Friday, September 16, 2011

Review of Henry Rollins Smile, You're Traveling

Smile, You’re Traveling by Henry Rollins was the third installment in his Black Coffee Blues, which included Black Coffee Blues and Do I come Here Often? I feel this book was the strongest in the trio. It begins with the ending of a Rollins Band tour and Henry making plans to visit Kenya - since he has thousands of frequent flyer miles. The boldness of travelling alone is inspiring in itself, but the fact Rollins captures his intense moods, the cities, the various people, is well documented. The book captured my attention. It is one I could not put down. What’s disturbing is his realization the band is finished. The audiences are not coming out to see the band, and it’s not just in the States, but in Japan as well. Japan? In Eastern Europe he packs them in. You can read the transition and the anger growing and blowing out as the tour winds up. He is a conflict of interests. One sentence he seems not to care the crowd is minimal and the other he is hurling back beer cans and threats to the idiots. There is the sense of frustration since he is upset comparing his band and himself to the success of Beck and Oasis, poser bands…posers. Fake. They all suck! The reality is his refusal to accept the audience he could count on - moved on. The kids he despises, who should be removed from airport terminals and from experiencing African vacations, are the by- products of his aging fans. HIs fans made life decisions and moved on with their lives. Henry at 35 plus ++ strives to be alone, successful in his own terms, and to be a star in an ungrateful way. Let me be clear, Rollins is genuine and a true to man. I have more respect for him now than I had before, since beyond all of his internal bickering, he suffers from depression. He doesn’t let it stop him. His voice gives out a couple of times in the tour and he had to cancel one gig in Germany, but he feels awful to see the fans come to the venue and turn away after they learn the show was cancelled. He interviews Black Sabbath and Ozzy individually and watches them practice and thinks of his departed friend Joe Cole. Henry was genuinely excited to see Sabbath. He was also excited and had his doubts he could write the liner notes for Jane’s Addiction’s live album. But, the tragic loss of Joe really has an obvious effect on Rollins since he doesn’t want to be friends with anyone, “I don’t want to like anyone too much because it’s just another thing that could be taken away from me.”

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