Gaslight Anthem Pt. I
When I started playing rock 'n' roll in 1987, it was in response to a dearth of music that spoke to me. I had Springsteen, and I'd later discover the Replacements and Co., but as I've admitted, I wasn't on the cutting edge of cool. Nowhere close. There may've been ways to discover new quality music, but I didn't know where to look. If it wasn't on the radio, I was lost. And '80's radio was shit. Big hair and songs about VD. Winger. White Tiger. Whitesnake. Posion. Like anything else (vampire novels, anyone?), an industry gloms onto whatever trend is current and milks the fuck out of it. I am not disparaging the record industry or even publishing. People want to make money. I get that. If something sells, they will sell it. And as for "quality," there is a great deal of "emperor's new clothes" going on, but I'll save that for a later post. My point is, aside from the Boss, I didn't have much music to keep me going. (In my mopey moments, I had Pink Floyd, but at their hardest they can hardly be construed as "rock 'n' roll.")
By the time I discovered the Replacements, who would become everything to me, they band had, in effect, broken up. Bob Stinson was gone when I first heard "Alex Chilton." Never forget it. I was leaving work at the Hawthorne Inn and it came on the radio, and I was, like, "Fuck, what is that sound?!" Soon, too, Chris Mars, leaving the boys to limp through a final round of concerts in support of All Shook Down, which is, effectively, a Westerberg solo effort. But for as much I'd lean on the 'Mats, and even Springsteen, I always felt like I missed the boat. You have catalogues but there is something about riding the wave with the band, waiting for new albums, catching them live while you can still get close enough to smell the sweat.
I am older now. I'd sort of given up on finding "that band." Much like, as Bruce Jenkins writes sarcastically (in response to Andrew Luck not coming out for the 2011 NFL draft, thinking he could later return for his degree) in a recent Chronicle article, "Because there is nothing cooler than a 30-year-old guy hanging around on a college campus..." And I'd already done that. A 40-year-old guy bopping along to a bunch of 27-year-old kids from New Jersey is tantamount to that guy who makes up his own nickname, so it'd have to be a pretty goddamn special band.
The Gaslight Anthem is.