Rock 'n' Roll after 40
I woke up this morning with a head on fire, ears ringing, and though my eyes weren't bloody, I still couldn't see so hot. My throat was raw, like I'd swallowed a cactus soaked in whiskey, my body felt like it had been run over by Gabourey Sidibe, and when the light crept around the edges of the heavy purple drapes of our bedroom, my throbbing head sank back to the pillow as I begged the gods for five more precious moments of sleep...
But I wasn't drunk or hungover. All I'd had to drink was a Diet Coke. And I was in bed well before midnight.
I was the victim of rock 'n' roll after 40.
The Wandering Jews are getting back together. Not that we ever broke up. It's just with day jobs, traveling, kids, and Pete French, regular practice is not possible. Or even enjoyable, really. It's hard work. Seriously. But we have a show coming up, a benefit fundraiser for Japan (May 5th, Red Devil Lounge. w/ Recliner), so last night we all got together and worked out our set, which we ran through a couple times. And for not having played together in five months or so (and with a new guitarist), we sounded pretty fucking good.
But it wiped my shit out.
I suppose I should be happy that I've finally found the sound I've been after since I started playing music, a little alt country, a little more Replacements, and a fuckton of Springsteen. I've got a terrific bassist (and proactive cat to get shit rolling), a guitarist who can actually play guitar (unlike me) with a pristine r 'n' r '80s twinge, a secret weapon keyboardist/backing vocalist who adds E Street without even knowing it, and the best drummer I've ever played with.
And let's start with this last bit. Best drummer. Loudest drummer.
Last time we played out, the sound guy stopped us after our first song.
"We've never had to do this before," he said over the PA. "But I've got to ask you to not hit so hard. You are the loudest drummer we've ever had."
And this wasn't a small club.
Pete French, our drummer, has been playing drums in the city since the '80s, some big bands, too. And he's fucking terrific. His Pieces of Lisa came close. But over 40 now, Pete can't hear for shit, been banging the drums so hard so long. Musicians have figured out to use ear plugs a lot these days. Not so much in the '80s. And it wouldn't help the guy now anyway.
And it causes a chain reaction. Drums so loud, Tom's bass has to go up, then there's that rumble, so Jarret's keys go up, and you can't drown out Raviv's guitar, and fuck, man, I'm the singer, so you know that shit's going up.
And you have what we had last night. Balls to the wall, rattle and roll.
"If it's too loud, you're too old."
I'm too old.
Not that I could walk away now if I wanted to. Once this rock 'n' roll gets in your blood, it's as bad as any drug. And that's regardless of how good you sound. And this is sounding good. Really good. After 20 odd years of suffering through shit, I finally have a band that sounds the way I want, the perfect mix of swagger and sneer, polish and power, Westerbergian wonder. And I ain't giving it up.
And I ain't wearing no earplugs, either. Like wearing a helmet on a motorcycle. Ain't doing it. I see those pussies on their stupid bicycles with their goofy little helmets, and I remember what my brother said to me once when I told him I was having a hard time seeing when I took the bike on the highway.
"We'll get you better glasses. Ain't no brother of mine wearing a goddam helmet on his motorcycle!"
(And, yes, I'd later crash. But it wasn't my head that was hurt.)
So we'll rock on.
Hope to see y'all May 5th. The FREE HOT DOGS have already been ordered!