[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.]
I turned 52 years of age on the 13th day of February. That morning, I found myself completely uninterested in this fact. My 50 birthday was interesting. I saw it as the beginning of some post peak, diminishing returns, downhill ride in Mortality's toboggan. It ended up not being a big deal.
This time around, I got a cake, a card and a lot of friendly e-mails from all over the world, all of which I answered after work that evening.
I figured since it was my birthday, I would suspend my usual rule of only listening to new music on the weeknights, which I do in an effort to keep moving forward, distancing the hounds of stagnation from my heels, and play some records that were more familiar. I consider this carbohydrate listening; comfort food for the ears. I usually reserve this kind of low challenge listening for Saturdays.
One of my true north, clear the air, reset favorites is the first Clash album, the UK version, which has different songs than its American cousin. I have been listening to this album since I was in high school and it still moves me.
So, I sat right in front of the speakers and took it in one more time. As I listened, I did a multi-level gut check. I do this kind of thing all the time: Before shows, auditions, anything where there is risk involved. I do the big ones in the early hours of the new year and on my birthday. I try to figure out where I'm at as far as motivation, intensity, etc.
When the album's last song, "Garage Land," finished. I found myself very happy. Ecstatic, actually. Because I realized how angry I was. I got up, flipped the record over, started it again and resumed my self-analysis. As the songs played, I concluded that I was more angry than I was a year ago. This to be an achievement, something I have somehow gotten it right.
My anger does not manifest itself in destruction of objects, swearing in traffic, or attempting to get beaten up by another male several years my junior. Actually, it gets me up early, on the road and down it. I believe that contentment or any sustained period of joy that doesn't inspire thought that leads to action almost immediately is useless.