SO: I’ve been in the middle of this personal project for the past month and a half: to listen to every single piece of music I own, in alphabetical order. I started with the physically purchased cds, so I’m now most of the way through the “B”s. And honestly, it was a great idea. Sure, there’s been a couple albums where I desperately wanted to skip some tracks, but I forced myself to continue. And the best part is I get to experience the anticipation of “Oh, [random album I love] is coming up next! Awesome!”
The other great part is I am listening to things I haven’t listened to in quite a while. And that brings me to this: yesterday, Bush Sixteen Stone ended up in my cd player. And goddammit, I was 15 again.
See, this album, more than any other, is what led me to being a musician. I mean, you’d be hard-pressed to deny the influence of artists and bands from the 90s, such as Nirvana's Nevermind, Weezer's Blue Album, or Green Day's Dookie, in the same respect, but those all made me think “Man, I wish I could play guitar.” For some reason, Sixteen Stone made me think I COULD play guitar. From the first time I heard the opening E-G-E of “Everything Zen”, I knew I could do that. And only four tracks later, with “Comedown” (which for the longest time was my favorite song, period), was it cemented in my nascent little musical brain: this is what I want to do. I not only wanted to play music, to write it, to perform it for people, but I wanted to BE Gavin Rossdale.
I know, I know, Bush as a band, and Gavin as a human, aren’t that great. In fact, academically, I now know who exactly Rossdale was ripping off, and how derivative Bush really was. But regardless, at the time, he was a GOD to me. In the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, I had three music idols: Billy Corgan, who I couldn’t imagine being, because he was way too whiny and depressed, Rivers Cuomo, who was even nerdier than I imagined myself to be, and Gavin Rossdale, who seemed to just be this regular dude who managed to become a rock star, and turned fabulous. And again, I know this is not truth. But to me, then, it was goddamn FACT.
I taught myself to play guitar by playing along with every track on Sixteen Stone. The first album I ever pre-ordered was the very caustic follow-up, Razorblade Suitcase (which I loved as well). The first band I was in was a cover band that played more Bush songs than any other. I grew my hair out and tried to get it to look like Gavin’s. I wanted all the effects pedals that the lead guitarist, Nigel Pulsford, used. I was a Bush super-fan.
Eventually, they released their third album, The Science of Things, which, despite a killer single in “The Chemicals Between Us”, kind of ran cold to me. And I lost interest. I moved on, to the artists and bands that would influence me more in terms of the music I write and play now, such as Sunny Day Real Estate, the Get Up Kids, and the Promise Ring. Bush languished, broke up/went on hiatus, Rossdale married Gwen Stefani and attempted a solo career, and apparently the band is now recording a new album for release next year, with a different lead guitarist and bass player. I… well, you know how I turned out.
Yet, despite all this, when the first E-G-E hit yesterday, I had a huge grin on my face, and I was back to my young high school self again, singing along, and thinking “I could totally do this.” And you know what? I totally can. Thank you, Bush Sixteen Stone. Thank you, Gavin Rossdale.
And remember: don't let the days go by.