You always saw Angus. With his schoolboy uniform and flashy solos, it was kind of impossible to miss him. Or you saw the singer–first Bon, then Brian–all raspy voices, tight jeans, and leering smiles. It didn’t matter which one it was; they were eerily interchangeable. If you were a certain type of fan, you’d watch the drummer at the back. But you almost never saw Malcolm on stage. He was always there, usually just to the singer’s left, bobbing away to the beat and strumming his guitar. Your attention would always be on the flashy exterior, never really realizing that the heart of AC/DC was pounding away unnoticed.
Malcolm Young might not have been responsible for the image AC/DC projected to its fans, but he was largely responsible for their sound. He co-wrote most of the songs you sing along with as they blare from your radio. When it was announced in 2014 that he was permanently retiring from the band because of dementia, family and fans knew it was just a matter of time. That time came a couple days ago when Malcolm left this plane at just 64. He left behind some truly kick ass music. It won’t change the fact that he was too young to go, but at least it gives everyone something to hold on to.
There. That feels better.
I find something peaceful and healing in the sound of electric guitars, heavy bass, and whipcrack drums. Rock & Roll settles my soul like almost nothing else.
All music fulfills some need inside me. Jazz seems to fill in a hole inside me that I didn’t know was empty; it completes me somehow, although I can’t really explain it any more clearly. Country and Blues are kind of like booze–comfort in a misery loves company kind of way. Other kinds of music fill other emotional needs: laughter and rage, joy and contemplation. But Rock & Roll, that’s like coming home.
The title of this song is how I felt just a few moments ago when I read that founding band member Malcolm Young is permanently retiring from AC/DC because of dementia. I don’t know how advanced his illness is, although the band has recorded and will soon release an album without him. While Malcolm was never the character his brother Angus was, he helped fill out AC/DC’s sound, making them one of the toughest and tightest Hard Rock bands ever.
I can’t imagine how Malcolm and his family must be feeling right now. The idea of losing my faculties and memory so completely is terrifying to me. Dementia is one of the Big Scary Diseases. I do crossword puzzles partly because I like words, and partly because I heard they can help ward off dementia. I think I’ll start doing them a lot more now.
Malcolm Young isn’t all that young anymore, but he’s not that old either, only 61. That’s too young to be losing pieces of yourself that way. As a Buddhist, I know I should be more enlightened and remember that we are all part of the whole, that the individual self is merely an illusion. But in a way, that terrifies me even more. Every little part of himself that Malcolm loses is also a part of me. Forgetting is frightening. Oh, I’ve forgotten lots of small things–phone messages, doing chores, etc. And I’ve forgotten some big ones (there’s a lot of novels, stories, and poems I could’ve written if not for the ideas I’ve forgotten). But to lose chunks of your life . . . to lose people and experiences wholesale . . . to forget the little talismans and rituals that represent your existence. That thought makes me shudder.
I wish the entire Young family luck and peace during this time. And I hope Malcolm keeps the part of himself that remembers how loved he is forever.
Another thing that happened on my hiatus was that the Supreme Court declared 5-4 that money is free speech.
Okay. That’s not exactly what the ruling was. But near enough. Basically, the ruling said that limits on how much someone can contribute to political campaigns impinges on that someone’s First Amendment rights to free speech. Remember, this is the same Supreme Court that declared corporations have their own free speech rights, in addition to that of individual citizens.
In other words, money talks.
If you have billions of dollars at your disposal and are the CEO of a large corporation, then you have more free speech rights than your employees. Because you are rich and run a corporation. Which has its own free speech rights. If you can afford to
buy the favor of give millions of dollars to a politician, then s/he will supposedly listen to you more than the hundreds of thousands of other voters who either voted for or contributed smaller amounts to that politician. Because you are rich. According to this current SCOTUS, rich people have more rights than the rest of us simply because they have more money.
Fuck you, SCOTUS.
Granted, the limits on how much an individual person can contribute to any one individual politician are still in place. The new free spending rules apply to political action committees and other fundraising organizations. But c’mon, who really pays for most of the campaigning done in elections these days. Even though individual candidates spend astronomical sums of money, the real dollars come from these other groups. You know, the ones run by freaks like Karl Rove that get all their money from lunatics like the Koch brothers.
Money talks. And democracy takes a long walk off a short pier.
Political and financial corruption is already out of control. Did the Supreme Court really need to make it that much worse? We need more control over campaign spending, not less. We need to make it harder for Congress to have corporate sponsors like they do in NASCAR (or we at least need to make Congress wear patches saying who owns them like drivers). I hate that actual participation in politics, already at disgusting lows, is going to get even more difficult because our votes don’t mean as much because we aren’t rich. Never mind voter ID laws and gerrymandering; people just can’t afford being active citizens anymore.
So here’s a call to anyone who might still care out there: Fight this. Pay attention to who’s paying for your political representatives. Educate yourself about the issues. Vote. Don’t let these bastards win.