3 August 2011

I bought me an illusion and I put it on the wall (or, how Guns n' Roses changed my life)

As a young child I was exposed to the usual mix of children's songs (Wheels on the Bus), 80's pop hits (Locomotion) and mainstream rock (Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet was one of the first albums I can recall owning myself - on cassette of course).  There was also a lot of jazz and blues played in our house, which no doubt had some influence on my musical development; but more on that in a future post.

Then, at 8 years old, I heard Appetite for Destruction by Guns n' Roses for the first time and it completely changed the way I thought about music. 

Where before the music I'd listened to had been manufactured to be appealing but empty, solely to sell singles and make it to the top of the pop charts, now I could see that music could be different to that - it could be powerful, it could project real emotion and feeling and it could be raw and exciting.

For a while Appetite was the album to listen to amongst my group of friends and we thrashed more than one copy of the album to the dreaded tape snapping point, and stretched and warped many other copies.  Kids these days don't know how lucky they are that they'll never have to deal with the horror of hearing your favourite album suddenly stop mid song, then opening the tape deck to spend the next half an hour trying to unravel the tape from the inner workings of the machine before sellotaping it back together and hoping it would still sound alright.

Sure we still listened to mainstream music (and you could argue that as we were hearing Guns n' Roses on the teevee back then, they were pretty mainstream anyway, but I'm talking about pop music here).  We all got caught up in the Vanilla Ice hype, some of use even listened to New Kids On The Block (although none would admit owning any NKOTB albums now, even under torture).  But Appetite for Destruction was a starting point for us to begin looking beyond the charts for music; a realisation that there was more out there than we were being told. 

This isn't something that happens to everyone, hence the popularity of PR stars like Lady Gaga

Today, I tend to lean towards music that contains that same emotion within it, that bases itself on real human experience, not some idealised Hollywood version of it; to me this matters more than technical ability or production qualities.  Music should make a real connection with the listener and to do that it has to mean something to the artist.  It should make you feel something, or at least something more than the need to dance to another Garageband beat.

I still listen to, and enjoy, Appetite for Destruction (and to a lesser extent the Gunners albums that followed - and yes, I even listen to Chinese Democracy from time to time, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I like it.  Honest.).  For me, it still evokes those same feelings it did all those years ago, surely a sign of the power of music, and serves to remind me just why I got into music in such a big way.

Leave a comment and let me know what album has had the biggest impact on you or led you to the music you're into now.

1 comment:

  1. I was in a music store recently and saw this dad pull out a copy of appetite for destruction, show it to his son who was about 10, and say "this is one of the best albums ever made, I'm buying it for you." That was an awesome moment.