When the sun is burning and some people’s hats are too, I like to slow down the days by listening to Jackson Browne. Especially “These Days”, that wonderfully elegiac song about not talking, thinking, sitting around. What have I not done, what opportunities have I missed, Jackson wonders, and how could I possibly continue other than writing songs? “I had a lover/ But it’s so hard to risk an other, these days.” He can’t forget his failure. Jackson Browne wrote this song when he was sixteen, 57 years later his passion for music is unbroken – and we learn that nobody gets anywhere without failure. You don’t have to organize fuck up nights straight away to learn something from them. But what is almost as important: We could also be a little more forgiving towards them if they are not working the way we would like them to.

    On his band’s last major album, 1995’s These Days, Jon Bon Jovi sang the title track about an actress who dreams of being James Dean (not Marilyn Monroe!) and probably won’t make it, and later, when it comes to dead heroes, it reminds of Kurt Cobain’s farewell letter: “I guess I’d rather die than fade away.” In fact, like so many of Bon Jovi’s songs, this melancholic song celebrates life. The chorus says that the stars are still within reach, it’s just that there are no more ladders on the beach. We have to make an effort. “There ain’t nobody left to take the blame/ There ain’t nobody left but us these days!”

    At concerts that was the moment when all hands went up. And now I have to think about how mercilessly some people have been poking fun at the fact that Jon Bon Jovi’s voice hasn’t been that great lately. The glee was far worse than the most awful chant ever could be (and besides, even 30 years ago the man couldn’t ever get the tone right during hay fever season, but there was no YouTube then and arguably more compassion).

    And while we’re on the subject of unnecessary complaints: It’s incomprehensible how many so-called fans grumbled when Pearl Jam played “only” two hours in Berlin – after they hadn’t been on stage for years and Eddie Vedder is now approaching sixty. Next year will everyone be demanding that Bruce Springsteen still plays four hours at 73 (and all his hits, of course) because otherwise it won’t pay off? Since when do we measure concerts in minutes like they’re Guinness Book competitions?

    REM, for example, played under two hours most of the time, and afterwards we went home with a wonderful feeling that we wish we could have had so much more. Love and longing instead of pooping peas and counting currants. By the way, REM also has a song called “These Days”. It is about how we all carry our burdens, how we are all young despite the years, how hopeful despite the times. And when Michael Stipe calls out to the happy crowd: “Take this joy wherever, wherever!” he certainly doesn’t mean that we should measure this joy with a stopwatch.

    ttn-30