Tuesday, August 23, 2005
CBGB's - a love that is ending
Being sick as a dog has some benefits. For me it was laying in bed listening to my MP3 player until the wee hours of the morning, reminiscing about the place where I heard most of the music I was listening to for the first time. That place was CBGB's - a place forever immortalized by The Ramones and The Clash.
I've always loved this great rock club not only for booking some great up and coming artists, but also for taking chances on groups that were non-formulaic, cutting edge and rough around the edges.
Part of my love for this place had to do with the small intimate setting; you could practically stand on stage with the band. The rest had to do with being surrounded by people who, like me, were primarily there for their love of music, not to show off stylish clothes or expensive accessories. The Paris Hilton's would simply be ignored. What people went to hear and see was great emerging talent. Bands who had begun to get a following and were getting established by jamming with more established groups. Song-writers, who tried out their songs on singers while downing some beers, hoping to have a shot at getting their music recorded. I don't think there was another venue in NYC where a songwriter could try out their music by getting up and performing like Laura Nyro did.
Imagine being able to see Squeeze, The Clash, The Talking Heads, The Police, The Ramones, Springsteen and the irreverent Patti Smith on a regular basis as they tried out material on the audience or peers like Lou Reed, and David Byrne. It was an amazing time for me and for women in music, because I got to see their music evolve before my very eyes. It was these women rockers who simultaneously gave birth to many new music styles as they busted rock’s masculine doors open so that the Avril Lavigne's of today could perform as headlining acts. CB’s was only about the love of music and talent, not about novelty acts or good looks. The rough, edgy, uncombed or wildly dresssed were welcome equally with the same indifference. Perhaps that non-conformism is what ushered it's demise.
Too bad I no longer have pictures of me in my hiked up catholic school girl plaid skirt with purple pigtails and streaks throughout my hair. For CB nights, after pulling long study hours at the library, I traded in my knee high socks and penny loafers for my black fishnet stockings and black doc martens steel toe boots. I was a bit of a rebel during high school, but I never went as far as showing up with the torn clothing as some punks loved to wear in those days. Safety pins were worn strategically. It was my own fashion nod to punks and fashion ave. alike. I was unique even in punk rock circlesn because I redesigned my own clothes. Redesigning is when you take an old item of clothing and you alter it updating it's style to reflect both your taste and current fashion trends. It's something that's very much in now.
My CB period was a fun, sweet time for me. Though I was young (my mom thought I was sleeping over at a classmate's on those nights) I never once got harassed or felt pressured to drink or use drugs or to engage in anything else for that matter. Life then was all about having fun with new styles of music and exploring the bounds of our creativity. For some it was not about making any political statements but rather enjoying the enormous talent that was there. That's what it was like for me, because even back then and in that world I was still somewhat conservative. What can I say, I was a complex individual even in those days!
I made some incredible musical memories there and did lots of firsts. Like the first time I filled in as back up for a little known band called Essence. Or the first time someone used one of my poems on stage in a song. Yes it was almost 4am, and I don't even have the poem anymore, but wow, what a mind-blowing and creatively validating experience! Well at least it was for me.
Why the sudden sentimentality for this place? It's none other than a demise of an era. CB's is scheduled to close its doors forever in a week, thus making this iconic place inaccessible to new generations.
[While lighting fades to black, Music takes center stage. In the darkness you hear a distant Joan Jett singing softly acapella "I love rock and roll"...]
This post was inspired by the memories of the gift of music that was shared with me and has been cross-posted at my Letters site.]
Update: While Pixy battles the evil gremlins and tries to resurect our munuvian server, I will be doing trackbacks below so other sites can find me. These bloggers have graciously set aside personal interests and difference in order to help. Thanks to you all:
My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Posted by Journey at 3:36 AM