Back in the fall of 1993, I had serious thoughts that there were not going to be many more springs and summers and winters ahead for me. My two-and-a-half year run in support of Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion had come to an end, and I found myself with a caustic and deadly addiction to drugs and alcohol. I was lonely, tired, and never ate.
Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. He writes about what music is circulating through his space every Monday.
I had also finally bought a house back in Seattle. It had a basketball court and an old, leaky roof. I never thought I'd use the basketball court. And I remember thinking that the cedar shake roof that I put on the house--rated to last 25 years--would outlast me.
Today it's looking old and somewhat worse for the wear. I guess I do too. I take not a small amount of solace in the fact that I figured out a way to outrun the life expectancy of my roof. To hell with how I look from the outside. I am giddy just to be here.
It's when the seasons change, as they did this week, that I feel dead lucky. I am in Seattle with my family right now, and on one of our recent 85-degree July days, playing basketball in our backyard with my soon-to-be 10 year-old, it suddenly dawned on me that THESE are the good old days. Right now. Right here.
So often I find myself rushing through a day trying to get this done or that. When a friend in London and I were discussing the details of business and family and time away from home, he e-mailed me a reminder: "THIS IS NOT A REHEARSAL!" It's easy to forget.
It happens in a flash, life does. It seems like just yesterday that my 13-year-old daughter, Grace, was born. Only the ever-deepening lines on my face tell me that I have been alive for a while. I don't FEEL any different. I still have geeky and adolescent thoughts. I still tell the same dumb jokes. Didn't I JUST paint my house? That was 10 years ago?! It can't be.
There's no question that life is treating me well, inside and outside my house. I got to fly down to L.A. last weekend and take part in one of the most fun gigs I have EVER played. Jane's Addiction played a show to be included in Donovan Leitch's film about Hollywood and the Sunset Strip. The band is allowing me to be a part of their history, and for that, I am deeply honored. Life is good indeed.But contrast in life is needed for balance. If it were all gumdrops and pink girly-stuff in my life, I am quite sure that I would go fucking insane. I love my girls and my household, don't get me wrong, I just need pain and darkness now and again to even the teeter-totter. I like to write rock songs about the "other side"--often laced with profane utterances ("Los Angeles/You're a fucking whore/Hollywood/You're an open sore")--all the while trying not to use "bad words" in my own house. I like exercise with pain and some suffering involved. I like old-school punk rock. I like Slipknot and The Refused, too.
Contrast in my life is also apparent in the oldest friends that I have. My longest/best friend, Andy, has always called my bullshit and often scratched his head at my chosen path in life. Andy's catchphrase to me seems to be, "What you doing THAT for?!"
From the time I moved to L.A. back in 1984, to my changing Grace's diaper too slowly, he has always challenged me to clarify and sharpen my goals and intents. We have been hanging out this week a bunch, and thus I have had to explain to him what I have been up to over the last year or so. Andy lets me know that life is indeed not ALL about me. He didn't know about me and Jane's Addiction. Of course, I thought EVERYONE knew about it!
Andy reminds me that most other people do have a life of their own that doesn't center on me. He doesn't read this column. He doesn't go to music websites to troll. He's a normal guy. Because I have always kept my best friends from childhood--men whose professions differ greatly from mine and who thus have perspective (as I hope I provide in return)--I am a normal guy . . . or at least I STRIVE to be a normal guy.