ALL I KNOW IS IT’S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL TO ME

rock

I suppose there is a legitimate place in the world for rock critics, as there is for critics of other artistic genres. But usually in those genres pretentiousness is inherent to the process.

Remember, it’s “Sex, Drugs, And Rock and Roll” the third and musical part designed to enhance and elaborate on the first two elements.

In 1998 I toured the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. In a small theater a film was shown depicting the evolution of muisc into what became known as rock and roll. A large part of rock’s Jurassic period was the tunes and instruments brought to the New World by the Scots-Irish, settling in the mountainous regions of Appalachia.

Out of that grew the ballads and folk tunes some of which are still sung today though in different forms with a distinguishable context. In turn that music was adapted, modified and retuned into Blue Grass, Country, and Country and Western.

Exposure to black music from the Mississippi Delta blues to the urban blues of the Chicago sound morphed into more rhythmic enhancements that Southern hillbillies, reared on country, stole for their rockabilly sound. Sometimes the rockabilly folk stole the blues or rhythm songs directly from the black which caused discerning whites to seek out the originals, usually…but not always…more talented and better.

Deejays such as Alan Freed and Porky Chedwick, played these “race records” on the radio and broadened the audience even more. Kids, always in rebellion against their parents in post World War II America, made these race records commercially viable enabling black artists such as Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Little Richard to cross over to the mainstream,.

Yet the parents and civil authorities sought to repress this music. Their repression was spawned in racism as they detertmined, probably with not a lot of deep psychological introspection, that the music appealed to sexual urges which would lead to miscegenation with black guys getting into the pure white panties of virginal (that’s a laugh) white teen girls. Since the black musical culture was known for its drug use, thanks to Harry Anslinger’s persecution of Billie Holliday and others, you had the twin bete noires of sex with Negroes and drug addiction interningled now with the rise of the Alan Freed declared ROCK AND ROLL, to scare the shit out of parents of the 1950’s.

But lo, those teens graduated from high school to go on to college or enter the work force or the miliatry and their younger brothers and sisters in the 1960’s (such as I) went full Monty on the rock, made a zillionaire out of a black man running a recording studio…Berry Gordy of Motown, of course…and then took to long haired invaders from foreign lands.

Vietnam was the first war with its own soundtrack that featured no conventional artists like the white bread big bands and torch singers of World War II or the Goerge M. Cohan jingoistic rallying singalongs of the War to End All Wars.

No, these were blacks and longhairs accompanying our troops into the trenches who also indulged in a big way in banned substances while simultaneously seeking out the bar girls of Saigon or Bangkok.

Sex drugs and rock and roll were a cojoined fact in a war that quickly became political enough to cause thousands of budding young writers to declare rock an art form worthy of interpretations of great insight which…if one were to fairly evaluate them… would reveal thier own bullshit quota had been reached by the second paragraph.

Not that rock music is incapable or unworthy of a serious critique. And true, many rock songs carried anti-war or racial equality, or pro drug use messages, but the deepest songs still required a beat and a certain feel to be popular and produce multi-millionaires from the populists who made the music.

My concern here is a piece I just read looking at the new Mumford And Sons album, Wilder Mind. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/music_box/2015/05/mumford_and_sons_wilder_mind_reviewed_new_album_ditches_the_banjos_and_vests.single.html

Perhaps it’s me since I’m admittedly stuck in decades past for most of my preferred listening, but this review is inclined neither to move me towards purchase of or listening to the recording or send me screaming in the opposite direction away from it. Instead I almost wish I was in the author’s presence to stifle his mad descent into meaninghless comparisons and obscure references and just tell me whether the damned thing might be as pleasant to listen to as has been my experience with minimum exposure to prior Mumford And Sons efforts.

In fact, the group was on David Letterman last night playing one of the new tunes and I enjoyed it. Just as I have enjoyed other of their works on the maybe fifteen times they have appeared in my living room thanks be to the miracle of television.

ENOUGH ALREADY!

I generally get my fill of new groups or new songs on late night TV, especially Letterman. But, while I glanced at some articles highly favoring a recent Taylor Swift album, when I saw her perform an excerpt on Letterman I just wanted to throw a shoe at her.It was trite and repetitious and over over dubbed and largely a piece of crap. Sort of how I feel about Seasons In The Sun by Terry Jacks.

Now this approaching 70 year old butt can still be moved to move (not as fast nor as long, to be sure) when the muisc gets to me. I also find meaning in much of MY music that is evocative of a certain time or place…or ex-girlfriend…or speaks to my conscience, such as U2‘s Pride (In The Name Of Loveor Springsteen’The Ghost Of Tom Joad.

But I love those songs for their sonic effect first of all and wonderful music’s sonic effect on me means I feel it in my bones. Dvorak‘s From The New World, especially the fourth movement, causes me to tingle just as much as the Stones‘ Jumpin Jack Flash. I don’t need some inflated ego self-appointed expert to tell me why or f it should.

Or maybe I’m just an old Fogie?

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Comments

  • toadsly  On May 7, 2015 at 4:01 PM

    I prefer Dvorak’s second movement.

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