News item: Members of Motley Crue announce farewell tour; sign “legally binding document” promising the band will not perform again.
Authenticity is a slippery thing.
Sometimes, musicians who live what they sing about earn the highest critical and popular accolades.
Think of Keith Richards, rock n’ roll outlaw …
… or Bruce Springsteen, who by most reports (the ones I’ve heard, anyway) still has a lot of the baby-boomer Jersey everyman about him …
… or Bon Scott, the ex-shipyard worker who stopped drinking, screwing and fighting just long enough to write songs about drinking, screwing and fighting.
But staying true to one’s own self does not guarantee success — or at least, not unanimous success.
Evidence indicates that the members of Motley Crue, particularly in their younger years, very much lived the glam-wastrel L.A. lifestyle they sang about.
I have no doubt that the band members slept with every woman they could convince, took drugs until they turned blue, averaged two new tattoos per week, and slipped their last $50 into strippers’ G-strings — when they weren’t busy pumping out hard rock to clubs full of rowdy fans.
And yet, I never warmed to them. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they are quite possibly my least favorite major rock band of all time. They’re certainly in the top 10.
At various points in my life, I’ve metaphorically bought into David Bowie as a starman, Mick Jagger as Satan, Johnny Cash as a prison inmate and Alice Cooper as a cackling necrophiliac freak — all of them poses, from start to finish.
But the four guys who chronicled their proudly decadent Sunset Strip lifestyle left me as flat as last night’s half-finished beer.
The Crue songs I heard always struck me as repetitious and derivative, laden with obvious chord changes and secondhand licks.
(The riff that drives “Dr. Feelgood,” just to name one, bears a distinct resemblance to AC/DC’s “Night of the Long Knives.” The Young brothers may well have swiped it from somewhere, too; but in my editorial judgment, once they used it, it was theirs.)
In my mind, they will forever remain a punchline — as they were for my entire sophomore year in college, when I roomed with a guy who owned their “Too Fast For Love” CD.
“Too Fast For Love” was the band’s first album, and it is as raw and half-defined as first albums tend to be. Vince Neil sings a half-note flat the entire time, while the band pounds out lowest-common-denominator licks that wouldn’t sound convincing coming from a group of high school sophomores.
My friend Matt and I decided that “Too Fast For Love” lent just the right comic/trashy overtones to our dorm-room video-game hockey battles, which mostly consisted of us shedding the puck as quickly as possible so we could start fights. (“What a burden it is to have the puck,” Matt sighed one night, as one of his goons fruitlessly pursued one of mine.)
So, on more nights than I remember, we would send out for pizza (we ate so much Domino’s that year, I can still taste it); put on “Too Fast For Love;” and merrily send our virtual skaters out on the ice to drop the gloves and do battle.
It was a wonderful year, sophomore year; and I suppose I owe some tiny part of that to Motley Crue’s overblown, cowbell-laced cock-of-the-walk strutting.
Still, I’m not gonna miss them.