So you wanna be a rock 'n' roll star...by Dave McAwesome
Bands are fun. Unless you happen to be in one. Then they are a spiritual vacuum, sucking the joy out of the very thing that you love, i.e., rockin'. Further soul-sucking occurs if you lose out in the naming process, and the moniker that you hope to plaster on t-shirts, local stop signs, and your stickman's bass drum (much to his consternation) sucks donkey bottom. Do yourself a favor, just call yourselves "The New Lynyrd Skynyrd." Please. For me.
Yes, the journey through band-dom is a woeful tale indeed. First, the crack naming committee is gonna do something stupid. 'Cause if you stick a bunch of knucklehead guys in the same room with musical instruments and tell 'em to come up with a name, hell, nothing good can come of that. Invariably, Cock Throttle is the first suggestion. Two people will suggest Death's Head at roughly the same time (followed by some ex-frat guy putting his finger on his nose and shouting "Not it," giggling like a lobotomized weasel). Band naming is not pretty, folks. You know why Nirvana was called Nirvana? Because every other city in the country had a band called Nirvana and Seattle needed one. (This was pre-Frasier, so Seattle didn't have a lot going on at the time.) And then you settle on some homogenized nonsensical name like The Border States.
A quick aside: Back in '67, Jimmy Page and I were brainstorming names for his new band. Just as we started, he nodded quietly and whispered, "The Border States." Odd, really, since Britain doesn't even have states...or many borders for that matter, being an island. So I piped in with Led Zeppelin. Page shrugged, "either way." And that, dear children, is the story of the first christmas.
And "The Border States" is such a bizarre choice, you're already planning the day when you break out on your own and cut a solo record: "The Lone Star State: Can't cross THIS border." Kick over a mic stand as you ditch your former bandmates. Yeah! "Eat it," you'll say.
The Border States. I imagine the following likely conversation.
Potential groupie: Hey, so you're in the band?
Band member: Yeah, baby. The Border Statesssss-ah.
Potential groupie: Cool. So, like, what's the name mean? (she snaps her bubble gum loudly)
Band member: Hey, when you're on the road, on your Harley...
Potential groupie: I thought you came here in a van--
Band member: Yeah, I mean when we're not in the van, we're on Harleys. Cruising the border states...down there...at the border.
Potential groupie: What, to buy fireworks?
Band member: Yeah--No! Lookin' for trouble, baby. You know, by the border.
Potential groupie: Oh...I'm gonna go make out with one of the guys from that Bon Jovi cover band.
Band member: (muttering under his breath) She'll be back.
Ah, but there's trouble a-brewin'. Your girlfriend-of-the-moment is all into fitness and stuff. Hiking and running and swimming and squirrel rustling. And she's got, like, all these fitness nerd friends. You know: jocks. The worst kind of jocks. Not the kind that went off to college for a biannual date rape only to later join up with a brokerage firm coyly named J. P. Morton. No, these people go out, climb a mountain or two before lunch, routinely check the color of each other's urine and snub their noses at your desire to read a book.
No sir, you're in screwed-ville now. You can't both hang in a band AND hang out with jocks. Don't you know the rules? Now that you're a jock, I'm afraid we are now mortal enemies. When we pass each other on the street, son, you better cross to the other side. Otherwise, I can't be held responsible for the hateful gaze I may cast your way. Me and the other members of the Jets (or Flame Falcons--we haven't settled on a name for our gang yet) challenge you jocks to a rumble behind the drive-in. After we whup yer pasty asses, we'll steal yer women and key your Mustangs. Jerks.
Crap, and then your girl says something stupider than usual like, "you know, hon--." And let's break in here to say that if a girl calls you "hon," you are no longer band-worthy. "Hon, let's do an Ironman." You pause for a moment thinking that perhaps this is some sexual codeword. Unfortunately it involves equal parts cycling, running and squirrel rustling. I was once delusional like this. Fortunately, I realized my self worth was not tied into physical manifestations of self-flagellation. Pretty soon, you're gonna be on the same running trails, clocking your intervals and sucking wind. And then the band says, "hey, dude, what about Border States? I thought it was about the music, man." And they start calling her Yoko behind your back. But then...whoa...they start calling her Yoko to your FACE! It's throw down time. "Stop it! Stop it! You're hurting him." and "No biting, no biting." Ug-ly. Just remember, when you storm out, try to say something cool. Like, "see you later, CHUMPS" ...ooh, 'chumps' ...that's gonna sting for weeks. "Pah," you spit as you swagger home, "I don't believe in nothin no more." And then kick-start your Harley and ride off down the Jersey Turnpike...to Delaware. Did I mention you'll need to buy a Harley?
Fly high free bird. Fly high.