By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
A virus is currently spreading among today's young people. If left unchecked, it could have the far-reaching effect of rendering an entire generation between ages 20 and 40 culturally stagnant.
It can't be prevented with a face mask—although earplugs would be a step in the right direction—but what's most tragic is that the young are enthusiastically welcoming it into their homes, cars and iPods. Even, after a few shots, into their karaoke parties.
This infestation is called classic rock. And it needs to be stopped.
Back when your folks were young, do you think they were listening to their dad's Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller records? Hell no. They were forging their individualism through Janis Joplin and The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.
Their music fit the times; it was fun to smoke weed and drop acid to, and it bled into their politics, art and literature. Yeah, it could be reductive and corny, but it was theirs.
Then they grew up and got into cocaine and facial hair, but still liked to party. They picked up AC/DC and Rush LPs, maybe a little Electric Light Orchestra now and then. These new jams may not have been saving the world, but they were expanding consciousness, and again, it was theirs.
Yet somehow, all these years later, hippie, prog and arena rock still dominate the guitar-based non-country airwaves. According to recent figures from New Hampshire-based trade publication Inside Radio, there are 485 classic-rock stations in the U.S., compared to 171 modern-rock stations (Slipknot, Linkin Park), 369 adult-alternative rock stations (Death Cab for Cutie, David Byrne) and 312 rock stations (Metallica, Van Halen). Meanwhile, moldy old-timers like Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles and Neil Diamond dominated the list of top-grossing 2008 concert acts.
Young people who subsist on classic rock are traitors to their contemporaries. The flower children had their time in the sun, and it's frankly rather sick that we're still worshipping their musical icons. And we can't go blaming Clear Channel for people's shitty taste, either, as so many stoned media-studies majors are wont to do.
"If only the corporate radio suits would stray from the formula," they cry, American Spirit cigarettes ashing onto their ironic beards, "the American cultural landscape would radically transform—overnight!—into a diverse mecca of sounds and styles."
Rather, the fault lies with the lazy listeners. As our baby-boomer parents head into retirement, we're taking over as the dominant consumers of media and listening to the same crap they did—and do. According to Cathy Devine, vice president of research for Inside Radio, our age group is an essential slice of classic-rock radio's target demographic. She adds, anecdotally, that we appear to constitute a significant percentage of its concert attendees as well.
Don't get me wrong, anyone without a working knowledge of Blonde on Blonde and Rumours is missing out. But the 1,500th listen to "Start Me Up" really should involve grown men crying. Our generation has no lack of quality artists, but the vast majority of us are too lazy to seek them out.
Think of it this way: Probably every other person sharing your WiFi connection at the coffee shop right now knows the lyrics to "You Shook Me All Night Long," but how many of them can sing along with a single song by My Morning Jacket, TV on the Radio, Joanna Newsom, Of Montreal or any of the other best rock artists of our era?
There are plenty of places to find cutting-edge music, often for free. Besides left-of-the-dial radio stations, there are Web-based and satellite radio, MP3 sites and plenty of others. Members of the so-called Internet age have no excuse for listening to classic rock other than sheer brainwashing from our parents.
This is generational warfare, and we're losing. So let's fight back. Turn off the Jethro Tull. Walk out of dinner parties where the host puts Heart on the stereo. Bolt at the mere mention of foxy ladies.
Huey Lewis be damned, let's drive a stake through the heart of classic rock and roll until it is no longer beating. Stop kickin' down the cobblestones and, for God's sake, stop feeling groovy.
Interesting. I am 30 and grew up on what is considered "classic" rock today. I don't like new music. I just left a Fleetwood Mac concert. Pretty sure they are a better band than most of the new bands out there. Maybe the new bands should take inspiration from classic bands, and maybe do a little coke. My generations music is considered classic now. So I'll be the old person rocking out to my "classic" Alice In Chains tunes, pissing off the youngsters, apparently. And not the new AIC stuff, the Staley years, when they were good.
Listen, mother fucker. 80's music was so good that many songs in the modern time are based on them, like The Time by Black Eyed Peas. Rock music is so much better than today's shitty music. The music everybody listens to today is pure crap and you are a dumb fuck who doesn't know shit about real music. Many sons by Queen, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and many other bands, are classics, people in those times knew how to sing, today any shit head can sing. You are right about how times change, but music has changed for the worst. So suck my big-fat-dick you ignorant bastard.
This absolutley crap, no offense...You haven't mentioned both sides of the story. You say that people who are in their 20's and 30's have no imagination and are lazy for listening to the best music of all time...Most music now days, doesn't really have much to it...the artist are kind of lazy and have no imagination. Plus the "popular" "rock" "artists" you name off, I havent even heard of... Rock is dead, that is why so many people won't let the good stuff get away. You can only here the same scenario 100 times by the modern artists until you want to shoot yourself... Mr. Ben Westoff, if you want to convince people to go against something, atleast give them both sides...
Classic Rock Stations. What is that code for? Well, its code for 75 radio stations owned by some fat guy who has about as much interest in music as his waist line. Let's face it, classic rock falls into the same category as flat beer, bus station coffee and Mom's Day Old Donuts. Its crap. But people tune in because an independent radio station is as rare as a high school virgin. Sure you might find one, an independent radio station I mean, but it will sound fuzzy and not just because the owner doubles as DJ between bouts of milking and plowing. We have become a nation of multi-taskers, more formally referred to as neurotic train wrecks, hell bent on holding it together with pop tarts, microwave popcorn, reality shows and sitcom re-runs. So why the big surprise when we tune into The Beatles on station after station, as we race madly across America, frantically trying to escape the classic rock invasion while chowing down on a Big Mac and salty fries. Stop and think for a minute. Most are just too damn cheap, refusing to turn the radio off, go to a music store and buy music that they find enjoyable. Why settle for lite beer? Make the fat guy sweat for a change. But you know as well as I do, that, that will never happen. Not in a million years. Why? Because people are too tight and would rather sit through life watching sitcom re-runs, eating oil drenched potato chips from the bag instead of driving through life with the top down listening to music that puts a smile on their face. Because the best things in life are free, right, like classic rock radio.
Johnny TransistorMay 29, 2009
I just read your article, "Classic Schlock" I have to disagree with your stance. Now before you think I am an Oldie Olderson defending my generation's music, I must tell you that I am 29. While I enjoy some of the artists you seem to champion (My Morning Jacket, etc.) I would have to take Van Halen over them any day of the week. To me, the most obvious thing missing from most of these new artists is FUN. I think there a several downsides to dismissing what has come to be known as classic rock. For one, those bands seem to have a reverence and respect for the artists that paved the way for them. From AC/DC you can go to Chuck Berry and then to T-Bone Walker. When I hear TV on the Radio, I don't hear any MUSICAL influences. I hear art and fashion and frankly, little musicianship. I am not a big fan of Rush or Queen but those guys can play circles around today's bands. And I have respect for that. I also think today's bands are nameless and faceless. I don't know anyone who can name a single member of Death Cab For Cutie or pick their faces out of a lineup. But I bet you half the population can name all the members of The Who or Motley Crue. It may seem trivial, but it does add to the experience of being a fan of those bands. I do somewhat agree with your point about listeners being lazy, though. However, I think the listeners get lazy when they stop purchasing the new CD's by the classic artists. Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of the most consistently popular bands that tours and plays large venues every year. But when they put out a new CD, it barely sells. It's not because it's bad, it's because people just want to hear the stuff they already know. And today's bands are missing another element I enjoy about the classic bands: they just don't seem like ROCK STARS. I actually saw Death Cab last year, they just looked my next door neighbors. And nerdy ones at that. I don't want bands I go see to look like me. I want to go see a band that wears it's rock star lifestyle on it's sleeve. The best rock music was always about having fun and being rebellious. I thinks today's bands can co-exist with the classic bands. But we should not lose sight of the great music and great times the older bands can and still do provide.
If the writer of this article thinks there's an abundance of "good music" in todays pop hits, or evens todays rock (if you could call it that), he is sadly mistaken. Todays music consists of all style no substance head cases, tired remakes and one hit wonders. Maybe that is the reason classic rock is and has always been popular. Because it is good, well written music that has stood the test of time. Do you honestly think My Morning Jacket will even be a footnote in 20 years... Me neither.
come to the majestic dwelling of doom on fri in denton and listen to some good current blackmarket(lol) music that will never be pushed by corporate media because its damn good. that shit list you mentioned with MMJ really shows your street cred. You sound like you want to be hip but fail because you're trying. Get out more and hit the underscene and avoid the radio you classless tinker twat.
This article pretty much points out why people listen to classic rock without even knowing. The writer says stop listening to ACDC and listen to My Morning Jacket. I've got CD's of both bands and seen both live. Yeah I like both but to even suggest the My Morning Jacket is in the same hemisphere of talent as ACDC is ridiculous. The reason people listen to classic rock is because it's better. I have some albums that are my favorites from the past few years like Deja Entendu from Brand New or Based on a True Story from Starting Line. Problem is everyone has preferences now. There is so much out there. And of course, radio plays none of it. You get top 40. Especially in Dallas where radio is the worst I've ever heard. Radio in small towns accross the country is far superior to Dallas continual Clear Channel Beatdown. At least on a classic rock station you get quality top 40 songs.
But back to my point, the classic rock songs people love were wildly popular in their day AND the bands were talented. Now all the wildly popular bands have their songs written for them and are usually just a one person "artist". In the 70s you got ACDC, Rolling Stones, Boston, etc.. And now we get Kelly Clarkson, 50 Cent, and Lady Gaga. You tell me why people wouldn't go running to the past....
This article makes absolutely no sense. You're trying so hard to be a hipster that you've completely lost all originality.
My Dad said it best..."All the good music was made before the 80's and it's been downhill every since". Five minutes of KissFM proves him right. We're at the very bottom of that hill right now.
Interesting article. If all the young people in Dallas are listening to classic rock, maybe I'll move there. It's called " classic " because it is good, not old.
Why don't you listen to your choice of music and I'll listen to mine. That's the American way.
Hi, your point of view is quite interesting.Maybe young musicians should try to make music that is as good as the songs by the old guys. Americans nowdays are making prefab music, even the so called alternative acts. And the industry is selling it like it's the next big thing. It's got nothing and all the bands are looke-a-likes of former succesfull acts. Therefor I prefere old music and the alternativ Brits, like I Am Kloot, Super Fury Animals, Bloc Party and Bees. European music is by far more interesting then what comes from the majors overseas. There's only one new interesting American act nowdays; Yeasayer. But I think no one has ever heard of that band.And, not at least, the American acts the Americans hate, like Steve Earle and Dixie Chicks.And there's one other thing. You 'forgot' to mention the whole new black rock/hip hop scene. It's quite interesting to follow them. Just as interesting as listing to Pet Sounds, or Willy And The Poor Boys.Last thing; Dylan, Springsteen and Diamond can top the charts because they've got fans who actually BUY stuff.
So you basically mean that we shouldn't listen to music that we like, but just go with the flow and listen to everything of this decade? I am 17 years old, and I grew up with Beatles, Byrds and Rolling Stones always playing in the livingroom. I happen to find that music more stimulating than most of today's music. Is it our fault that the 60/70 was the years the best rock music was made? Listen to what you want, and don't let your age decide for you.
I'm in my late 30's so I think I have an understanding of a couple generations. I love Wilco, Ben Harper, the White Stripes, Gomez, etc....But where are these guys heard on the radio? I got lost with some of the nancy boy emo stuff starting earlier this decade.70's rock, and for that matter soul (and hell, even the singer songwriter fluff) was the golden age of rock..You gonna tell me Of Montreal or Franz Ferdinand are a better rock n roll band than Led Zeppelin? Dave Matthews better than Santana? There are great new bands out there now, including some of the ones we both mentioned, but they are not mainstream.
Have you seriously never come across a group of hipsters going to an indie rock show and a dumpy venue, or run across huge sites like Pitchfork or Stereogum?