It is hard to describe the magnitude of the feelings that flowed through my body, as I was standing in front of the mightiest mortal muse I could think of. I am sure there was some muse-magic involved (divine this time) to make this encounter happening, because the timing was astonishing. After I had received my task, I headed home, thinking hard about the mysterious power of inspiration. I tried to recognise experiences in the past, where I felt this form of muse-magic and to detect the source of it – an exercise which I can recommend.
Of course I stumbled into the field of music. Music can have such a power and I for sure react very strongly to it. My way led me straight to X-Japan, THE Japanese hard rock/metal band from the 80’s, mother of the visual kei-style, godfather to so many other bands, producer of a sound so full of energy it empowered a whole generation. To think of X-Japan is thinking about Yoshiki, leader of the band, one of the fastest and best drummers in the hard rock business and at the same time one of the most sensitive piano players you can find onstage. Don’t let the fact that you might have never heard of him fool you. In Japan he is a superstar, a godlike figure and for my case most importantly, an empowering symbol for the troubled, wounded and broken ones – for people just like me.
But Yoshiki lives in L.A. and, again, is a superstar, which makes him unreachable for me… I thought. But then a kind of miracle happened. A friend send me a facebook-invitation to an event – the screening of the documentary “We are X”, a film about Yoshiki and his band, I wanted to see desperately. And now it would come to Vienna. Just in time to watch it before my task would end. And on the Poster I read the most surprising things of all: Q&A with Yoshiki after the screening! I rushed to the tickets-site – enough of it still available! A triple miracle!
The film by the way was touching, sad, funny and beautiful. I was clever enough to bring handkerchiefs, because there was a lot to cry along to.
The story of X-Japan does not lack drama. And a lot of information in this film Yoshiki shared for the first time, like the fact he spent a huge part of his childhood hospitalized, because of asthma (and I guess more problems, that were left unmentioned), his mother telling us, that the doctors told her after his birth, that he might not live long enough to become an adult. And for the first time he speaks about the suicide of his father, when he was just ten years old, finding him on the kitchen floor, no one telling him that he was already dead. Years of anger and suicidal behaviour followed, later manifested in musical form, clear to hear for every other wounded soul. The band rose quickly to success, but drama does not stop there. We learn only a little bit about the tensions between Yoshiki and the bassist Taiji, that lead to the day the bandleader had to fire him, because of something mysterious he had done, that Yoshiki still not wants to share. Then there is the tragedy of losing his childhood-friend, lead singer Toshi, to a cult, which was the end of the band X-Japan. Fans committing suicide – band members in desperation. Five months after their last concert, the infamous “last live”, the charismatic guitarist Hide dies under strange circumstances, that might have been suicide, but also could be a drunken accident as Yoshiki believes. Hides death hit him hard, he got depression, he quit his musician-life. He was lost, he tells us. But then there was a job-offer, he could not resist. He composed a piece for an anniversary of the Japanese emperor and performed it in front of him. He said, that in this moment, he felt like coming home – in this moment he realized, that he needs to be onstage. Tragedy strikes again, as former bassist Taiji commits suicide.
Years later the story takes a surprising turn. Of course there are a lot of people who want to see the band revived. A lot of money was offered singer Toshi for coming back, an awful lot of money as I am sure. So much money that the leader of the cult, that still controlled the life of the singer got even more greedy. Suddenly he tells Toshi that X-Japan is a good thing – after years of letting him feel horrible guilt by convincing him, that X-Japan was pure evil, spoiling the youth of Japan in its entireness and that he needs to be punished for being a part of it. The cult turns around completely, making the suffering Toshi very suspicious. They send him to L.A. to talk with Yoshiki about a reunion. They call him every ten minutes to give him the feeling, that they are still watching his every step, to give him the feeling that there is no escape. Toshi and Yoshiki don’t talk about a reunion, they talk about their childhood, about all the good times they had. And Toshi is laughing, he is laughing hard, realizing he hadn’t laughed over a decade, he hadn’t laughed since the cult took over his life. And then Yoshiki shows him the song he wrote for the occasion that his friend would come back one day. Toshi sang the song and started crying, he started crying, because he started to feel again, again realizing that he wasn’t been able to feel deeply for years and years. That was the moment the cult lost, showing very clearly why sects are in general so keen to cut every contact between their victims and their family and friends.
So, we have a happy end. X-Japan is back! They made a world tour, they are working on a studio album, and Yoshiki is promoting the film “We are X” all around the world, making a tour through Europe right now. But of course, there is new drama as well. Headbanging through his younger years, Yoshiki has contracted a spinal trauma, leading to a lot of pain in his arms and even paralysations. After the world tour it got so bad, that he couldn’t walk anymore, so he had to have a surgery. He is still in recovery and he can play the piano, but he is not sure, if he will ever be able to play the drums again.
So there he was in front of me. In real life. With all of his pain and all of his strength. A powerful mortal muse – and not only for me, as the Q&A session showed. I could see it very clearly – this man does not only inspire to do art, he also inspires to survive. And I knew, I just recognised something important about the way of the muse.