I still can sit and listen for hours to songs such as Stairway to Heaven, Bohemian Rhapsody, November Rain, Every Rose Has its Thorn. These songs and others by some of the great hard rock groups and "hair-bands" strike a deep nostalgic chord within me. It makes no sense; most of these songs are about old girlfriends, one-night stands, and poisonous habits, things I have little experience with. There's nothing in them that I can personally relate to.
Yet I had many friends (in my younger days) who did have some experience with these things, and songs like these gave me some insight into feelings they had which they rarely shared openly. I could understand them and why they did what they did. Music like this kept me from rejecting some very good friends just because I disapproved of their behavior; instead I stayed with them, trying to offer guidance when I could, and setting a good example. But it never would have worked if we didn't also have common ground.
In all of these songs, the Narrator (for lack of a better term) is an outcast, a misfit, someone who is not successful and not popular. I think my friends and I identified with that most of all, since we were the band geeks, the gamer geeks, or just plain geeks. We were not 'in,' and our beauty was often apparent only to ourselves. The ballads of my youth helped us get through those days when we waited for a change, even if we didn't know what it was. Maybe the maturity level of everyone else had to catch up with our own; maybe we had to really grow up ourselves. We did; we moved on to college or the workforce, where everyone is equally idealistic and forgiving or equally miserable. I've grown older now, and I have a wonderful wife and family to be my emotional crutch.
But I still like the ballads, and easily fall for new ones, like Lips of an Angel. They inspire a nostalgia in me for a time that I don't necessarily want to return to, but nevertheless had its joys and its sorrows. They remind me that things don't really change; they remain anthems for lonely groups of kids waiting for something, even if they don't yet know what it is.