I’d like to invite you to join me on a journey back in time.

It’s 1994 and I’m sitting in the high school library with a friend of mine. Guns n’ Roses’ The Spaghetti Incident? has just been released, and everybody’s savaging it with the mockery it so richly deserves. My friend, an avid G n’ R fan at the time, says, “Oh, don’t worry.  They’ll have an awesome new album out within six months, which will totally redeem them.”  I made a bet with him that U2, my favorite band at the time, would release a new album before G n’ f’n R.

Fast forward to 2005, when the New York Times prints this article about the still unreleased “new” Guns n’ Roses album, Chinese Democracy:

A chronicle of Axl’s fits, rages, and many, many aborted release attempts, the article, as all good reporting should, shines a light on over ten years of rumors, aborted release dates, and constant ridicule.

I was never really a big G n’ R fan (although I did love Appetite when I was eight).  But when, in 2006, word came – again – that the album was finally ready for release, I got excited.  So much had happened since that day in the high school library (including, like, 4 U2 albums) that it seemed like it should be a big deal, even if the record was destined to be nothing but mediocre.  I wanted to have a big release party outside Tower Records.  I sent this email to my dear friend SheWalksSoftly:

Sent: Friday, October 06, 2006 3:13 PM
Subject: November 21

Free up your calendar for November 21.  Yes, that has been announced as a “firm” release date for Chinese Democracy:

She replied:

“Oh, it’s ON for the 21st!  It’s been marked!  I’M SO PSYCHED!”

The joke, of course, is that we had probably sent over a hundred of these emails back and forth through the years.  But not only did November 21, 2006 fade away without Chinese Democracy, but so did Tower itself.  Yes, during the holiday season that year, the cornerstone of my youth folded and died.  No Tower Records would ever sell a copy of Chinese Democracy.

So.  Around a month ago, it’s announced that, at last, after all the cancellations, after all the scraped demos, rumored release dates, false alarms and law suits, the now-legendary Chinese Democracy would be released on November 23, 2008 as a…Best Buy exclusive?

No fanfare.  No fuss.  Just a sheepishly small “The most anticipated album…ever” slogan on a Best Buy circular.

And yes, the album is as mediocre as anyone could have possibly predicted.  Nobody thought it would be great, but I’m sure there were people holding out hope that it would at least be so bad that you could laugh at it.  But no.  It’s just….there.  Dana and I sat in the car and listened, as I tried to make something out of the nostalgia I felt, trying  to explain why this release should have meant something.

So, now.  This is by far the bloggiest post I’ve ever done.  (Current Music: “Prostitute.”  Current Mood: Wistful.)  And you’re probably wondering to yourselves, “Um, where’s the silly little picture?”

Well, I suggest you refer all criticism to Axl:

PS – The alternate title of this post should be “He’s got eyes that it seems to me, remind me of childhood memories…”


One Response to “THE TIME HAS COME…and gone.”

  1. shewalkssoftly Says:

    I guess there’s something almost charming about the completely lackluster “event” of this album’s release. It’s just…14 songs, with the occasional perplexing moment involving Axl’s vocal technique or obvious 90’s metal influence.

    I do think the album wins the prize for having the most contributors. It took roughly 400 people to achieve that level of mediocrity.

    We’ll just have to MAKE memories to accompany The Most Anticipated Album Ever.

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