August 21, 2006

 

Ages of Rock

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A very good friend with whom I have an affinity regarding rock music (I confess we are incorrigible snobs) asked me this recently: Does it seem to you that the “veteran” bands of today have been around for 15 - 20+ years?

Well, my very good friend less than two years my junior, when you think that the members of bands like Pearl Jam, Blues Traveler, Phish and Dave Matthews were, like us, in their early to mid-twenties when they first broke on to their respective scenes, then they’re our age and thus approaching mid-geezerdom now. So I’m inclined to ask if time has seemed fast or slow to us in the past 15-20 years. My answer, akin to what a lot of others would say about a lot of other things more important than rock music but oh well, would be “quite fast.”

Through the years the pop of the day has never had much innovation that appeals to me. I’m automatically drawn to the rebel, the outsider, the unpopular, the counter-culture (but not always angry nor too weird). I probably would’ve hated the Beatles if I was a teen in the early sixties; perhaps a Thelonius Monk disciple or the like. Well the Beatles won the battle of my pubescent years, though quite some time after their breakup (thank God they and I did all those drugs), but now Monk’s in strong for the duration of the war.

That's the weird thing about musical tastes like yours and mine, my friend – they’re so anachronistic in terms of pop culture. Many would deem us old fashioned or behind the times, and I'd admit to a partial on both. A big reason I enjoy older tunes is for “imaginative nostalgia” - the yearning for a part of history you didn't live in. I've often thought stuff like, “I was in kindergarten when the Dead were tearing up the Fillmore” or “Man, to have seen Hendrix/Otis/Electric Flag at Monterey Pop.” Of course the principle applies less and less as time goes by and the sameness of adulthood obscures cultural reference points (the mid-90s are already a blur). I’ll be fine with fading memory taking care of the crap I didn’t like so long as my CD burner can keep up with saving the good stuff.

I am content to look toward the inspired music of the past versus the inspired music of the present as I'd see the difference between an ornate royal treasure room filled with sparkling wealth and a stainless steel bank vault filled with piles of green cash. Both are of great value, but which one am I drawn to investigate first? Right now I want to admire the beauty of the treasure, I'll count the cash later, after it turns to gold for me when mainstream culture has moved on.

Comments:
There are people who care about both, but most folks will either care about the music itself, or the pop culture itself. I was always one of the former. Like you, I'm on a voyage of discovery, but discovering something that was recorded 50 years ago is as valid as discovering something that's new today.
In high school and in college I took a lot of crap from people who felt that a band was washed up and invalid if they had been around for more than five years. I wonder... what are these people listening to now? Do they still hover over the new alternative bandsand pat themselves on the back for not giving in to "corporate music", or are they trying to squeeze a little more life out of that Bow Wow Wow disc? Did any ever come to the realization that they were fans of pop culture all along, and that the music itself never rally mattered to them?
 
I think the separation between pop-culture and music is not nearly as black-and-white as it seems, but dependent on whose pop-culture you mean.

Ferrisntance: My heyday was the late 70's early 80's, and I found myself on the outside of the whole Led Zeppelin/Fleetwood Mac/Eagles thing, and more in the Sex Pistols/X/Clash/Ramones thing. Now, while the former were most definitely the more common pop-culture nationwide, the latter were by far the more pop-culture in my little neck of LA. So, in those terms, I was right in the thick of it.

In even grander terms, all music and all pop-culture is so fluid and ethereal, that there are no divisions.

However, that being said, there is no excuse at all whatsoever for K-Fed.

Ook ook
 
Absolutely the older I get, the faster I get old.

It frightens me when I flip to the classic rock station and hear music from the 80s. It can't be 20 years old! Yet in the 80s I flipped to the classic rock station and heard music from the 60s. Seemed like a HUGE difference then.

Regarding the music/pop culture thing, sometimes they align, sometimes they don't. A lot of the most popular music in the 90s also happened to be really good music. The 80s? Not so much. The 2000s? No farooking way. I could care less whether something is popular or not; I listen for what the music does for me. But I'm also not one of those people who automatically write off an artist because of his/her/their popularity. Sometimes the masses get it right, sometimes they don't. Lucky for me, I evaluate based on my own frame of reference.

And incidentally, Joe, Slash is a damn good guitarist, like the G'N'R music or not. One who, I might add, counts Jeff Beck among his greatest influences. NEENER!
 
He should stop that...... Jeff has a good reputation, y'know.
 
So does Slash... among musicians.
 
There's so many shitty musicians out there, it's no surprise.

I can do this all year, Jeff. You aren't going to change my opinion, and I'm not trying to change yours. Deal with the fact that I think he and his music both suck.
 
I'm not trying to get you to like him. Far from it. That's the wonderful thing about music -- we make it so personal. But liking someone's music and recognizing their ability as a musician, however, are two different things. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a fan of the Dead, but I know enough about music to recoginize their abilities as musicians.

Slash is a damn good guitar player, whether you like his music or not. He can do things on a guitar that most guitarists can only dream of. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm betting you're basing your decision solely on Guns N' Roses, a band you despise. You've never seen him play live, never heard any bootlegs of him playing classical guitar, never listened to him jam. You may not ever have the desire to, and that's cool, but to then say he sucks is ill-informed. And while I may not know much about a lot, playing guitar for 27 years makes me confident enough to know if someone is good or not.
 
Jeff, everybody out there has someone that likes them, so then EVERYBODY is good, and NO ONE sucks. Therefore, for the due respect to everyone's personal opinion, no one should discuss music unless it's a technical discussion.

I don't play an n instrument but have listened intently for my ENTIRE LIFE. I have made attempts, but always ended frustrated. But I know a LOT about music and I don't have to be a musician to have a fucking valid opinion on who I think is good and who I don't think is good. After I hear someone play SHIT, I'm not going to continue listening to him throughout his career to see if he plays some of his shit WELL by technical standards.

Fine, he doesn't suck. He's the best damn guitarist since the guy from Poison.

Are we done, or do you have another reason why I can't possibly know enough to have a valid opinion?
 
Done and done.
 
Ahem... I will add this, my final two cents:

Jerry Garcia is my absolute FAVORITE guitarist. There is no other axman I would put above him in terms of who makes me feel good when I hear their playing. That said, I don't agree he should have been ranked 13th on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists list, at least not in front of the likes of Mark Knopfler (one of Jerry's own favorites), Robert Fripp, or Frank Zappa (who, ironically, I saw open for Jerry Garcia Band). On the flip side I would not have put Kurt Cobain or B.B. King in front of Garcia.

I don't know dick about Slash, but then I don't like heavy metal. I have heard that he is very talented, and trust that if he was part of such a success as GNR, there must be something to it - but "it" doesn't make me want to listen to him.

I never thought much of Sammy Hagar, but he earned points when I saw him come out and sing "Loose Lucy" with The Dead (post Garcia). I was incredulous when someone (who shall remain nameless - paradoxically hip and yet musically clueless in so many ways ;) says that Jimi Hendrix doesn't do anything for them but Bob Seger is the shiznit.

So the point is that musical tastes are, like humor (remember that conflagration, kids?), SUBJECTIVE, and so anybody's list, not just Jeff's or Joe's or Rolling Stone's, is bound to be disagreeable at several points.

Like JEFF SAID:

...liking someone's music and recognizing their ability as a musician, however, are two different things.

So I think Jerry should be #14 instead. Big deal.

Opinions are like assholes...and as several have been active here, could someone please rake the turds out of my sandbox before they leave?

=8:{ )>
 
Damn -

I'm just so totally stoked not to have been involved in this little dust-up!

But it reminds me of an incident (and I will try hard to be brief): I was listening to some Genesis one day in my dorm room (with PG --- okay, Selling England by the Pound, if you must know), and was just digging "I Know What I Like" when a friend made some comment about it being pussy music or something. He was a Hendrix guy.

I thought about firing back, but realized that music was art, and I don't know art but I know what I don't hate. So, I looked at him, smiled, and informed him that he need not listen.

Endy story.

Not sure of the point of that, but now I want to listen to Selling England again.

Though, I must say, reading disagreements in a comment section without someone automatically calling someone else an "asstard" does feel weird.

Ook ook
 
O'T -- Sorry to have gotten into a fracas in your crib. It's not my style, and I didn't intend for it to become that.

I brought my DustBuster, and the battery's fully charged.

Shall I just lock up behind me then?
 
Fez, I so respect your right to listen to whatever you want, you didn't even need to qualify which version of Genesis you were listening to.

Now if had been Phil Collins' Sussudio, that would be another matter altogether.

;-)
 
Jeff -

Had it been "Sussudio" you would be right and obligated to beat the hell out of me.

Ook ook
 
I knew what you were getting at, Kos, and I think Joe did, too. Someone must've just Slashed in his Cheerios. ;)

But there are no locks here. All are welcome at any hour to come and build as big a castle as they wish. However, there are a couple of signs on the gate:

"Ain't No Time To Hate"
"No Phil Collins"
 
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