Jake E Lee Manifesto
Jake E Lee,
My very first guitar hero
You had it all figured out, man
You had your scales down
You had your hair long
and you wore different colored Converse high tops
on your feet
You were the first virtuoso that I found it super-easy to relate to
I knew my scales!
I had long hair that covered my face like a frosted tipped suit of armor!
I had different colored Converse too!
I was new to everything back then, and until I found you
it’d never occured to me to jumble up the notes like that
a solid blending of fresh chaos into an understandably melodic order
that if I played it all fast enough, it had the power to fend off
the existential dread that had been kicking the shit out of my nerves
since I was 6 years old
Which is a miracle really, because back then
that first time I heard The Ultimate Sin
I just had feelings, I had no idea that these feelings
had names like existential dread
Jake E Lee,
You goddamn genius, you
It never occured to me to wear both pairs of shoes at the same time
Black shoe’d high top on one foot!
Blue shoe’d high top on the other!
The world feels so much more bearable like that!I had Charvels when I was 17 and played in my first bar band with a bunch of 20 and 30 year old geezers, because you played Charvels back then and you were playing in a big arena band with Ozzy, who was basically a geezer
You had a white one and a blue one
I had one they called Black Cherry, which was basically a sparkly
hair metal version of dark purple
and then I had a white one two
You were smarter than me, you hung on to your Charvels while I ended up selling mine to a Longmont pawn store because I’d quit playing in all the bands and had recently moved to Colorado and I was broke
I’d lost faith in the shredding and turned away from your teachings
I allowed the chaos to take over, to the point where it looked like
the heartbreak would win
But it didn’t win, Jake E Lee
Even though you eventually dropped out of the scene after Badlands broke up and disappeared for a considerable number of years and stopped recording albums
and after Helen, I dropped out of the scene for a considerable number of years
and stopped publishing books
The horrible things that are always trying to win at everything, they didn’t win because you came back! You’ve got a new band now and your playing again
So I’m coming back too! I’ve got a new book that’s almost finished and I’ve picked up a new Charvel, one born in the plague year of 2020, It’s black and it’s goddamn perfect
It’s like playing into oblivion
and now I believe again
Jake E Lee,
Love played me like a Mr. Big song
Not their lone hit, the soft ballad
Love played me like one of their flashy technically proficient
hammered on note-orgy tunes
Love played me like the intro to Addicted To That Rush
until my pickups screamed and all my strings hurt
I thought I was a gonner, but I wasn’t a gonner
I listened to those opening guitar swells in You’ll Never Know Why We Rock
and you saved me again!
Jake E Lee,
We turn to you in these times of heartbreak and organic eating Q-anon Trumpatriots in face paint and horned-hat-capital-breachers treasoning at the behest of a bloated daddy’s boy in a parachute suit, because you know how to Bark At The Moon
Where others require whammy bars, Jake E Lee, you dig in and bend the goddamn neck
Willpower over tremolo, Green Lantern style
Sometimes the divebombs come with consequences
instruments inevitably break
and Marie Osmond winds up being the new Ed McMan
and we’ve reached the point where the internet is reading the internet to us
but that doesn’t mean we have to give up hope!
You taught me that!
Jake E Lee,
You recorded an entire guitar album
about the horrors of nuclear war
George Lynch had your job in Ozzy
before you even had the chance to audition
but you auditioned anyway and you took it way from him
You played your instrument so well
George Lynch had to pack up his amplifiers and join Dokken
Dream Warriors my ass…….
You were friends with the guitar player in Ratt!
A blatant symbol of unity!
Maybe we can all learn to get along with rats!
It won’t be easy
Their lead singer is a complete dick
but if we slow down the lyrics to Round And Round like Ryan Adams did
we’ll find that they’re actually quite moving
Jake E Lee, I’ve written down these things that you’ve taught me
and I’m naming the manifesto after you!
Live each chord of life with your thumb on the second fret holding down that low F# note
Smile because your shoes don’t match
When the Ozzys of the world screw you out of songwriting credits and residuals, tell all the Ozzbournes to go fuck themselves and start your own band
When you gotta get drunk when you’re doing interviews, get drunk during all of the interviews
Walk around your old apartment as if you were still on tour
Fuck like it was the 1980’s!
Fuck like you’ll never go bald again!
Fuck like a time machine strapped to a groupy!
Fuck until you fall dick first into the multiverse!
Fuck like she still loves you!
Fuck like the end doesn’t win everything!
Fuck despite the fact that everything’s mortal and we’ve already lost that war!
–written for the January 19, 2021 Bomb