Welcome to Darkside Daily

When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Between A Rock And A Loud Place

There are few things on Earth more universally annoying than the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. To some, myself included, just the thought is enough to make them cringe. I have often wondered at this; what is it about this particular sound that annoys one and all? Is it some kind of ingrained genetic programming that has been in all humans since the dawn of time, unknown to us? Or, if one stretches the imagination, perhaps a highly developed early warning system? Yes, something along the lines of “if you hear this sound, the end of the world is just around the corner”. That would make the invention of the chalkboard the most important landmark in human history. Yes, I quite like that.

Next to the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard, a close second in my opinion would be the sound of a bad vocalist killing a good song; which is exactly what my ears are being subjected to right now. My old school is holding a talent show, and my younger brother and his friends have decided to perform. My bro is quite a talented guitarist, especially taking into consideration that he basically learnt it on his own. His friends aren’t half bad themselves; no Joe Satriani’s in the making but decent enough. However their vocalist is, to put it mildly, abysmal. His voice is about as pleasing to the ear as the last cries of a dying animal. His ability to sing is comparable to an unborn infant’s ability to play the viola. If he’s a singer, then I’m pregnant. Well, you get the idea.

However, due to lack of options, and the unhappy chance that he was the only person in their group of friends who couldn’t play an instrument, he was designated as lead vocalist. And since we’re the closest home to school, the boys come over and bless our ears with their sweet auditory assault. Day in and day out they practice yet the problem remains; nothing on Earth could fix his voice.

Resigned to the fact that I was probably going to lose my mind thanks to this abuse, I started to recollect all the other misguided rock star wannabe’s that I had heard through my years in college. I admit, not all of them were as bad as the specimen I described above; in fact some were quite decent singers, though probably not good ‘rockers’. Which brings me the question: why does everyone want to be a rock star? Oh by the way, it’s true; everyone DOES want to be a rock star. It seems to be the recent ‘in’ thing to be; so ‘in’ that it isn’t restricted to the boys anymore. Thank you Avril, thank you Amy Lee.

Most have heard the lyrics of the song “Rockstar” by Nickelback; if not, they go something like this: “Well we all just wanna be big rock stars, that live in hill-top castles driving 15 cars, the girls come easy and the drugs come cheap, we’ll all stay skinny ‘cos we just won’t eat”. Could it be the money, is this the reason? But somehow most of the so-called ‘rock stars’ I’ve come across don’t strike me as the type that are looking to make a life-long career of it. The girls? Well, perhaps in the movies, but to be honest most of the guys I’ve seen on stage have taken extra effort to look downright dirty, matted hair and shit-covered shorts with rubber slippers; you’d have to sing the girls into blindness to score.

There is something about being a rocker that seems to appeal to our male egos. The image of a renegade, a rebel against society and its values, a revolutionary that isn’t afraid to scream out what he’s feeling to anyone who’ll listen. The world of music is full of iconic rockers, from Bono to Black Sabbath, Lynnard Skynnard to Linkin Park, Led Zeppelin to Limp Bizkit, The Doors to The Killers. Each of these groups has a legion of followers that are as faithful to the band as the band members are unfaithful to their spouses. And who wouldn’t want to have that power? Who wouldn’t want to be able to lead hundreds, maybe thousands of fans into song; especially if those songs are penned by you, describing your views on life?

But there lies the problem. You see, not everyone has that gift; the ability to reach out and touch people with their songs, or, if their singing someone else’s songs, the ability to give a performance of sincerity. Being a rock star isn’t just about screaming into a mike and head-banging. Many rock songs, if stripped of their guitars and percussions, turn into pure poetry. Look at any Aerosmith song, U2, Audioslave; just a few examples that come to mind. Some of my personal favourites are Alter Bridge, and the Foo Fighters, especially their big single “Best of You”, off their Grammy award winning double album “In Your Honour”.

I’ve got another confession to make
I’m your fool
Everyone’s got their chains to break
Holding you
Were you born to resist?
Or be abused?
Is someone getting the best of you?
Or are you gone and on to someone new?
I needed somewhere to hang my head
Without your noose
You gave me something that I didn’t have
But had no use
I was too weak to give in
Too strong to lose
My heart is under arrest again
But I’ll break loose
My head is giving me life or death
But I can’t choose
I swear I’ll never give in
I refuse
Is someone getting the best of you?

Unfortunately, it looks like our wannabe rockers of today just want something to shout about. Some go to the extremes of pretending they really are these rebels, these people with a voice, these stars with something to say; when in reality they’re just ordinary folks, with ordinary lives, trying to be someone their not just so that they’d fit the mould of a rocker.

My advice to you all; there’s nothing wrong in being happy with your life. Just because the likes of 'Staind' and other bands have parental issues and want to kill their dads, doesn’t mean we need to feel the same way. Rock is about expression, rock is about feeling; if you have no feelings to express, well, you’re kinda screwed.

As for my little friend across the hall, attempting to belt out Breaking Benjamin’s “Sooner or Later”, he’s just an amateur; I’m sure the only reason he wanted to get on stage was to score. The way he's singing though, he’d have a better chance if he suddenly transformed into a green leprechaun; only a pot of gold could make the girls ignore that voice!

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