[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
Several nights ago, I was standing in the parking lot behind the Art & Culture Centre in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, talking with people who had stuck around to meet me post-show. As we talked, I looked around and took in the excellent quality of air. If you check Corner Brook on a map, it might seem like a remote location. Being there is quite the example of way off in the great wide open. It's a beautiful part of the world, and at night most of the stores are closed and you get the feeling that you have a good part of the planet to yourself; the distant lights are merely there to provide ambience.
I heard young people talking amongst themselves: Where should they go next? A late-night restaurant was discussed. After they were done with me, they made their plans, broke off into groups and exited into the huge and beautiful summer darkness as I contemplated my 0415 hrs. lobby call and two long flights back to Los Angeles. One youth told me months go by there without an all-ages show, so mine was a welcome rarity. This is why I hang out post-show and meet anyone who is still lurking around the venue. It's more than a show; it is our lives out there.
Hearing how hard shows are to come by there made me think. I felt bad for them; I also thought that there is a sweet agony in that kind of exclusion. It forces a young person to innovate, exist as somewhat of an exile and, by doing so, further define themselves -- how much better can it get?
When you're kept out of the adult world, it's a blessing in disguise. Since aging cannot be helped, the few years spent in adult awareness while being (for the most part) excluded from it is a unique time.
For some of us, those are times we come back to in our thoughts over and over again. We think of it as a more simple time and forget some of the misery-filled craters we found ourselves in. At that age, it's all poetry, isn't it?
Hearing what those young people were saying to each other stuck with me, and I have been thinking about them in the days since. I have, in my own way, tried to retain as much of that outsidelookinginatude as I can.
Some of the best experiences of my young life, perhaps almost all of them, center around music. Going to shows was great, of course, but it was the nothing to do, nowhere to go aspect of all that time -- and its incredible abundance -- that I sometimes miss and return to by listening to the records I heard in friends' bedrooms as we sat on the floor and tore time to pieces. At some point, this hangout ritual was given an upgrade as many of my friends formed bands and practiced in their parent's basements. These were some of the best times of my life.