The first time I heard “Welcome to the Jungle,” by Guns ‘N Roses, I was hooked. If Axl wasn’t such a ding dong (a ding dong with writing skills, that is), they’d have gone on to be one of the greatest bands of all time. As it stands, they’re a little further down the list than I’d like.
In 1991 Izzy Stradlin, the rhythm guitarist, quit. It was mighty tough to clean up his act when surrounded by the heavy drinking and drugging taking place on the road. For him, the thrill was gone. At the time, I couldn’t fathom the idea of leaving that band. Fame. Money. An endless river of beer! Put up with Axl, I thought. You’re famous. I bought his first solo album, Izzy Stradlin and the JuJu Hounds, and began caring less about Guns and more about Izzy. It was clear that Izzy was Guns ‘N Roses. Axl was Axl, but Izzy’s fingerprints were all over those songs. Without him, legendary status was out the window. And what happened? It fell apart.
In the years that followed, I figured out something beyond the Izzy Stradlin songwriting I liked so much. I figured out Izzy. I, too, found myself working a job that simply brought me down. It was positive work. It was upstanding. It was comfortable. But I was unhappy. That’s no way to live. As I stood there admiring the cajones it must have taken for Izzy to walk away, I was inspired.
Life is too short to not have a beer job. I wasn’t rich or famous, and it felt a somewhat bolder move when one has a family to consider. I quit. A wave of relief smacked me over the head like a sizeable wet carp. I’ve always been a dedicated and hard worker, and that’s what kept me in my job rut for so long. But there’s a difference between quitting and moving on. Moving on was very freeing.
Life takes many twists and turns, and recently I have taken another turn. Friday was my last day of the beer job I enjoyed so much: doing sales for The Duck-Rabbit. Even though I enjoyed my job, I feel good about the departure. It’s a family-geared decision, and one that does not feel like an albatross or a rut. Any day of the week, my family takes precedence over beer.
Today, I am a homebrewing, freelancing gardener.
Tonight, satisfied, I raise my glass to Izzy Stradlin. He’s no William Wallace, but to me, he represents freedom.