I was in 8th grade when I fell in love for the first time. I remember it like it was yesterday. My love of emo, pop-punk bands had expanded to every kind of music genre imaginable (not country, of course) and I soon found myself buying, downloading, and in search for anything that would make me a reputable music snob. And then I found Guns N’ Roses and everything changed.
Like I do with any pop culture obsession I’ve ever developed, it all began with a simple curiosity, a quick Google search, and finding the thing I could connect with. The curiosity: I wonder what the guy who sings “Welcome to the Jungle” looks like? Because he’s got to be insane. The Google search: They seem legit! My, that singer man is hot. (A sub Google search would reveal that present day man has lost a little of that luster.) The connection: These dudes are pissed off, dirty, and loud. They are everything my mother has ever warned my against; I must love them from this moment on until forever.
Although my initial attraction to the group was mainly based on Axl Rose’s beauty and being able to say I knew who Slash was, I quickly became engrossed in the band’s short-lived reign on my already obsessed about collection of 80s hair-metal music. I bought all their albums, tracked down every single, even forced myself to listen to “Chinese Democracy” a time or two all because, well, that’s what you do when you’re in love. You learn all the words to “You Could Be Mine” and your mom takes your iPod away.
And yes, I know. I certainly couldn’t connect to the band’s life of hard drugs, trashing hotel rooms, and larger than life feuding. Besides, every band has that written in their rule book. (We all read that 5 Seconds of Summer Rolling Stone cover story, right?)
Falling in love with Guns N’ Roses was more than just liking some band. It solidified my favorite genre of music, my understanding of the power of music, that deep connection people talk about when finding meaning in a band’s lyrics, and, most importantly, it made me realize I wanted to be different.
I have always been, by definition, a “good girl.” And no amount of Axl Rose posters (I have two) can ever change that. I’m a people pleaser. I like to do a good job. I take pride in following the rules and being praised for it. I was not supposed to be a cool person by design, and I don’t think I am now or ever will be, but Guns N’ Roses helped me construct my personal kind of cool. Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy, and Steven were slowly shaping me into a real person.
GN’R forced me to become an individual. I suddenly had likes and dislikes. I formed opinions. I started watching movies made before I was born and staying up late to watch things like “Saturday Night Live.” I no longer had to pretend that I liked Katy Perry or Rihanna. I became interested in actually reading the news and literary works not written by J.K. Rowling. I started writing and realized I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to understand politics and know the things they were talking about on albums like “GN’R Lies.”
Somehow, this strange bond I had formed with a band that broke up when I was two had transformed me into the girl that was well-read and could understand the shaping of American popular culture. They forced me to challenge myself in a way I would have never been able to do on my own. I think they may have even made me grow up a little faster than other kids around me. With them, I was able to find my voice and take on my own cool persona. And they reminded me everyday that it was boring to be like everyone else and to never apologize for wanting to just be yourself.
That bond and understanding wasn’t just something I turned to in high school when life seemed at its absolute worst. I listened to GN’R when I was happy. I listened to them when I was sad. I listened to them when I did bad on a test. I listened to them when I got into the college I wanted to go to. I listened to them when my boyfriend broke up with me. I listened to them when I had to endure being a freshman in college. I listened to them when I was drunk alone in my room. I listened to them during capstone when I thought I was going to option out of college than spend another minute pretending school was of any use to me anymore. I listened to them when I graduated and spent months looking for a job. I listened to them when I did find a job. And I listen to them now when I have bills to pay, friends to keep in touch with, and when I miss my mom telling me to turn the music down.
So, as you’ve probably already guessed, I’ve been
hoping praying for the original Guns N’ Roses lineup to get over their differences and perform together once again. With their announcement that Axl, Slash, and Duff (and maybe more originals still to come) will play as Guns N’ Roses for the first time in 23 years at Coachella with a probable reunion stadium tour in the works, my heart is full. I never thought I’d live to see Axl and Slash stand on a stage together. And sure, they probably all need money and that’s a key motivation for them to reunite, but I do not care.
This is the band that changed my entire way of being. I hope they know just how important they are to their fans.