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Rock And Roll Heaven

In their single, “Rock and Roll Heaven”, The Righteous Brothers imagined that heaven, being full of dead rock stars, must have “a hell of a band”. For years, the notion of heaven as a sort of celestial amphitheater has captivated generations of slack-witted rock fanatics. One need only ponder the logistics for more than a second to realize this notion, however rosy, is deeply flawed and most assuredly false. In fact, if there is a “Rock And Roll Heaven”, one can rest reasonably assured that they’ve got a terrible, disorganized and awful sounding band.

Of course, there isn’t a “rock and roll heaven” any more than there is a “tool and die heaven” or a “claims adjustment heaven”. Some godless blue state residents could convincingly argue that there isn’t even a “regular heaven”.

So, let’s assume, for the sake of this piece, that there is, in fact, a rock and roll heaven. When was it established? The very second the phrase “rock and roll” was coined? Did a section of heaven previously known as “music heaven” or “colored music heaven” suddenly change its sign in a flash of light? Are there bouncers? Who watches the gate? Saint Peter? If it’s Saint Peter can you only get in if you travel with two other guys who are different than you? With all of that star-power, one would think they’d need a pretty big venue. So, the actual concert hall has got to be as big as…well, how many dead rock fans are there, anyway?...Let’s say 100 billion…so that’s like a million RFK stadiums. That’s a pretty big venue, with a lot of really crappy seats. Who gets to sit in the gold circle? Does Alan Freed, who coined the term “rock and roll”, get better seats than Sean Raleigh, a mill worker from Spokane who crashed his El Camino into a tree in 1978? Sean loved rock and roll more than his own children. Why does he get stuck in the nosebleeds?

And what about the music? Rock and roll is all about sex and drugs and itself. Heaven, being the dominion of God and Jesus, probably frowns on those subjects. Are all of the groups forced to censor themselves like they’re on the Ed Sullivan Show? Does Ed Sullivan enforce the rules himself? He’s up there, too, you know. If the Rolling Stones ever die, would they be forced to sing “Let’s Spend Some Time Together”? Is Brian Jones allowed to perform that song now or does he have to wait until the rest of the group gets there?

And once the Rolling Stones are assembled do they play with Brian Jones? Ron Wood? Mick Taylor? That black guy who plays bass now but isn’t really in the Rolling Stones? Jesus, imagine the clusterfuck when Lynard Skynard takes the stage with all fifteen of its original members and all forty-five of its subsequent members. It’ll look like some kind of backwoods hillbilly ugly pageant, all hair and beards and silly hats. Will the Grateful Dead have all seventeen keyboard players playing at the same time? Will anyone know the difference? Will there be drugs in heaven? There better be, if the Dead is going to play. Jesus may look like a Deadhead, but even he thinks the Dead sucks unless you’re way high. Does Stu Sutcliffe get to be in the Beatles again?

Remember that old Sunday School conundrum about how if you lose your leg in life, it’ll be waiting for you in heaven? Will the Stray Cats still have all of their tattoos? Will Chuck Berry be old or young? Is Elvis fat or skinny? And if he’s skinny, does that mean he can’t sing “Suspicious Minds” because he recorded it when he was getting fat? Johnny and Joey Ramone rarely spoke in the last years of their life. Are they all buddy-buddy now?

And with all of this rocking and rolling going on, when are these people supposed to find time for other heavenly pursuits like bowling and lawn darts? Is Janis Joplin allowed to take some time off to macramé or is she expected to do three shows every day without fail? If she does get time off, who fills in? Heaven never closes, either. It’s like Vegas without the strippers and Middle Eastern dudes (They’re in AllahLand).

And everyone in heaven is equal right? No one is any better than anyone else. We’re all children of God and he doesn’t favor one over the other, right? Then who keeps Mark David Chapman away from John Lennon? Or Marvin Gaye’s dad away from him? On the flip side, are there still groupies in heaven? Does John Bonham get to cram sharks in ‘em? Do they have sharks in heaven? Does Keith Moon get a hotel room that resets every time he leaves so he can trash it again? Which Cher is going to be there? The ugly 60s one? The hot 70s one? The glitzy 80s one? The serious actress one from the 90s? The plastic gay icon from the 00s? The cyborg from the 10s? The hologram from the 20s? Does Sonny get to sing with her or will he choose “Senate Heaven” instead?

When are these people supposed to practice? Is Kurt Cobain really going to want to play with Robbin Crosby from Ratt or will he sulk and pout and bitch about how lame everything is for all eternity? Is Mia Zapata going to sing some corny version of “Roll Over Beethoven” with Bill Haley, Ginger Baker and Sid Vicious? Every song is going to sound like the awkward “jams” at every Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Not to mention they won’t know what to do until Paul Schaeffer dies. Does anyone really want to hear from Jim Morrison again? Do all of the dead hillbillies who loved Dimebag really want to sit through the Beach Boys just to hear their hero shred?

Who decides if you’re allowed to play? What’s the criteria? Fame? Fortune? Record sales? Will it be harder to get some local Douchebag drummer from Indiana who ODs on meth into rock and roll heaven than getting a camel through security at a WuTang concert? That hardly seems fair. Are local Douchebags who die before they “make it” doomed to play crappy showcase gigs and Tuesday night openers for all eternity? If there really is a God, they will.

And finally, if there is a rock and roll heaven, what the fuck are all of these drug-taking, groupie-fucking degenerate rock stars doing there anyway? If there’s a rock and roll heaven, then there’s got to be a rock and roll hell, too, but that’s a whole other kettle of dogma.


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