John Adams begins The Death of Klinghoffer with this massive, swirling chorus, followed by the “Chorus of Exiled Jews.” Between centuries of Jewish diaspora, and the Palestinian diaspora, inaugurated by Israel in 1948 (when “Israel laid all to waste”), one implicitly is asked to confront, right from the beginning, the undecidable. Or, perhaps, to find a ground for reconciliation in the large fact of shared, non-repairable dispossession and loss. Deciding anything, from here on, can only take place with reference to this incalculable, embedded relation.
Of course: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” And this seeming misprision (when compared to the Kristofferson lyrics): “Nothin’ don’t mean nothin’ honey if it ain’t free.” That is: nothing only gets interesting if and when it doesn’t cost or hurt. Until then, it’s not yet the promise of nothing, but a something of negative value. Misguidedly, however, the singer seeks a home for Bobby, and eventual reunion, through barter/trade, turning away from finitude’s infinite loss/gift. Thoreauvian, in all the wrong ways (though: are there any right ones, ontologically?).
Axl Rose’s consistency as a lyricist should never be in question: beyond dispute, he is a “country” singer, regarding the city, over and over again, as a place of diaspora and loss for him. But he does not sing in the genre called “country music,” and for reasons of absolute and complete diaspora. Country boys are nice and simple folk (see “Welcome to the Jungle,” Appetite for Destruction), and such “nice boys don’t play rock and roll” (see “Nice Boys,” Lies). But, for Axl, that was long ago and far away. Rock is an index of Babylon, of corruption. “We’re lost in the garden of Eden,” and the “problem” itself is called “rock’n’roll.” But as a mere index, it has no pragmatic utility, and GN’R is not so much irresponsible as not responsible. A declaration of radically innocent corruption, then.
A ceremony for the love-less desert of relations. Whether you’re “red or yellow, black or white,” you’re already a member of the “party” constituted through loss. Never melancholic, and a dirge that’s only for “tonight.” The swaying and swooning before, via Nancy, letting love’s movement call to thought through its lack (and excess) of completion.