I've climbed out on the roof again, the neighbours are getting as full of a dose ofa change is gonna come as my ancient Sony speakers can kick out. I've drank a few beers and the sun is doing that thing it does at the end of the day where it doesn't so much shine on you, as shine through you. Turning stress into light and the dark corners of your brain into just corners.
And I need it, the job I've chosen, at least for a while, is tough.
I work with kids that have emotional and behavioural problems. And that's all I have to say about that.
I refuse to write about them, despite the wealth of material and emotional currency I spend daily. I don't have many rules but I find the thought of exploiting them for 'content' ikky.
So specifics aside, I will talk about my job in the most general terms, and in general it is, as I mentioned before, tough. A degree of professionalism stops me from being as upfront as I'd like to be with them. Sometimes there are things you'd like to tell them that not only it would be wildly inappropriate to share but mostly they're the sort of mines you can only learn not to tread on once you've put your foot down and heard the 'click'.
But I will share them here, advice is nostalgia yadda yadda yadda. Sometimes you've got to take your keyboard for a walk and see what happens. Here are
3 lessons I I Wish I Was Allowed To Teach My Kids Using Songs
1. Guns & Roses Paradise City
Being Skilled Is Better Then Being Cool
For a while Guns & Roses where the coolest band in the world – they sang about sleaze, drugs, and fights. But also about pain, loss and hope. W. Axel Rose (his initials spell 'war' Coooooool – Axel rose is kinda of an anagram of oral sex, double Coooooool.) would explode onto stage screaming, shouting, and spinning like a violent five year old. He looked like a cross between a red neck rent boy and the wrestler Hulk Hogan but he was Cool. He was King Swag back when 'swag' was just known as arrogance or mild personality disorder.
Everybody had an opinion on Axel, he couldn't open his mouth without picking a fight or offending half the music press.
Slash on the other hand would walk on stage with a stiff legged stride, hair covering his face, play his guitar and leave. A man of few words, not ignorantly so, you just got the impression he wanted to let his music do his talking for him. Things you know Slash after being a fan for five years.
1. He wears a top hat.
2. He plays the guitar like he once finger banged an angel.
Slash is cool because he is skilled – he's spent years practising his craft and never stopped. Axel's skill was being cool, he effortlessly got people to admire him and practised very hard at not caring what people thought of him.
Now Axel is a bloated joke trying to wring whatever worth he can out of his past glories, and Slash works with the best artists in his genre being cited as an influence to a generation of guitar players.
Cool by its very nature is as ephemeral as fairy magic, a glamour that dies at the next sunrise. If you want to be cool, be cool for being great. Find something you love at do it until you're magnificent. Because when cool fades, you'll still shine. Or you can try to be cool by aggressively cultivating a 'I don't care' attitude, and it may even work, for a while. Or can care about something, works towards something – and by doing that you'll find that you genuinely don't care what people think. And by doing that, be truly cool.
2. Janis Joplin Mercedes Benz
The person it will be hardest to get to fall in love with you is actually the most important.
This is Janis Joplin, her gorgeous distinctive voice is real – no tricks, tune ups, or machine bunkery. The way her voice goes up and down is actual emotion. The up and down vibrato in talent show contestants are a shadow of this, they don't know this but actually feeling a song makes the performance transcend the simple performer /audience relationship and forms a connection with those that hear it.
The rasp in her voice is damage from whiskey, she drank, a lot. She never thought she was pretty enough to deserve her success and made her desperately unhappy, so she drank until she wasn't. But this sadness came out in her singing.
But if her unhappiness made her a better singer, then it wasn't a total waste right? Well I don't think so. I said emotion makes people sing better – when you can know sadness and use that long after it leaves as a resource to draw from.
This song, is the one song where she sounds truly happy. It's beautiful and haunting and breaks my heart got to show us what an album with joy in her voice would have sounded like.
Being a teenager is hard, your skin doesn't hang right on your bones and bits start growing in weird ways. Your brain too is pushing into the unknown, growing into something strange, flooding you with emotions and feelings that feel like somebody is pressing blindly on the keyboard of your heart. It sucks, but ride it out – it settles down after a bit I promise. Then its up to you. The struggle that a moth has to shed its cocoon is the only thing that can build its muscles strong enough to be able to fly.
The lesson here is to forgive yourself – think, flirt, and really get to know this amazing person you're becoming. It's really hard for anyone else to fall in love with you if you don't agree with them.
3. Rudimental Not Giving In
This is to the one boy out of the whole hall who allowed himself to dance in his seat when this song kicked in. The one person in the hall that allowed himself to smile a big puppy grin that denied the Monday morning slump while ignoring the confused and sneering looks around you.
If you keep that up, you my friend, you, are going to have so much fun.