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Tales From the Jugular
An Open Letter To A Washed-up Rock Star

Dear ___________:

I'm not sure why you still do it. You've been to the top of the charts, you've been all across the world and you've been adored by people who would do anything just to meet you. You drank in the back of limos with naked women, you've relaxed in bubbly hot tubs in penthouse suites and bought the fastest sports cars around.

But that was way in the past.

The cars are gone; sold to raise money for backtaxes. The chicks won't call you back and may even laugh at your attempt to hook up with them again. You haven't had a hit or even a new release for over a decade. What you haven't cut off of your once flowing locks, you've lost.

No industry suit wants to hear your new stuff much less try and market it. Maybe the company you work for is a bunch of whores would would think nothing of making money off your talent and sweat without even trying to understand a fraction of what you play. Maybe you deal with lazy-eyed club owners who let kids in the back and try to stiff you a couple hundred bucks at closing. Maybe you get real tired of being in a cramped tourbus for hours and hours going from gig to gig.

Why do you still bother? I suppose if all you've done is play drums or guitar or were an outcast in school who turned to music, you'd have some trouble fitting into a life of cubicles and water coolers. Could be for the few chicks who do come around. They may not be Halle Berry, but they do.

It all could be enough to bring an aging rock god down.

But even though the club is half empty or half full there's a guy or a girl in the audience who drove for hours just to be in the presence of your band. He might have had to work at a job with a boss who told him he had to put in weekend hours flipping burgers just to get a half day off. The girl in the front may reserve a special set of slots in her CD rack just for your releases. There may be a guy there with a roomfull of your merchandise from posters to imports to hats to flags that cover his room.

Your music was there during some of the most memorable moments of our lives and when we hear a particular line from a song, it takes us out of the present and back to a time when we didn't have bills to pay and grass to cut and all the worries of an adult.

Why do you even bother? Maybe because at the end of the day when the glory is gone you found out that you didn't need it. It's your thrill to play for 50,000 or 50 people as long as it gives you some pleasure. To those who are still chugging along as the years go by, I thank you.

Still Rockin' with ya,

Anonymous Headbanger

--Johnny Pardon (one man's cheese is another man's poignancy)

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