Monday, August 20, 2018

8. The Quest For Cool

I have to admit, painful as it is, that I have done things that I am not proud of (involving music purchases. Get your minds out of the gutter). The biggest and most egregious that I can think of is giving into peer pressure and attempting to be “cool”. I have learned since that it is not worth it, and that no matter what I do or how hard I try, I will never be “cool”. But, I was in the seventh grade and at a point when I was trying so hard to fit in. Two of the biggest albums in 1986 were Whitesnake’s self-titled seventh album (I hate when bands release a self-titled album after they have a back catalog). The other was Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet. It appeared to me at that time, in order to be cool, one must actually own these albums. So, I asked for them for Christmas (yes, in hindsight, I wasted two perfectly good gift slots on these two albums).

I had already gotten albums from Columbia House records, which was that mail-order company that sold eight, twelve, or seventy albums for a penny. These two albums were not on the “for a penny” list (most of the records on that list were falling in popularity and they had to clear them out to make room for Bon Jovi and Whitesnake). When the Columbia House catalog came in, the prices for these albums were just north of outrageous (usually $12.95 plus shipping and handling) and I was not using my allowance to pay for one album. I could go to Disc Connection and get lots of good albums for cheap. Unfortunately for me, the two albums that I was seeking to make me cool were too new to be in the used section.

Finally, Christmas vacation came, and then Christmas Day, and I got my albums. I was finally, for that short time, “cool”. I listened to them and, frankly, I only remember the hits. There was nothing else on either of these albums that stuck out to me. They were pretty bland. “Here I Go Again” was an okay song at the time, but the half-assed guitar solo ruined the whole song (there’s this choppy progression in the middle of the solo that just takes me out of it…I could go on for hours about that ham-fisted, amateurish thing that was supposed to be a guitar solo, but I won’t…makes Paul Stanley look like a virtuoso…sorry, I’ll stop).

Christmas vacation ended and I was back to school and ready to unleash my new “cool”. “I got Whitesnake and Slippery When Wet,” I said.

“Oh, sorry, Bon Jovi is no longer cool,” I was told. Luckily, I was unable to remember what anybody thought the new cool band was. I decided from that point on, I was the only person allowed to dictate my musical tastes. If I liked a song, I liked it, and if I didn’t, well, it didn’t make it into to my record crate.

The moral of the story is: Bon Jovi sucks and so does Whitesnake. Neither of those albums ever made it to a mixtape or into my CD collection and I also have not listened to them on Google Play because they are not worth my time. Life’s too short for shitty guitar solos.

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