Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Let There Be Rock

To quote Joan Jett, I love rock and roll.
Which, I know, makes me about as unique as a grain of sand. It is the music of my generation, shared and adored by millions of baby boomers, gen x-er’s. millenials and whatever other demographic is out there of anyone under 65 years old. My son - born in 1994 - loves rock and roll, and now boasts having every Beatles song ever recorded on his iphone. Proud papa me. My song list includes the Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, The Who, Korn, Nirvana, Average White Band, Soundgarden, Fatboy Slim, name but a few.
Rock and roll came of age in 1995. Why? Because that’s when a Hall of Fame was opened to honor the greats of this genre, on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio. That, to me, defined it's arrival - a shrine built to house the greats.
I have been to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame many times, and I still love going there. You are greeted by a giant ‘teacher’ from Pink Floyd’s The Wall hanging from the ceiling ever reminding you that ‘If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!’ The exhibits are fantastic - under glass is the original manuscript of Born To Run, written on notebook paper by Bruce Springsteen. Over there is Janis Joplin’s Mur-say-deez Benz…the Lord did indeed bought her one. In another section you get the geographical influences, from The Eagles representing SoCal to Booker T and The MG’s representing Memphis. A piece of the fuselage from the plane that Otis Redding tragically died in is on display.
However, the R&R HOF is not without controversy. There are a number of individuals/bands that have not been inducted, such as Chicago and Rush, and others that have been whose induction has been questioned, like Leonard Cohen and Madonna.
It is Madonna’s induction that seems to really make people go postal. Madonna? SHE’S NOT ROCK AND ROLL!
Okay, fair enough. Then I have one simple question for you  -
Define Rock & Roll.
What exactly 'is' it? A sound? A lifestyle? Both?
Unlike other musical genres, rock & roll really has no definition. And when you go to the R&R HOF and see the exhibits of the early influences, you see why. It was the bastard stepchild of gospel, delta blues & country, basically. Poor blacks were creating a sound that was later cribbed by Elvis Presley. Early country artists like Hank Williams (SENIOR, thank you very much) were influencing it. It even has the influences of Caribbean, Afrikaan and Big Band. Throw all that together, shake your hips violently, toss in some pyro and good drugs, and voila. Rock and roll. It's sort of like when that judge tried to define pornography by saying 'I know it when I see it'. That's rock & roll - a mindset on an individual level that changes from person to person.
So what does that have to do with the R&R HOF? Everything. Cuz that's what you find there. A little bit of everything. Including Madonna.
Because, to me, the ‘mindset’ aspect of rock & roll is, it’s an all-inclusive party. It is the furthest thing from intellectual snobbery you can find. It is come one come all, stop that grinnin’ and drop that linen, let yourself GO revelry. Rock out with your cock out. It’s a dead man’s party, leave your body at the door.
And to that I say, effin-a right. Nobody, not even the cops, was ever kept out of a rock and roll party. So hell yes. Madonna should be in there. While you’re at it, put Donna Summer in there too -  she’s up for nomination this year. I didn’t care for disco, but it got me laid. So should Donna get in I will recall my bell bottom polyester slacks, airport-hangar-wide lapel shirts, and Love Hangovers.

Just keep KISS out. Because they suck.
I still have standards, ya know.


Gary V. said...

I agree Jerry, with a couple of exceptions.

Rap music - Rap is Crap with the preceeding "C" removed, and has no reason being classified with Rock-n-Roll. The only this Rock about Rap is "dat be what they be smokin."

Hip-Hop - Can keep hip-hoppin right out of existence. Listening to all the homey's ranting and raving about some stupid violent shit has no musical quality whatsoever.

Jerry B said...

I can appreciate the sentiments about rap, but there is no disputing the influence each has had on the other - early rap used rock samplings, which has morphed into rock bands with rap influence. Think 311 or Faith No More. Hell man, even Rush does a rap in the middle of Roll The Bones!

Michael said...

Boy Jerry, I know your a liberal but Madonna? Donna Summer? Rock and Roll. Some one needs to call you a doctor, to quote Van Halen.
Rock and Roll may have had it's genesis in the back water delta blues amongst other regional musical styles. But it evolved into unique genre that Madonna a great artist in her own right just can't hold a candle to.
However it took on a life of its own it's kind of like a cucumber, once it becomes a pickle it can never go back. The same is true for Rock and Roll. Disco, pop, adult contemporary, nah, not happening.
The American Heritage Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary both define rock and roll as synonymous with rock music. Encyclopaedia Britannica, on the other hand, regards it as the music that originated in the mid-1950s and later evolved "into the more encompassing international style known as rock music."
And, by the way, Kiss has been awarded 24 gold albums to date, the most of any American rock band. The band has sold more than 40 million albums in the United States, of which 20 million have been certified by the RIAA, and their worldwide sales exceeds 100 million albums. So much for they suck.