If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Do It


I've seen a few old school, rock star types complaining recently about the current state of Rock music. From the quality of the music, all the way down to the work ethic, some of these guys are definitely waving their fists and screaming for you damn kids to get off their lawn. This happens every ten years or so, the older generation laments the passing of “the good ol' days” and one or two others from the old school jump up and say, “No, everything's great!” all to the delight of music journalists virtually everywhere.

Without crotchety, old windbags from the overblown, overrated Rock bands of yesteryear, some websites wouldn't have anything to write about; rather, some mouths wouldn't have anything to blabber on about day after day. So, they find some old jackass from a band no one has given a shit about in 20 years to ask them, “what do you think about all these new bands?” in the hopes that they say something sensational enough to draw attention to their site. More often than not, it works; after all, people love gossip.

So here we are, getting shown a headline that inspires a hundred or so idiots to throw their two cents into the comments section without reading the article; names are called, butts are hurt, and no one's life is enriched at all. Well, except the advertisers. The advertisers are very happy when people get upset over a washed-up guitar player spouting racial epithets in reference to popular music. They love when “madmen” turned Uber-Republicans put down their hunting bows long enough to say something else stupid. Controversy equals clicks.

I stopped reading all that stuff for the most part, though I do admit to occasionally letting curiosity get the best of me, but rarely do I find the time I took to read these articles to be time well spent. Why should we care that a bitter, old racist from a horribly mediocre Glam Metal band thinks Rap music is garbage? Why does the opinion of an admittedly greedy asshole from the world's most famous gimmick band matter? How many more articles equating to: “Hey, remember that one band from the 80s? Their guitar player thinks your band has it easy!” do we really need?

Here's the thing about that last statement though, newer bands don't have it easy at all, just easier access to decent equipment. Wait, let me clarify that, they have easier access assuming that they have a decent job and enough disposable income to purchase said equipment. Yeah, you can make a pretty decent-sounding album on your laptop or tablet, but if you're twenty-two, working for minimum wage and paying off a student loan, you've probably already pawned that tablet. Assuming you even had one in the first place.

Assumptions are quite a bastard. Some people assume all Americans are gun-toting, four-wheel-drive-truck-driving, Duck Dynasty clones making more money than they know what to do with, but there are plenty of us who are broke and find all the aforementioned things repugnant. In fact, there are Southerners with no college education who use words like “repugnant” and “aforementioned” without even having to look up what they mean or how to spell them! “WHAT?! You mean, life is different than what's portrayed in media?!”

When I see some rock star who hasn't parked his own car since 1989 tell me about how easy I have it as a musician, I get a little irritated. Is it easy recording for years on outdated equipment because it's all I can afford? Is it easy playing aggressive music in the bible-belt? Was it easy walking through the near-deserted mall in my hometown passing out demos to anyone who would take them? Was it easy to leave for a bigger city where I knew no one, just to have a slightly better chance at finding a place to play a show? Was it easy when none of my friends came to those shows? No, not at all, but I bet it was easy to be born to rich parents who were already working in the entertainment business, like a lot of the very same artists who claim to know how “easy” us young whipper-snappers have it.

I want this to be clear, I'm not bitter by any stretch of the imagination. Why should I be? Every one of my failures and bad experiences have formed me into who I am today, and I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm still at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole, and it took a while for me to even get here, so rest assured, I won't be waggling my fist at any young bands any time soon. It's never been easy to get any kind of creative endeavor off the ground, much less “into the black”, and I'd argue that it's now harder than ever thanks to the Internet. A more level playing field means more competition, and less likelihood that someone will offer to foot the bill just because you sound good.

Somewhere along the way, many of yesterday's Rock heroes became the same stale, out-of-touch idiots that they used to write songs about, and that my friends, is pure poetry. If you listen closely, you can hear the world's tiniest string section playing the sad, sad song of the bitter, old rock star. A sorrowful sonnet filled with a longing for trashed hotel rooms and disease-ridden groupies; a mournful melody ruminating on needless excess and wasted years long gone. An old man looks up from his $5500 custom Les Paul and says, “You kids don't know how good you have it!” to which we respond, “No, I guess we don't.” as we walk off to our beat-up vans and head to another living room to play for 30 people (if we're lucky) before trudging back to our day jobs the following Monday.

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