(“I know it’s tough, and you can never get enough of what you don’t really need…”--U2)
I always wanted to be more than this. When I was younger, my dreams were grandiose and shimmering, much more complex than the simple realm of “attainable.” Even though, some small way, I knew I’d never achieve them, there was always the delicious tang of possibility fluttering on my tongue…and it’s been that possibility that has driven me all these years.
I hate these moments of self-reflection…when I stand there and look in the mirror and wonder what’s become of my ever-increasing years; what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished and what I have yet to achieve. All of my life people have told me that my true purpose shouldn’t be about material things; it should be about making connections with people and holding on to the ones who love me…which leaves me in a unique predicament.
I guess some would say that I have made connections with millions of people. After all, fifteen million screaming fans can’t be wrong, right? And yet…while they connect with me, I don’t connect with them. I guess it would be wrong of me to say I give and give and give while all they do is take, but sometimes that’s what it feels like. And on the other hand, they stand there and offer me their money, their bodies, their self-image and self-respect, and I pocket it in my too-expensive pants and offer nothing more than an apologetic shrug on my way to the bank.
I shouldn’t be complaining, right? It’s what I signed up for. But…I don’t ever remember agreeing to the hidden “loneliness” clause, the one that says that while I have millions of fans, I will never feel secure in myself enough to trust any of them, and I’ll have to spend nights with my arms around a pillow. I saw the “privacy” clause, but not the “danger” contingency, the one that forces me to wake up in the middle of night, drenched in sweat, the memory of some sex-crazed stalker’s vacant look of adoration etched into my mind. I signed the contract with all its hidden agendas, yes, and I took the money…but…I wonder if I made the right decision.
I know I sound like a spoiled brat. I know that any one of a thousand hopeful dreamers would trade with me in a heartbeat…but…I’d like to talk with them five, six, seven years down the road…after the warranty runs out and the paint has chipped a little and the frames have bent on the rose-colored glasses, because I’m sure not all of them would jump so eagerly into my skin.
Rock fame is a strange beast, a fickle creature with a unique personality. I don’t quite know how to put my finger on it except to say it’s what I’ve always and never ever wanted for myself, and I both need and fear getting out of it.
Maybe I’m lucky. I have four others who know exactly what I’m going through, at least on one level. I know them inside and out, know their thoughts and fears and hopes and desires…which is why it hurts so much when I see them trying to distance themselves from me, just as I am from them. It’s not that I dislike them, no…I still prefer their company to anyone else’s, and not just because it provides a certain kind of comfort. People, I’ve noticed, cling to an “us versus them” mentality at every opportunity; our circumstances just give us a very unique view of that whole principle. It’s like when you’re working at a shitty job that pays fuck-all nothing, and you’ve got a boss who’s an asshole. You bitch and piss and moan with your coworkers, and your bond is stronger because you’ve got this giant crusade against Lou the fat bastard…or whatever his name might happen to be. Out of context, you’d know next to nothing about the people you go to work with everyday, but in this secure little pod of “employment,” they’re closer to you than anyone you’ve ever met in your entire life.
Kind of creepy, isn’t it?
This is why I don’t do self-reflection all that much.
I’ve been trying to move in a different direction recently…I’ve feared stagnancy ever since I was a little kid, even when I didn’t know what the hell “stagnancy” was. I was always looking for the next best thing, the newest horizon, a chance to see what else was coming down the pike. Now I feel like I’m stuck in a moment, and not just because U2 said so.
It’s funny how so many things are open for interpretation. Even that song itself—the one everyone used to sort of kick themselves forward when the world came crashing down—isn’t what it seems to be. It’s about suicide. It’s about Michael Hutchence. The damn fucking salve song that’s healed so many unsuspecting hearts was written about the death of a rock star.
I guess that’s what makes it so endearing to me. The whole “perception” part of the grand rock contract. (Lovely metaphor, isn’t it?) No matter what I do, who I chose to consort with, which choices I make…someone always sees it in a different light. When I go to charity functions, it’s about exposure and not about the dying four-year-old in the children’s ward of a cancer hospital. When I touch someone’s arm or smile into another’s eyes, it’s because I’m thinking dirty nasty thoughts about them, and later we’ll go home and fuck.
If I say it’s about the music, it’s really about the message. It always is. And therein lies the problem, because the message is about mutation.
I’m not one of those people who actively seeks for music to heal my soul. I believe it can—unconditionally—but I’m not one of these people who absolutely cannot take music at face value. I think that’s what’s got half of these critics foaming at the mouth. We’re playing at being serious, all tongue-in-cheek nudge-nudge, and they’re expecting us to be serious while refusing to take us seriously, and the reality is that NOBODY can be serious when they’re wearing tight pants and sparkly t-shirts.
But that’s another story. The point is, it bothers me that I can’t always play what I want and say what I want and do what I want because there are images to uphold and bigwigs to appease…and the fans, of course, get pissed because we’re trying to demand respect while keeping our ideas on a basic level.
I know, okay? I know that we don’t have much depth or breadth when it comes to lyrical content. I fucking know. And it isn’t because we aren’t capable of doing it, it’s because if we put a song about death or world hunger or depression on our album, half the teenage population would have to go on suicide watch. Better just throw them a pretty little ditty about unrequited love, and learn a snazzy dance routine to go with it. It’s easier that way, isn’t it?
Sure it is.
It’s not that I take my position for granted. Believe me, I know what I have. But I think that some people are just prone to gazing longingly at what they don’t have, even if it’s something they once threw away. I’ve always been restless. Always. And I don’t think that will ever fully leave me, no matter how many cars or houses or expensive trinkets I amass.
I always thought I would be more than this…no matter what this was. And I’m finally getting the chance to prove it.
Don’t hate me because I’m trying something new. Don’t hate me because I choose to disappear for months on end. Don’t hate me because I want to build a family of my own and try to create some sort of insulation from the world’s prying eyes. Don’t hate me because I’m unapologetic about my desires. Don’t hate me because I’m willing to express myself at the expense of my image.
Don’t hate me because I am me. I am so much more than this.
© 2002 ~A.