At what point do you just finally give up hope and realize something is never going to happen?
I fear I have finally reached that point with Guns N’ Roses ever releasing their 10-year-in-the-making album, Chinese Democracy. I probably should have given up hope after Slash, Duff McKagen and Matt Sorum all left the band and went on to form Slash’s Snake Pit, and, later, Velvet Revolver. The band was falling apart, and when it got down to just Axl Rose and an ever-rotating line-up of other musicians, it wasn’t even really Guns N’ Roses anymore, but just some band backing Axl’s enormous ego.
For some odd reason I’ve kept holding out hope for this mythical sixth album, kind of like those who look for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine: it’s become more about the dream than the actuality.
While I was into music since I first heard the Ramones sing “Rock N’ Roll High School” in the mid-70’s (yes, I was like 6-years-old), Guns N’ Roses first major album, Appetite For Destruction, made me go just a little nutso. I found the album extremely early in it’s life cycle, and I wore out three cassette copies of it driving around in my car; it was the only album I listened to for months on end. I even went to an Aerosmith concert in St. Louis (not the infamous St. Louis show, thankfully), a four-hour drive, just to see GN’R open for them, I was just that nuts for them At the height of their popularity, I was still crazy for them, and followed them all the way through their fifth album, “The Spaghetti Incident?”, and then it all fell apart as internal struggles in the band tore them apart.
That was 15-years ago, and around 1998 we started hearing that Axl had brought in all sorts of new members and was working on Chinese Democracy, and all the fans started waiting… and waiting… and waiting… and then, oh yeah, we waited some more. We’ve heard numerous “release dates” that come and go without nary of a sign of it actually showing up. It has gotten to the point of being so outrageously funny that Dr. Pepper, the soda company, has issued a challenge to Axl: release the album in 2008 and they’ll give a free can of soda to every one in the country.
Rumors now place production costs for the album to be in the range of $13 million, making it possibly the most expensive album ever made, and still there is no sign of it.
Why do I even bring this up? Because I was looking for news on it again, and, as always, coming up empty handed. I’ve heard a few tracks that will supposedly be on the album, and while they aren’t bad, I just don’t feel the passion for them I felt for previous outings. Essentially this is GN’R in name only, and it’s kinda sad. As I said, the band has rotated so many times that I can’t even tell you who is currently in the line-up, and in the old days that would have been unimaginable for me to not know every little factoid about this band.
There is no doubt my musical tastes have changed since their last album, which was bound to happen with maturity. I certainly never just sat around, not exploring music as I waited, but I’ve always kind of held on to GN’R for some reason, and Chinese Democracy has been talked about so much that it kept the band alive in a fashion for me. It was always there, giving me hope of one more shot at capturing that old feeling.
I think it’s not even so much I want the album at this point, I just have to admit that what was once so important to me is no more, and those days are long gone. It’s like saying “good-bye” to an old friend, like I’m letting a part of my childhood die off, and this dream, this never-ending project had become my last tenuous connection to that time period in my life. There are so many memories connected to early GN’R for me, so many nights of driving around, the windows down, singing “Paradise City” at the top of my lungs and probably annoying more than a few people.
I’m actually listening to a few random tracks from when the band was still intact (well, minus Steven Adler on drums, but Sorum was always a better drummer any ways) as I write this, and it is just time to accept it’s over, and move on. It was fun while it lasted, and it certainly doesn’t change who I am as a person, it just means I can finally totally move on and embrace all the great music that’s out there that maybe I didn’t give a shot before… like… Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute… hey, it could happen!