Friday, February 20, 2009

Bret Michaels

A couple of months ago, I completely revamped my iPod. I wiped it clean of all the music I had loaded on to it. Every song I no longer wished to listen to were left behind on my computer and I loaded all the songs I still hadn’t grown tired off on to my iPod, along with some new music. Once I took a glance at my new iPod, I realized how much my taste in music actually said about who I was and who I had become.

I’m going to dedicate this blog to my relationship with Bret Michaels. It’s a relationship that exists only in my head, and one that he most likely wouldn’t be very interested in, seeing as it would only involve talking.

To quote him from one of his songs: “I am good at one thing and believe me it ain’t talk!” (from “Look but You Can’t Touch”)

Growing up, my taste in music was pretty much influenced by three things: My parents, my peers and the radio.

In my family, my dad was mainly the one listening to music, so I grew up listening to his country music. I’d say my parents’ taste in music accounted for a 50% influence on my own taste in music.
As I grew older, my peers’ taste in music became a factor. I think however, that when I analyze the way I was back then, my peers’ taste in music only accounted for about 20% of my musical influence. Sure I may have pretended to like their music so I wouldn’t seem like such a country-music loving geek. I was a teenager after all and had no desire to stand out. I did enjoy a lot of that music though (hey I grew up in the 80s…what’s not to like...) but at the end of the day, when it came time for me and me alone to pick a tape to listen to (this was before CDs), I went back to country.
A third factor that I guess by logical math would account for about 30% of my taste in music would be the radio. The top hits, whatever was played over and over and over again on the radio, stuck to the brain until you couldn’t stop yourself from whistling these tunes or singing them in the shower because you just couldn’t clear them from your memory.
These songs were the very same ones that were played at school dances and fun functions I attended as a teen, so naturally a lot of fond (and some not so fond) memories became linked with the tunes so I cherish these songs for many reasons.

11 years ago, I moved from Norway to the United States and it opened up a whole new array of bands and musical talents that I had never listened to, or even heard of. Until then, I was familiar with the most popular hit songs which had made their way across the pond and had been played on the Norwegian radio, but there was a lot of music that never made it that far.
Luckily for me, I discovered that it is never too late to catch up.

My first real insight into the world of Bret Michaels happened when he appeared on Nashville Star as a judge one season. As a fan of country music, the world of rock was fairly unexplored by me, so Bret Michaels had a clean slate with me. I knew very little about him, about his “bad boy” past or about his being as a whole, but by the end of the season, I had become thoroughly fascinated by the man. Despite knowing nothing about him, I learned a lot just by listening to his comments & watching his general appearance on the show. From stories I’ve heard and articles I’ve read after the fact, I know that I got a fairly accurate perception of him.
One of the qualities that really made me like him was his uncanny ability to just be himself! It doesn’t seem like this is something that should require a lot of effort, but the truth is, it’s a quality that is sorely lacking in a lot of people. Bret stood out because he had this attitude of “Hey, this is who I am, take it or leave it.” Well, I took it.
During the course of the show, he also performed a few of his songs and I really liked what I heard. He wasn’t performing as Poison that time, he was singing songs from his solo albums.

Well, the show ended and Bret & I parted ways for a while. I had gotten to know him and I liked him but musically, I was still stuck in the past.

Then I discovered this addicting game called “Guitar Hero III” and I immediately fell in love with the song “Talk Dirty to Me”, even before I realized who was behind that song. Once I found out it was a Poison song, it was as if everything came full circle and I was hooked, not just on the song, but to Poison and to Bret Michaels. I started rifling through my husband’s CD collection to retrieve his old Poison CDs, and I quickly became a Poison addict, constantly craving more and more of their songs until I was in possession of them all. (I’m sure there may be some out there that I haven’t heard….)
Of course, I was already familiar with the biggest Poison hits, such as “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “Something to Believe In” because they did make it across the pond, but as I started listening to more of Poison’s albums, I discovered all these musical gems that had never been recorded on a “Greatest Hits” album. Most of these songs were written by Bret Michaels, some in cooperation with the rest of the band members.

As I started wandering through the world of rock, I discovered other great bands along the way, such as Motley Crue and Skid Row. Although their songs were catchy and really good, I found myself getting bored with their songs after listening to them a few times. To me, they lacked a depth and a lyrical diversity that I seemed to have found in Poison’s music. (I'm sure some people will disagree with me, and I would expect nothing else... Music is like tattoos, they mean something different to every single person.)

And yes, I know there are some tunes in the Poison discography that aren’t that great, but the blunders are few, the diamonds are many.
(Note: I’ve had the same Poison CD on “shuffle” in my car stereo for over a year now… It doesn’t get old.)

Once I had familiarized myself with Poison, I started delving into Bret’s solo work and found it to be just as good as his Poison work, maybe better. The man’s still got it, not just physically (because let’s face it, he’s sexy as hell), but also as an artist.
I find that Bret is a true bard in a modern sense of the word. He is a word smith, a lyricist and a musician and his solo songs are amazing. It seems like his current songs are more a part of him, they are more personal and it gives a greater insight as to who he is as an individual, where he came from and who his musical influences have been.

A couple of his songs brings up his bout with diabetes. Bret was just a child when they found out about his disease, and I can’t even imagine how heartbreaking and difficult and depressing that must have been. I knew a couple of kids from my childhood who had diabetes and it was no picnic for them (literally…). Back then, the only sugar free soda was Tab (Come on, all at once: Ewwwwwwww!) and sugar free cakes & candy were non-existent. Well, that’s not true. They had a couple of sugar free treats that tasted just as good as that pink-labeled black-colored watery drink they named Tab. For birthday parties and picnics, these kids could pretty much just sit and watch everyone stuff themselves with cake and soda. That has to be so tough on a kid. (Heck most adults would find that difficult….).

During this entire time though, throughout sex, drugs & rock’n roll, Bret has somehow managed to keep himself healthy & keep the disease at bay. Who knows, the diabetes may have been a factor as to why he’s still such a great artist and so talented, because no matter what he has done throughout his career as a rocker, the disease may have been lingering vaguely in the back of his mind throughout the journey.

However, as I said before, what I do admire the most about Bret Michaels is his bluntness and his ability to just be himself. He has no qualms about airing his dirty laundry for everyone to see. I remember this one article from an interview with a “Rock of Love” reject where they gossiped that his long hair is not his, they are hair extensions. Bret’s response was simply “Yes they are, I get the finest European hair that money can buy!” I just loved it. I mean…who cares? If I earned millions of dollars, I’d probably get the finest extensions money could buy too. And as for Bret’s bad-boy past, sure I know about it, I know it’s real but heck, he has never denied it. There are people out there who have done far worse things in life and who sit high and mighty upon their pedestals, their images are squeaky clean but their souls are not.

Despite being a Bret Michaels fan, I’m not a fan of “Rock of Love”. I’ve watched a couple of episodes, but it’s not my thing.
From what I can tell, “Rock of Love” has served as an advertising campaign for Bret Michaels. He has been able promote himself as a solo artist, so that people will look at him and think “Bret” instead of looking at him and thinking “Poison”. As far as I can tell, he has pulled this off. It’s a really brilliant business plan and Bret is an amazing salesman. And contrary to what he stated in the song I quoted above, I believe that he must be very good at talking because otherwise he wouldn’t have made is this far in his career.


Gone from my iPod are all my country songs. (Well, I take that back. Bret has a few country songs that are very good, and they are still on there.) It’s kind of sad. It is as if I’ve said goodbye to a part of me that has kept me company most of my life. But then again, while the songs are gone, the memories are still there and they always will be.
I’ve just moved on is all. It feels as if I’ve finally found myself and the music taste I’ve developed is one that I have developed on my own, without caring about anybody’s input or influence.
The music I publically say that I love and the music I play when I’m on my own is finally the one and the same! That must be a good sign?

As far as Bret Michaels goes, I’m probably the only woman in the world who, if stranded on a deserted island with Bret, would spend the time talking with him. (I think I can hear him praying out loud right now….). Perhaps someday, I will write a biography.

Maybe someday, I too can find the courage to be myself. Perhaps the next time I waver between being true to who I am and being someone who other people want me to be, I should simply ask myself….


All photos in this blog was taken by me during a Poison concert
at the Universal Amphitheater in LA.

All I can say is.... Bret's still got IT! (They rocked!!)

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