While the boss is out re-connecting with NYC, it’s a good time to start a music thread. Sound like a non sequiteur? It is! It’s always a good time for a music thread.
Rock music began as music by outsiders. But it quickly became, among other things, music for bullies. Music bullies, who gloated as they hurried the previous generation of music off the stage, and seared with scorn any experimental break from the strict formula of two guitars, drum, bass and a 12-bar blues format.
Which is why I have little patience for one-time “rock stars” Who whine now that they can’t get studio contracts or radio time because they’re overaged. Classic rock format stations will play “Edge of Seventeen” forever, but Stevie Nicks can’t get any new music heard. She ought to rewrite it as “Edge of Seventy.”
Who cares? For one, I’ve heard enough Paul Simon to last a lifetime.Nobody said rock stardom was a sinecure.
Anyway, that’s the rant. Here’s the music. Despite all the above, the Beatles, who set the format in motion, were my first musical love, and it’s only now, after 35 years or so of listening to their music, that I feel I’ve come to the limits of it.
[Though if you ask me, they could have pulled the plug on it, and all of rock, about the end of 1967, when the limits of that limited format had been reached, stretched, and breached. The live version of “Down on Me.” Lights out.]
The Beatles, however, were sui generis, in their combination of songwriting sensibility and musicianship. And part of the mistake rock made was everybody else thinking they were supposed to do that, too.
It’s hard to “own” a Beatles song, if you’re another artist. But here are two examples I’d offer:
Common thread? Soul. The one thing four guys from England and George Martin couldn’t produce. To their credit, I think they’d all have acknowledged that (witness the too-late effort to work Billy Preston into the ensemble, and the electrifying results of that).
Meanwhile, there’s this, which my son turned me on to. Not a video, just music. I don’t know anything about the band — and I don’t want to. I’ve acquired a very Cleanth Brooks approach to music: I want to be alone with the text, the artifact. Creators are irrelevant.
This breaks the format without being obviously about nothing but breaking the format. What if the Ramones had been a mariachi band? What if your sensibilities extended past your own libido to, well, everything …
Anyway, enjoy. Don’t mind me.