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so you want to be a rock god?
it just takes finding your domain
by jeremiah p. iacovelli

There I was, 11 years old, standing in front of my mirror doing my best impression of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." I had a pencil for a microphone, my tape player turned down a little so I could hear my own voice, and an audience of thousands of imaginary friends rocking to the sound of my performance. I rocked that day, the critics even said so, and I was sure that even Bruce would be proud.

You know you have done this. If it wasn't Springsteen, it was Madonna, or Milli Vanilli, or maybe even New Kids on the Block. Every child dreams of stardom. Music has always been my outlet. The crunching guitars, the rolling bass line, the lyrics that make you think that at least one person in the world has felt the exact same emotion that you did. All of this together created for me a fantasy world. A world that I lived in alone when I wanted to.

Lead singers were my good friends. Their words soothed me when I was sad, inspired me when I needed inspiration, and lulled me to sleep at night. I was sheltered as a child and had few "real" friends. I spent the majority of my childhood in my room listening to whatever music I could get my hands on, living through the lives of people I had never met, somehow making up for the reality I lacked. The Top Ten at Ten, a one hour radio show to most, was like a father to me. I was raised by music. It taught me well.

Eventually, I became a real person. I went to college, made some friends, talked to other humans, and somehow found my place in society. My dreams of rock greatness were swept away by the overwhelming desire to party, and meet girls, and do things that I'm positive MTV's Jackass has ripped off from me. It was then that I bought my first guitar.

My first guitar. Entering the pawn shop was like entering a church, and the $70 dollar acoustic guitar in the back looked as if it was basking in light shining straight down from Heaven. I was in and out in a matter of minutes.

Since then, if had spent the amount of time that I spent with that guitar on any other aspect of my life, I'd be a well-rounded individual. Instead, I went back to my cave, where the music was, and began my ascent up the mountain of musicianship.

And, oh, was it a long climb! I taught myself because I couldn't afford lessons. For the first year all I wanted to do was throw that thing out the window. I couldn't form the chords, my fingers bled all the time, and I just wasn't sounding like the old Bruce... I mean... the old me.

But, then it came. One day I could play the chords, and before I knew it, I became the world's most mediocre acoustic guitarist. Maybe not. A stab at mediocrity is a more fitting term. However, I can play. And learning to play taught me a harder lesson than mastering Radiohead's "Fade Out" ever could.

I would never be a rock god.

That realization depressed me for years. Over time, though, I once again came to the conclusion that the world held other things for me, and that if I couldn't trash hotel rooms and make headlines alongside Axl Rose, I could at least become a successful person. I'd just have to do something else - and I have.

I wont tell you exactly what that is, but I will tell you this. On Christmas day of last year, I was walking out of my grandparents' house, guitar in hand, to meet up with an old college buddy. We had agreed to meet and catch up on old times and, of course, play a little guitar.

As I was walking out of the house, my grandfather said to me, "Hey, you know, in all of the years you've had that thing, you've never played for us." I looked around the room. My grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my whole family was waiting. I closed my eyes. For a moment, I was back in my room, looking in the mirror, pencil-microphone in hand, but there was no music playing. There was silence. Bruce wasn't there either. I was alone. I listened harder, and I finally caught it. I put my ear up to the speakers and in the faint, crackling of the untuned radio station was Bruce Springsteen singing "My Hometown." And then, it faded away.

I played Elvis songs for my grandma, Johnny Cash for my grandpa, and loads of Beatles songs for everyone else. When I played "Ticket to Ride" the entire family sang along. I opened my eyes and looked around the room. Eyes were watching, ears listening, bodies softly rocking. I had found my audience, and for that moment, I was a rock god. When my grandma hugged me as I was leaving I could feel the tears from her cheek on my face. My music had touched someone.

Sorry Mick, you can get satisfaction, you just have to look in the right place.


Human being.

more about jeremiah p. iacovelli


richard risman
3.8.01 @ 5:28p

This is an excellent essay in the narrative voice. It gets the reader's attention and holds it through to the end. It has its emotional highs and lows that reflect the true-life experiences of its author and presents a resolution that shows that the author knows how to begin and to end a story. -R.R.

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