As fathers we find camaraderie with each other in a different way we would finding friends when we were single. We find that commonality to discuss the trials of poop-filled diapers, the lack of sleep and if it’s cool to have your own diaper bag or not (AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have a Diaper Dude bag and it’s awesome). At one point, McKagan writes about the struggles of Scott Weiland (lead singer of the supergroup Velvet Revolver in which McKagan was part of) has with his recurring drug addiction. Weiland came to McKagan for help and he writes, “This guy’s a dad, I thought. In fact, I had originally become friends with Scott because we had that in common: we were fathers. I agreed to help”. The power of fatherhood runs deep, even with rock stars.
On one of the last pages in Duff McKagan’s autobiography, It’s So Easy and other lies, he delivers a poignant line that all fathers can appreciate.
“The true essence of manhood was now clear: being a caring husband and father,” he writes.
This is coming from a member of arguably one of the biggest rock and roll bands of all time. After 12 years of partying across the globe, selling over a hundred million records and living the epitome of a rock and roll lifestyle, the original bassist of Guns ‘N Roses found clarity in two very simple things in life. Sound familiar?
As a tremendous fan, I was excited to read It’s So Easy and other lies for the tales about the wild times McKagan had while in G N’ R and his view on their ultimate break-up. His rags-to-riches story was plucked straight out of a Hollywood movie. He left his native Seattle to head to L.A. to follow his dream of being a rock star. In L.A., he met a guitarist who went by the name of “Slash” and shortly afterwards the rock and roll world changed forever. Similar to other biographies of rock stars that have cheated death and delved into the dark underworld of drugs, alcohol and other vices, McKagan recounts these stories in great detail pulling no punches to tell his side of the story. It took a near-death experience for McKagan to put his life in order. Through the help of holistic medicine, mountain-biking and a world-famous Ukidokan fighter, he rises like a phoenix from the proverbial ashes and sets his life in the right direction.
To put his lifestyle in perspective, McKagan recounts in It’s So Easy and other lies a story where he joins one of his friends to watch football with a crew of professional mountain bikers. They are all hung over and one of the bikers says, “We partied like rock stars last night!” McKagan, laughing tells the crew how much he drank, the rocks of cocaine he shoved up his nose leaving him with no septum, throwing up from drinking too much and then drinking the throw-up because there was alcohol in it. The same biker’s jaw dropped and his only response was, “Yeah, we partied like mountain bikers last night.”
It’s in the final chapter of It’s So Easy and other lies, titled “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” (the title of a song by Johnny Thunders, one of McKagan’s biggest influences), where McKagan pens the joys of fatherhood. At the birth of his first daughter, McKagan describes his wife as “owning the warrior spirit of ten men” after fifteen excruciating hours of labor. He writes, “Now life makes sense … I was here to be the father of a baby girl, and I was, at last, ready for it.” For most new dads, the clarity of becoming a father yields a newfound responsibility and a world full of road bumps we aren’t sure we can handle. For McKagan, this new challenge was one he welcomed with open arms.
While a lot of It’s So Easy and other lies talks of his humbling situations ranging from not remembering playing a show in Prague to downing 10 bottles of wine a day (yes, that’s 10 BOTTLES), his anecdotes as a father are quite relatable. From trying to understand why his daughter needs lip gloss on a hike in the woods to entering the taboo world of discussing sex with them, he describes it as “sometimes I just have to run up the white flag of surrender. I just wasn’t going to understand it all.”
This authentic and honest tale McKagan spins is a must-read for any father who has ever listened to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” or has, like McKagan, walked into their child’s room and found it difficult to “wrap my head around the fact that in that ever-growing pile of debris on the floor someone could actually find something to wear, or, in at least one case I witnessed, something to eat.”