reconcile how the first person to ever play them Black Flag also has a soft spot in his heart for beak nosed frontmen and white Afro wearing guitarists, not to mention former Babys members.

The reason is simple and it comes down to two things. School buses. I had to ride school buses and Journey were all over the radio my freshman and sophomore years. So their songs are sonically imprinted upon me. The ghastliness of "Open Arms" or "Faithfully" will suddenly spring up bubbling from my subconscious and the nightmare image of couples wearing identical Journey concert t-shirts flashes up. Because this is the second thing: the feathered hair Farrahs of my roller rink days all loved Journey. No amount of punk rock sneering could disguise the fact that if they had wanted you to take them to see Journey you would have done so gladly making sure to pack an extra Bic lighter for her so that when the house lights dimmed while the ballads echoed through Murphy Center she wouldn't feel left out of the flickering worship.

But I didn't ever see Journey in concert. I actually did and do like some of their uptempo songs and Neal Schon is a shredding guitar player. But really. I did once buy a Journey tape for a girl I liked and after she was killed in a car accident I've always wondered if there wasn't some connection. I'd hate for my final moments to be spent singing "when the lights go down on the city." Suffice it to say: I have a few hangups about the band.

So perhaps this is why I sent the following quasi fictional scenario to DD Blank after this article about wrinkled rock stars.

Circa 1983:

Hold those lighters in the air as the house lights dim and squeeze your lady tight while Steve Perry sings "Faithfully." You'll tell everybody tomorrow that "Stone In Love" was your favorite while others will say "Don't Stop Believing" hit the stratosphere when Neal Schon launched into a solo that would put his old employer Carlos Santana (what has that guy done lately) to shame. Then there will be that one weird girl in Basic Math that surprises everybody when she walks in wearing a Frontiers tour t-shirt and then claims she only likes Journey because of bass player Ross Valory's sexiness. The two people in class who've actually heard The Clash's first album snicker while the heavy metal kids won't admit to being at the concert even though they've kept the ticket stubs in their biker wallets that are chained to their jeans.

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