Guns N’ Roses wasn’t the first band that I got completely wrong; in fact, I have quite a history of missing the bus early on.
Here are a few of the many artists I initially hated but for whom I developed a genuine fondness:
The Beastie Boys: I liked Polly Wog Stew all right, but when License to Ill came out I loathed the Beasties. There was nothing about that album that did it for me.
And then Paul’s Boutique dropped and I had to admit that they were simply awesome. The Beasties remain in my power rotation.
Iron Maiden: My beef with Maiden was based on two very superficial things: Their mascot, Eddie, and the guys in my school who liked Maiden. They didn’t come anymore redneck in Boiling Springs, South Carolina than Iron Maiden fans.
Eventually I got out of my own way and listened to the band, and they were great. Go figure.
Johnny Cash: Johnny Cash was an old guy, and he was country, and he had a TV show. What the hell did I care about Johnny Cash? I had KISS records to listen to.
Yeah, I was an idiot.
Oasis: When “Live Forever” dropped all I heard was another cruddy pop single. It took a while, but I finally got it.
Bruce Springsteen: I was 8 or so when Born to Run came out, but I remember the hype about Bruce being the next big thing. It just sounded like more radio music to me — pleasant enough, but disposable.
I still think that’s true of Bruce’s most popular songs: “Hungry Heart,” “Born in the USA,” “Glory Days,” etc. But man, when I heard Nebraska for the first time I was sold.
Al Green: I had so many biases against the Rev, and “The Rev” was the first of them. How is a Guy In Black Tee Shirt Who Jams supposed to like a reverend? Come on!
Now Al is in my power rotation. I can’t get enough.
The White Stripes: Jack and Meg hit my “if the hipsters like it then it must suck” button. I’m a horrible joiner, and when everybody jumped on the White Stripes bandwagon I tossed up a roadblock and refused to listen to them.
Honestly, I’m still kind of that way about Jack White, but there’s no denying the music:
Flight of the Conchords: I caught my first episode of Flight of the Conchords while sitting in a hotel in San Francisco. I don’t remember laughing once, but I came back for another episode anyway. Thank goodness. Not only was the show brilliant, but these guys make great songs.
Sammy Davis, Jr.: I grew up in the seventies and eighties, when Sammy was all gold chains, talk shows, and “let me tell you something about this cat, and I mean this, man.” He was a caricature, always laughing too hard at Frank’s jokes, jangling his jewelry, and kissing Archie Bunker.
Somewhere along the line, though, I dropped my guard and the brilliance of the Sam Man got through to me. The cat was enormously talented, and I mean that, man.
Lenny Kravitz: When Lenny’s first album dropped he was “Mr. Lisa Bonet,” and his sound was faux hippy. I turned my nose up at Let Love Rule as a bad Beatles knockoff, and then I doubled down on that opinion when Kravitz claimed not to be a Beatles fan.
And then I saw Lenny open for Bowie and he was great, so I actually listened to the album rather than making snotty comments. It rocked, I loved it, and I had to admit that I was an asshole.
The last Lenny Kravitz album I really loved was Are You Gonna Go My Way, but honestly if the only thing the guy ever made was the brilliant Mama Said he’d still be aces.
There’s a handful of mea culpas for you. What artists were you completely wrong about? I’m listening.
Categories: Deep Cuts