The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

14 March 2004

Two days burying the cats

Rock and roll, says Dean Esmay, is dead. Not resting, not pining for the fjords: dead.

It is, I think, wholly impolitic for someone of my age to endorse a claim such as this: as one of those hated Baby Boomers, I run the risk that anything I say on the subject will be interpreted as an expression of proprietary interest, yet another example of how, um, my generation still thinks it rules the goddamn world even as it teeters on its walkers on the way to the grave.

Still, almost anyone of any age beyond twenty-five or so believes somewhere in his heart of hearts that everything that's been inflicted on us by the music industry since he got out of college truly and deeply sucks, and neither Dean nor I is immune to this notion. My own thinking is that when we're younger, the music isn't just the soundtrack to our existence: it's woven into the fabric of our selves, and cannot be separated without unraveling everything that we know, everything that we are. As we get older, more settled, maybe less emotional, the music recedes somewhat into the background: we take note of it, we may even be fond of it, but it isn't part of us anymore.

The music industry has aided and abetted this situation by fragmenting itself beyond all understanding. In the Sixties, there were maybe half a dozen music formats on the radio. Today, there are genres, subgenres, even sub-subgenres — does anyone other than a radio consultant know the exact point where CHR/Pop ends and CHR/Rhythmic begins? — all motivated by desperation in the guise of "research." Inevitably, this rush toward differentiation ultimately repels the audience; except for a few 12-year-olds of varying ages, people's musical tastes span a range far wider than anything you'll hear on any single radio station, commercial or otherwise. And so we push another button, and another consultant is hired to explain why, and the cycle repeats. (Not even classical stations are immune to this, as anyone who has heard me grumble, "Jeez, Saint-Saëns' Organ Symphony again?" can testify.)

I refuse, however, to get more than a trifle ruffled over this. I have my music (literally thousands of CDs and records) and my memories (which I can't even begin to count). The industry can shovel out whatever crap it wants; while the task of finding good new stuff is made more difficult, the joy of the good old stuff is not diminished in the slightest. My children — and their children — will eventually figure this out for themselves.

Posted at 9:33 AM to Tongue and Groove


SOMEbody's getting old. Hahaha. While the amount of crap on the radio is amazing, it isn't any more craptastic than whatever has been on the radio playlists for decades. You have to go to recordings. Screw the radio. Anyway, speaking of Kids Today, at work last night I was talking about (ok, ranting about) how Hall and Oates are probably one of the most amazing duos of the past few decades. Whether you agree or not isn't the problem here. The problem is, it was hard to find anyone there who knew who Hall and Oates were. I am not just talking about a bunch of high school kids, either. One guy around 27 never heard of them. Then some high school girl asked me if I'd heard of The Clarks. I said no, but I heard of The Smiths (and felt dirty with that knowledge).. Then I said, "You know, I'm not talking about some obscure underground band here. I'm talking about mainstream as KC and the Sunshine Band." I got more blank stares.

Terkish Payne, the focal point of blank stares for years.

Posted by: Terkish Payne at 11:15 AM on 14 March 2004

<blank stare>

Posted by: McGehee at 11:32 AM on 14 March 2004

Well, at least no one pitched a pizza at you. Or did they? (and you forgot to mention it?)

Posted by: wamprat at 12:21 PM on 14 March 2004

I must point out that I still listen to new music, and still like a good bit of it.

It's just not rock music anymore. You won't find much of any rock on the radio that isn't on an oldies station.

I miss it, but I'm not pining for the old days. I'm just telling you, rock's dead as a major cultural force. The kids today who want to rebel and be different listen to rap, not rock. Rock listeners are in their 30s and above, mostly, with some kids here and there who like the old stuff.

I don't think new music is crap at all. I really dig stuff like Kid Rock, who still does a little rock amidst his country and his rap. But I live in a big city, and in my trips up and down the radio dial, I can tell you that one thing is stunningly obvious: there is no rock music being played that isn't oldies.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at 2:30 PM on 14 March 2004

Well, one caveat: the new rock music that does come out, what little of it there is, is by groups like Metallica and U2 who have been around for 20+ years and are veteran mainstays.

Hey. Sinatra had his last hit record in the early 1980s. Tony Bennett is still working. But that's the stage rock has reached I'm afraid.

I can accept it. I'm not mad about it. ;-)

Posted by: Dean Esmay at 2:32 PM on 14 March 2004

I think the last Rock and Roll band (with mostly new tunes) I've heard was The Ramones. Rock is different than Rock and Roll, so that's why them and not some other band. The Ramones weren't punk or new wave, they were rock and roll, more than anything else.

Terkish Payne, I don't even get blank stares when I mention them.

ps-no, wamprat, no pies slung at me. that would be food cost waste, and we can't have that, it's an economic thing. ask your eldest.

Posted by: Terkish Payne at 5:04 PM on 15 March 2004

So Terkish Payne understands why I say I like both kinds of music, Rock and Roll.

Closest thing being created by current young bands would be Rockabilly; groups like BR5-49 definately rock, even if they are too country for the aging purists.

Posted by: triticale at 7:53 AM on 16 March 2004