Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Non-Christmasy Post

So - in lieu of a happy, cheery Christmas post - wishing you and yours some saccharine greeting... I've decided to wax nostalgic.

So - three weeks ago, I called up my brothers Richie and Phil because I saw, in one of the advertising sidebars of my Facebook page, that The Sisters of Mercy was touring. And, by sheer luck, they were coming to Cleveland like a week later.

Doctor Zombie, being the old school Goth that he is, could not pass up the chance to see Ian Eldritch and whoever else he was playing with. I LOVE The Sisters of Mercy. It is one of my favorite old school Goth bands of all time. And Richie and Phil feel the same. We grew up listening to Temple of Love and Vision Thing and, best of all, Floodland.

Floodland is one of those albums - like the Cure's Disintegration - that is an essential part of my life. They were both life changing when I first heard them and I still listen to them today.

So we went to Cleveland's House of Blues, had some dinner, and then made our way over to the theater... to find ourselves in an empty room. Seriously. After a few beers, and after the opening band started playing, a few more people filtered in. By the time The Sisters of Mercy finally started playing, there were probably two or three dozen people total.

Which I find amazing. Even allowing for my obvious bias towards the band... I was honestly shocked that there weren't more people. Sisters of Mercy, in my mind, is on par with The Cure, or Bauhaus, or any of the other influential and formative alternative Goth bands from the 80's. I was almost embarrassed for Cleveland.

The show itself was fucking awesome. Ian, who's now bald, still has a weird affinity for big Highway Patrol cop sunglasses, but he sounds as good live as he does on the albums. He did go a bit overboard with the fog machines (there were times where the entire stage and band was obscured by fog) and, for some unknown reason, they left the house lights up throughout the show.

But the concert was incidental... at least to why I'm writing this. I'm writing this because I realize that my love for 80's Goth bands is one more sign that I'm getting old. I turned 38 twelve days ago... and I'm in a weird place as a result. There are times when I still feel like I'm in my 20's, and then there are times when I'm struck by the fact that I'm middle aged. I got that feeling at the concert. There I was, in a room full of old people; some of them still firmly believing that it's 1985 and dressing like it. Yikes! Thank the dark gods that I at least dress my age - besides a predilection for black clothing and horror movie themed t-shirts.

But the point is... have I become like my father?

My father only listens to the classic rock stations and, sometime back in the 8o's, stopped listening to new music. I love that he gave me an appreciation for classic music. Mrs. Zombie is amazed that, while she was listening to 50's and 60's music with her parents; my musical education included Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, The Moody Blues, and Ted Nugent.

And - here's where my father frustrates me - he doesn't believe that Pink Floyd made anything worthwhile after The Wall.

That's where my fear lies. That I've reached an age where anything new is alien and foreign; something to be avoided and shunned.

I do make a point of listening to more modern music. I love some of the new bands out there and have enough self respect to make sure I stay up to date... but I'm also noticing an inflexibility to my tastes. I've always been a music snob with an abhorrence of the soullessness of Pop music. And country music is just as bad. But I also find myself now dismissing nu-metal's rap, and despising Emo-rock.

And the aches and pains I feel now weren't there even a mere five years ago.

For instance... back in my middle twenties, I had an incident occur that may or may not have involved a pickup truck going at least 30 miles an hour, a not insubstantial amount of Guinness and Irish whiskey, and the misguided notion that I could successfully jump and roll harmlessly to the frozen February ground from said moving vehicle. My attempts to act like an action hero resulted in my tearing all of the ligaments, and severely damaging the joint, in my left ankle. Being young and stupid, I killed my pain with more Guinness and Irish whiskey, did a few months of rehab, and then, in April, through-hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail.

Now though, especially considering the bitter cold we've been experiencing here in northern Ohio of late, my ankle has been constantly throbbing. I suspect there may be some rheumatism setting in.

Is this the way I'm going to go out? Old and unable to walk, while my children roll their eyes behind my wrinkled back as they have to suffer - once again - through Robert Smith and the Cure's Disintegration, when they'd just rather be listening to Rihanna on Q104?

And Facebook hasn't helped. I enjoy the social networking aspects, but I don't need to be reminded of my mortality by being contacted by people who I haven't talked to since high school or college. Just this week, I've been contacted by several college friends and a few high school friends. Nothing like seeing ex-girlfriends or college drinking buddies to make you feel the years... and make one wax nostalgic about the halcyon days of college. Those days when The Sisters of Mercy was new and I was cool and I had my whole life stretched before me like a storm cloud.

To make it worse, I got an email on one of my best of Doctor Zombie posts a few weeks ago. I had written about The Cure and how, as I'm sure everyone's experienced certain songs transport you back to certain times of your life. The post was about my old college house, and my friends I lived with. A poster named FilliaDei made me reread it again and I felt that bittersweet swell of nostalgia all over.

Oddly enough, maybe this post IS about Christmas. Is this the depression that they talk about? The depression that many suffer at Christmas?

I don't know. Either way, I'm old. And I feel it.

So... to give some closure to this maudlin and rambling post... here's a couple old videos of The Sisters of Mercy from a time when I was younger and less cynical and bitter.

Please don't mind the cheesy 80's hair and video conventions. Listen for the music because - as I said - The Sisters of Mercy (or more specifically - Ian Eldridge) are musical geniuses.

May your Yule be Crampas free, dear and constant reader....

1 comment:

pchak said...

Yeah, I guess Reality sucks. We listen to the retro station on Sirius in the car, and I hear some songs that make me feel nostalgic. I'm afraid the same things about having a soft spot for 80's music. Is this any different than the Classic Rock people that I deride? C'mon people, there was a Hell of a lot more interesting music written after 1978. I will admit that I fell into the disco trap-not that I abandoned the Blue Oyster Cult, Genesis, and Alex Harvey, etc. that I loved. I was just looking for something else. As disco imploded into self-induced stupidity, the 80's arrived, and provided so much diversity. While I was liked The Cure, Ministry and Depeche Mode (Zymox, Nitzer Ebb also), I still liked more energetic club stuff, like Joy Division/New Order,Happy Mondays ( the Pistols and Ramones), since I d.j'd through all of the 80's (and 90's) (and yes I admit that I'm a sucker for Duran Duran-I think that's why Shell likes me). Listening-wise, I loved (and still love) ska. It's amazing that the genre keeps making a comeback. There were a ton of other bands that I liked, naturally since I had to play a lot of different stuff. Goth was a part of it, and was always a cool "filler", and a Hell of a lot better than having to play a bunch of dopey hip hop songs.

I try and rationalize that my soft spot for the 80's is tempered for my liking of newer music as well. Unfortunately, most of the stuff I like rarely makes it onto 92.3, unless it's 3-4 months old, and I'm played out on it. Sirius makes a compelling case of paying for radio (when our free subscription runs out).

Oh well. I certainly identify with your post.