By: Jammie S. Foster
© Copyright 2000
As the 80's came to an end, the 90's began, a band begin to rise and a young girl started to become wise. So my story begins ...............................
As I walked the halls of a middle school try as I may I could not help but overhear the snickers and chuckles amongst the whispers. In elementary school I had been what some might call popular but in middle school I just couldn't find a clique, much less a nook or cranny, where I fit. I had my own taste of style; not a lot of dresses or skirts like the other girls more jeans and tees. My apparel was far from what my peers expected much less wanted to see. I had the brains so was in a lot of advanced classes. The two just didn't fit together around here.
I live in an area where certain things are expected of you. I never meant to rebel but in some ways I guess that's what I did to the "in group" by not dressing like them or acting like them. Now just a short note here I usually try not to stereotype or judge others but I don't know another way to tell the story other than telling what I recall. Per se some these days might say that these kids that ran the school, so to speak of course, well if it were to have come a hard rain they may have just drowned.
I use to have this problem with dealing with my emotions and would bite my tongue, though that is rarely the case in these times. So, because I was smart and in the advanced classes most expected me to go around with my nose in the air and listening to rock was just out of the question, I never sat and listened to their music or became the person they wanted me to be. I only became myself. Around the time all of this was happening Skid Row was on their way. Little did I know at the time just what the bassist would come to mean to me.
You see the jeans I wore I liked to have holes in them. My hair I liked to wear one of two ways either, as my father would say, "Looking like I had stuck my finger in a light socket," or just brush it out in the morning and go. Skid Row's video I Remember You was the talk of the school. I seem to recall some saying something to the effect of, "How could those long haired, trashy hellions produce such a meaningful ballad."
So enter Skid Row onto the scene. Around that time I started to make friends in both groups the "preps" as well as the "hellions" although I don't think I thought a lot of it at the time. So Skid Row was now the "in" thing with both crowds. To be honest I didn't listen to them at first. That was until I was at a friend's home one-day and saw the video for the first time. She was all crazy over Sebastian but to me he just looked like one of our friends except add in a bit of Axl Rose. Then I saw Rachel. That was it I was a goner. It's quite different from the reason you think I mean though.
This young man had such soulful eyes and he wasn't like most other musicians. He was feeling the music, not just like some type of programmed robot just playing. Then I happened one day to notice the holes in his jeans as well as the nose chain, which at some point in time I mimicked with a long earring attaching the end inside my nose. Imagine my surprise at a later date and time when he had handcuffs on the front of his jeans, I had did that myself a few times.
I don't remember the day I bought the cassette of Skid Row or what I was feeling. I do remember thinking though that if this man could dress in similar clothing as I was dressing at the time but still put so much feeling into his music that maybe there was hope for me after all. By that time I had started reading the lyrics to their songs, not just singing them. The lyrics were filled with such emotion. I was simply in awe.
At some point along the way my interest in reading increased. I am referring to school. I did read and listen to interviews conducted with Rachel too though. I couldn't help but be curious; I mean was all of this just a gimmick or was it his persona. After the first time I saw Skid Row in concert I formed my own conclusions. I saw a man who cared and could be hurt, who played for fun not for money, and who had gone through the normal teenage things yet had survived to become the most talented artist I had ever seen.
We'll move ahead a few years. I had dealt with the stereotypes and the other cruel things children do and had become stronger not weaker as I had expected. I saw Skid Row yet again. This time it was not reserved seating though. I just had to know if Rachel still had the passion and love for his music as he had the last I had saw them in concert. I mean was it really possible for the passion to last? So I made my way to the front, right in the front of the stage. I looked into his eyes and it was still there. It started me thinking about something that I enjoyed doing in school but had never tried at home. I just did not think that dreams such as those could come through time and still leave behind love and desire.
When I was 15 I got involved in a relationship that would test me in more ways than one. These tests would last 3 years. The relationship was a bad one and I lost out on many opportunities over it, little did I know that when all was said and done I would have gained much more than I ever thought possible. The relationship was filled with pain and disappointment. Finally, one day I just decided that I needed something. I was listening to a Skid Row compact disc by that time and had worn out several tapes. The lyrics just reached a part of me I thought was long gone and that part was my desire, passion, and love for my art. So I finally began to write without it being an assignment. I have several poems these days. Most are sad though some are happy. Last fall I had a poem published in a cookbook. Granted it isn't a big deal to most. To me though it is.
You see after the relationship ended I didn't know who I was anymore. For two very long years I searched not quite sure what I was looking for. I began to think of Rachel and recalled how strong yet passionate he seemed. I had the strength all along but it had gotten lost and all it took was for me to think of the passion Rachel has for his music to remember how much I loved my poetry.
This may seem a bit odd and confusing, so should it be. However, if you have never seen Rachel Bolan play his music I ask you to. Maybe someone reading this story has a gift but has pushed it aside for fear of failure. I learned many things from Rachel's interviews and things over the years but the greatest lesson is also the greatest gift that I could ever ask for or wish upon another. The gift of learning to do what your heart wants you to and what you want to. Don't do things for money but for a sense of serenity and joy that they can bring you.
Before I end this story I would like to say a few other things, these are for me not for you so I don't care if you read on or stop. On April 30th, 2000 I have the chance to see Skid Row and Rachel one more time all things willing. I must admit that I was scared though. I was supposed to have 5th row floor seats, but found out March 30th that we were lied to and they are balcony seats. The seats we now know we have are not all that good, we may be able to see them from the side but another person said we wouldn't be able to see at all. That would have been just close enough for me to see into Rachel's eyes, the eyes show your soul and tell your story. I was afraid of how I would react if the passion for his music was gone. The craziest thing is I am no longer an eleven-year-old girl with some schoolgirl crush rather a woman with the deepest and most sincere respect for the man who helped make me into who I am these days. I guess the most bizarre part of it all is that Rachel Bolan has no idea who I am or what I look like but I wouldn't be the strong willed, determined, and passionate woman I am had it not been for him and his passion for his music.
On a final note I would like to ask that each of you who read this take the story to heart. Remember that there is no one who walks amongst us that is perfect so you kept that in mind the next time things aren't going so great. It's ironic though that I did try to find some sort of address to write to Rachel and thank him but if he is the man I have grown to idolize and admire I think perhaps this story may possibly be the best way I could ever say Thank You Rachel though he'll never truly know how his persona effected a very confused and lost child.
Thank you Rachel!
Ms. Jammie S. Foster