Why great rock—and its performers—are doomed

I’m gonna gripe about modern rock music again and contrast it with the music produced between the early Sixties and mid-Seventies, which I consider the apotheosis of rock—just as I see the apotheosis of jazz lasting from the mid-Thirties to the early Sixties, ending with Coltrane. Since their apogees, both genres have gone downhill. And because what I see as the heyday of jazz occurred well before I began listening to it and loving it, you can’t accuse me of liking only the music that I listened to at the “vulnerable” period of my teens.

This curmudgeonly attitude is apparently shared by Steven Pinker, as evinced by this tweet (h/t Kevin). And that tweet called my attention to the linked article in The Week by Damon Linker (a man with whom I’ve had some differences sin the past), calling attention to the upcoming demise of the great musicians of rock.  This time, although Linker’s article is a bit breathy, it’s pretty good.

Do read it (click on the screenshot); it’s short:

Linker’s point is threefold  First, many rock stars of the Sixties through the early seventies are getting long in the tooth and will die before too long. Linker gives a long list:

. . . there’s another sense in which rock is very nearly dead: Just about every rock legend you can think of is going to die within the next decade or so.

Yes, we’ve lost some already. On top of the icons who died horribly young decades ago — Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, John Lennon — there’s the litany of legends felled by illness, drugs, and just plain old age in more recent years: George Harrison, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty.

Those losses have been painful. But it’s nothing compared with the tidal wave of obituaries to come. The grief and nostalgia will wash over us all. Yes, the Boomers left alive will take it hardest — these were their heroes and generational compatriots. But rock remained the biggest game in town through the 1990s, which implicates GenXers like myself, no less than plenty of millennials.

All of which means there’s going to be an awful lot of mourning going on.

Behold the killing fields that lie before us: Bob Dylan (78 years old); Paul McCartney (77); Paul Simon (77) and Art Garfunkel (77); Carole King (77); Brian Wilson (77); Mick Jagger (76) and Keith Richards (75); Joni Mitchell (75); Jimmy Page (75) and Robert Plant (71); Ray Davies (75); Roger Daltrey (75) and Pete Townshend (74); Roger Waters (75) and David Gilmour (73); Rod Stewart (74); Eric Clapton (74); Debbie Harry (74); Neil Young (73); Van Morrison (73); Bryan Ferry (73); Elton John (72); Don Henley (72); James Taylor (71); Jackson Browne (70); Billy Joel (70); and Bruce Springsteen (69, but turning 70 next month).

If that’s not depressing, I don’t know what is.

His second point is that yes, the Sixties and thereabout was the apogee rock music, and it was because—and here I largely agree—the great groups were given (in a way that didn’t exist before or after) huge amounts of freedom to control every aspect of their music:

Before rock emerged from rhythm and blues in the late 1950s, and again since it began its long withdrawing roar in the late 1990s, the norm for popular music has been songwriting and record production conducted on the model of an assembly line. This is usually called the “Brill Building” approach to making music, named after the building in midtown Manhattan where leading music industry offices and studios were located in the pre-rock era. Professional songwriters toiled away in small cubicles, crafting future hits for singers who made records closely overseen by a team of producers and corporate drones. Today, something remarkably similar happens in pop and hip-hop, with song files zipping around the globe to a small number of highly successful songwriters and producers who add hooks and production flourishes in order to generate a team-built product that can only be described as pristine, if soulless, perfection.

This is music created by committee and consensus, actively seeking the largest possible audience as an end in itself. Rock (especially as practiced by the most creatively ambitious bands of the mid-1960s: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and the Beach Boys) shattered this way of doing things, and for a few decades, a new model of the rock auteur prevailed. As critic Steven Hyden recounts in his delightful book Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock, rock bands and individual rock stars were given an enormous amount of creative freedom, and the best of them used every bit of it. They wrote their own music and lyrics, crafted their own arrangements, experimented with wildly ambitious production techniques, and oversaw the design of their album covers, the launching of marketing campaigns, and the conjuring of increasingly theatrical and decadent concert tours.

Yes, Linker does admit of some “corporate oversight”, but insists that “songs and albums were treated by all. . . as Statements.” And to me this rings true. Think, for example, of Sergeant Pepper.

And that brings us to the last point. Linker claims that these musicians were trying to achieve musical immortality through this all-encompassing creative process. Perhaps that’s true, but I think they were merely trying to express a vision, and in many cases didn’t care that much about how long their music lasted. Linker:

Like all monumental acts of creativity, the artists were driven by an aspiration to transcend their own finitude, to create something of lasting value, something enduring that would live beyond those who created it. That striving for immortality expressed itself in so many ways — in the deafening volume and garish sensory overload of rock concerts, in the death-defying excess of the parties and the drugs, in the adulation of groupies eager to bed the demigods who adorned their bedroom walls, in the unabashed literary aspirations of the singer-songwriters, in mind-blowing experiments with song forms marked by seemingly inhuman rhythmic and harmonic complexity, in the orchestral sweep, ambition, and (yes) frequent pretension of concept albums and rock operas. All of it was a testament to the all-too-human longing to outlast the present — to live on past our finite days. To grasp and never let go of immortality.

Well, maybe, but I’m dubious. Groupies were about sex and power, not immortality.  It is enough for me that these musicians were so dedicated to their vision that they produced albums like Revolver, The White Album, The Band, Are You Experienced, Who’s Next, and Pet Sounds (I could name many more). Did they long for musical immortality? Who knows? I can’t think of any statements by musicians saying that explicitly (though there are surely some); it seems to me they were just working out their visions in the studio.

At any rate, Linker ends his piece on a John Donne-like note: “Send not to know for whom the guitar rings, it rings for thee.”:

The rock stars’ days are numbered. They are going to die, as will we all. No one gets out alive. When we mourn the passing of the legends and the tragic greatness of what they’ve left behind for us to enjoy in the time we have left, we will also be mourning for ourselves.

Well, sort of, because as the musical idols of our youth expire (only two Beatles are left, and of the five members of the Band only Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson remain), we can’t help but ponder our own finitude. But we have one consolation: we had the best music ever.

If anybody argues, I may be compelled to refute them by presenting the best songs or albums from fifty years ago compared to their autotuned counterparts of today.

 

256 Comments

  1. Clint
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Robbie Robertson says hi.

    • Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Oops–my bad. I fixed it, thanks.

    • David Coxill
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Wasn’t he the guy wot dud ask the family on the beeb ?

  2. darrelle
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    The death of rock really started to accelerate in the past couple of years. For a while there it seemed like a rock star was dying every couple of weeks. It’s got me feeling old.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      2016 was bloody awful.

  3. CJColucci
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    If Keith Richards hasn’t died yet, he never will.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Keith and cockroaches — the only two organisms guaranteed to survive a nuclear doomsday explosion.

      • Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Ozzy might also have some Greenland shark genes.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 6, 2019 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        😎

        Same goes for Mick Jagger, I think. Looked like a car wreck in the sixties, still looks like a car wreck…

        cr

        • merilee
          Posted September 6, 2019 at 5:54 am | Permalink

          Nah, Mick was quite pretty in the way of 60s and 70s. Not so youthful looking now.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted September 6, 2019 at 8:54 am | Permalink

            Yeah, Mick was considered kinda homely in those days, to everyone but teenage girls anyway. But looking back at old photos and videos of him from those days, he actually was quite pretty.

            • merilee
              Posted September 6, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

              I meant in the 60s and 70s, not in the way of..@&#$ Siri.

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      As well as Ginger Baker, who just turned 80.

  4. paablo
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Robbie Robertson is still alive along with Garth.

    • Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Yeah, see the first comment. I fixed it; don’t know why I thought Robertson was dead.

      • Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        The Mandela Effect in action.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        Robbie was dead to his former bestie Levon at the end, right up till Levon left for Cripple Creek.

  5. Mike Ziman
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    It is indeed a depressing thought. Thankfully, there are many recordings. (BTW, one band not mentioned is the Grateful Dead and their, after Jerry Garcia, follow up incarnations.) As an optimist I find that there are many knock off bands that love and play the music these great performers created. I know it’s not the same but we are very lucky to be able to listen to live music today, from our youth, 50+ years later. Some of the knock offs are really very talented. I do wish and believe a music renaissance will happen, that a new generation will discover great new music emerging from the hidden corners of the world.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      I agree about the cover bands. Young people play whatever appeals to them in the old songbook and it turns out they agree with us about what’s good. Here’s Josh Turner and Reina del Cid doing Neal Young’s Harvest Moon. Not quite top level, but certainly their youthful enthusiasm is a gas!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI16dMyPZh4&list=RDIYrR5HMNe2A&index=2

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        I love pretty much all of Harvest Moon, especially the final track, Natural Beauty I think it’s called. One of his slinkiest, loveliest tunes.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    All true and the only good news is, not that long we will be dead too. So it all works out. I don’t know what all those old classic radio programs are going to do when we are gone? Oh right, no one listens to the radio anymore. Remember when people listened to music without a video to go with it?

    • justin Seabury
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Plenty of good music is being made, it is just not on the radio. Use Youtube for any given genre you like and you can find new and interesting stuff out there. You just can’t expect everyone to be NEW, since everything has already been done except the real avant garde stuff out there. And I am old enough to have grown up with the classics of rock that you all are talking about.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure it is. Anything ever invented is on Youtube it seems. I just don’t intend to live my entire life clued to a computer of one size or another. I am old.

        • justin Seabury
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          I have to because I am stuck at work all day. If you do not work on one, then spend an hour or so searching new music while reading this site, and then buy/find it elsewhere and load onto a mobile device. I agree it is a drag that new and interesting stuff is rarely on the radio, but radio is slowly dying.

          • darrelle
            Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

            I can’t stand listening to the radio. I’ll only resort to that if there is no other choice.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 6, 2019 at 2:03 am | Permalink

          “I just don’t intend to live my entire life clued to a computer”

          No such need, Randall. Track down the song of your choice on Youtube or Dailymotion or whatever, use youtube-dl or VLC or similar to save it to disk, extract the audio to MP3 etc with ffmpeg or similar, and stick it on your music player of choice.

          In the last few years my ‘library’ of old 60’s-90’s music has increased a hundredfold by that process.

          cr

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 6, 2019 at 1:58 am | Permalink

        If you can’t stand the new stuff, there is an infinity of old stuff on Youtube.

        Thank G*d (or chance) the sixties coincided with a great leap forward in recording techniques. And before the analogue master tapes had crumbled, digital came along to preserve it. So we can hear anything from the sixties onwards as good as it ever was.

        cr

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    … I see the apotheosis of jazz lasting from the mid-Thirties to the early Sixties, ending with Coltrane.

    I’m in general agreement, though I’d take the golden age back to the mid-Twenties with Louis Armstrong’s Hot 5 and Hot 7 sessions, and forward past ‘Trane’s death to the late Sixties and early Seventies, the early days of fusion with Miles and his acolytes like Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea and John McLaughlin.

  8. Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Imagine how we classical fans feel. Our idols have been dead hundreds of years.

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Classical music is still being written, but none of its creators are our idols. I was reminded of this fact, and possibly one of the reasons why, when I attended a concert of “contemporary” symphonic music a couple of years ago. The program notes revealed that many of the composers represented wrote music for—wait for it—video games! Their creations sounded about as you would expect.

      • merilee
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        R🙀😖

      • Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        Alma Deutscher is an exciting young up-and-coming composer. Her Viola sonata is quite impressive.

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alma_Deutscher

        • Brujo Feo
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          Agreed. There are a lot of contemporary composers of what is thought of as “classical” that are doing marvelous stuff. Speaking as a violist, I would mention the American Sarah DuBois.

      • Justin Seabury
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        There is a lot of good music coming out of video games, in most genres. Check out the music from the Final Fantasy series as a starting point for classical-esque type music.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          Agreed. Just as film/TV soundtracks start getting better and better too. There are plenty of classical composers being hired to work on them.

          Eg. Max Richter’s compositions for The Leftovers were absolutely gorgeous, really some of the most extravagantly beautiful pieces of music I’ve heard in a very long time. This one in particular always gets my spine tingling:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPa6c109rvo

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted September 6, 2019 at 2:33 am | Permalink

            Yes, and I’d aver that many of those movie/TV tracks are quite close in sound and spirit to the old classics (and so, for that matter, is much classic pop/rock). Far more so than much modern ‘serious’ music, which seems to take its desire to be ‘innovative’ into cacophony or absurdity. (Admittedly my knowledge of that is limited to occasional chance encounters).

            cr

      • Posted September 6, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        Call me a non-musical weirdo (which is true) if you wish, but I *like* (for example) classical music from movie soundtracks!

        I have a friend who is a classical cellist, and I think she finds that confusing. (I also enjoy the neoclassical and “regular classical” stuff she does most of the time.)

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted September 6, 2019 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

          You heathen! So do I though. I can’t stand genre snobbery. If I hear something I like I can’t help that my brain responds to it. I’m not going to deny myself the pleasure of listening to it just because some taste-guardian is going to raise their eyebrow.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 6, 2019 at 2:16 am | Permalink

      Yes but old classical music is still being recorded, and with modern techniques it probably sounds slightly better than it originally did. And we can all afford to listen to it – what percentage of the population could have heard a Beethoven concert played by a full top-line orchestra?

      cr

  9. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Precisely- in detail I agree wholeheartedly. I “discovered” The Beatles, Zeppelin, Miles, etc. decades after their inceptions- to say nothing about Mozart, Early Music, Indian, etc.

    I would add a major dimension to this :

    music consumption

    There are widely varying modes of consumption (a despicable term, but true) over centuries. To pick some caricatures : amusement in courts ; a form of news ; tribal bonding ; storytelling; – all forms of live music, and that’s just in ancient times. Notably, “the radio” is largely receding, with custom, personalized playlists taking over (guilty as charged).

    Nowadays I’d say music – to borrow from Chuck Palahniuk – is intended to be single serving.

    Then there is how individuals let new music in their lives. But for the thrust of this post it shouldn’t matter – the rock of the 60’s and 70’s ought to be the most downloaded (in the parlance of our times).

    • Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      It is heartfelt to think upon Miles and Zappa and Jeff Buckley and many others I’ve discovered only after their deaths.

      Music is never not a journey. And those who seek talent and honest vision will always find the best music has largely passed us. Maybe tomorrow will bring something inspiring, but it is increasingly less likely.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        If you despair, I’d check out Jacob Collier.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        also Jésus Molina

  10. Michael Fisher
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    The Brill Building system is dead. The corporate hold on taking off into a career/vocation in ANY of the arts [including fine art, movie making & literature] was preventing talent from gaining an audience. Shutting people out & controlling the flow was the game & talent has learned how to get around it!

    Indie publishing is where it’s at now & that has been the case for some time. People who say rock [or jazz or any art form] is dead are inhabiting the wrong spaces & looking in the wrong directions – stuck in amber & not walking around with their eyes open. If you are feeding only from the corporate sponsored systems you will falsely think that is all there is & you’d be wrong. Look beyond the land of autotune & see what is really available!

    /End of sermon, but back later with EXAMPLES when time allows

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      There’s such a preposterous amount of great music around, it’s just there’s so much of it, in all kinds of different genres, that it can be overwhelming.

    • Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      I agree that there this a lot of great music today, but, one, there is a lot of it in small places. It is difficult to digest it all and most of it is short lived. And two, when parsed retrospectively with what came before, much of the innovation is lukewarm.

      Still, I always try to find new music. Never stop.

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Not 100% new, but Ismael Lo with Marianne Faithfull – “Without Blame”.

  11. Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Can’t disagree, but there are pockets of joy here and there. And we’re lucky in that we can enjoy the classics from Mozart to Zeppelin any time we want.

    • merilee
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      +1
      Delighted that my 34-year-old son attended a Beach Boys concert in Vancouver last weekend, with his almost 4-year-old daughter.

      • Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        I have kids and I have to agree with Jerry. They all like the old stuff. I’m sure it’s partly because it’s what they grew up with but partly because it’s just be

  12. Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I would say that Roy Orbison is a notable omission – heart attach at 52.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      One of the great ones. And it never gets old.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Well, hell, that makes me wanna post this (especially with two more of the Wilburys gone now):

      • Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        Thanks so much for posting this KK – had not thought of that song for a long time, and am going to add it to my SongBook playlist for our next acoustic jam!

        • Douglas Swartzendruber
          Posted September 11, 2019 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

          Just added this to my blog, with a H/T to Ken

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 6, 2019 at 3:39 am | Permalink

        I’m crying.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 6, 2019 at 9:04 am | Permalink

          Yeah, the rocking chair with the guitar and Orbison’s photo in the background during his vocals always got to me. But now, with Harrison and Petty gone, it’s almost unbearably poignant.

          And where ya been, girlfriend? I miss you. I know for a while there you used to cruise these parts late at night. Sometimes, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d log on, and if I left a comment, I’d think at least DG will see this and maybe get a laugh. 🙂

        • Posted September 6, 2019 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          I was alright… for a while…

          • Douglas Swartzendruber
            Posted September 10, 2019 at 11:24 am | Permalink

            Late to note this comment – nicely done.

          • Douglas Swartzendruber
            Posted September 11, 2019 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

            Also, there is no Like button for comments on my display, so was wondering how that is done.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted September 11, 2019 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

              Douglas. I assume JAC hasn’t enabled the ‘Like’ star on his site for some reason OR it doesn’t show on PC screen – I’ve never seen a ‘Like’ star on WEIT for comments is all I know for sure.

              Despite this, there are two ways of ‘Liking’ that I know of. See image below:

              [1] Top half of image – If you want to ‘Like’ a reply to a comment you made & you’re on the WEIT site & logged in

              ** Click the bell icon in the black menu bar atop the site page. This drops down those types of comments
              ** Click the comment in the list you wish to ‘Like’. This slides out that comment & reveals options to reply, to ‘Like’ or to go to that comment on the WEIT page

              [2] Bottom half of image – If you want to ‘Like’ any comment

              ** Click ‘Reader’ in the black menu bar & this takes you to the Reader interface front page with a blue menu bar
              ** Find the relevant WordPress post via search
              ** Click on ‘Comments’ three or four times [each time a larger number of comments are displayed
              ** Scroll to the relevant comment & there you can ‘Reply’ or ‘Like’

              This is a right hassle & only worth doing if you use Reader already to read all the WordPress content you’re following. I don’t.

              CLICK TO OPEN LARGERER:

              like2

              • Douglas Swartzendruber
                Posted September 11, 2019 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

                Thanks! And I just did a Like on your comment – I think 🙂

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 11, 2019 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I got your ‘Like’ & I ‘Liked’ it of course! 🙂

              • merilee
                Posted September 11, 2019 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

                Couldn’t see no bell symbol nowhere nohow noway (had to do 5 negatives to keep from going +) despite going largerer🤓

              • Posted September 11, 2019 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

                I think you have to be logged into WordPress to see the bell

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 12, 2019 at 1:25 am | Permalink

                🙂 🤓

              • rickflick
                Posted September 11, 2019 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                It took me 10 minutes to fine this on the Reader option. But, here I am. Thanks Michael.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 12, 2019 at 1:17 am | Permalink

                Merilee. The Bell symbol is in the red ellipse top right of my image above.

                That is what you mean right? Because if you meant you haven’t got a black menu bar on your screen you would have said so. But of course you wouldn’t have wrote that either, because you would have noticed in my instructions I wrote “…& logged in”

                Right?

            • Posted September 12, 2019 at 3:34 am | Permalink

              There is no “like” button, except when one gets a reply which is opened by clicking on the bell at the top right on the page (you have to be logged in to see it, and it has a red dot when a reply is waiting to be viewed).

              Most people here add “+1” to a comment they like.

              • Posted September 12, 2019 at 3:38 am | Permalink

                And of course I replied to this comment using the aforementioned bell, without checking the thread. I should have known that Michael would have already posted the definitive reply. Sigh.

              • Posted September 12, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

                +1. 🙂

  13. KD33
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Slightly different perspective: my favorite period was ~ 77-82. The late 60’s/early 70’s super-groups were well past their prime. Consider these *first* albums: My Aim is True (Elvis Costello); ’77 (Talking Heads); Los Angeles (X); Entertainment (Gang of Four); B-52’s; Pretenders; Murmur (R.E.M.); Sex Pistols and PIL; The Smiths (Johnny f’ing Marr!). Zappa was doing some of his best post-Mothers work. All were tremendous live acts and most had extensive and significant discographies. Some of the guitarists were highly innovative, and few were every bit in the league of the supergroups. Also, Aja (Steely Dan), maybe my GOAT album, came out in ’77; Radiohead soon to emerge. To me it was a far more interesting time than the early 70’s, which I also loved. (My first albums were Abbey Road, Black Sabbath, Who’s Next, all when they came out – not a bad start?)

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      No love for The Clash and The Ramones?

      • KD33
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        Plenty! Probably 10 more. Just can’t remember them all on the spot.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        I thought the Ramones were mocking themselves. Over the top. Pretty good though.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted September 6, 2019 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          That was part of punk’s subversive appeal — an antidote to the self-seriousness of big-name bands that were doing elaborate arena shows.

          Plus, they weren’t the only ones back then who sometimes wanted to be sedated. 🙂

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Then you had all those fantastic psychobilly/rock bands like The Cramps and The Gun Club.
      And then they kind of led into Sonic Youth, one of my favourite bands of all-time. The early to mid-seventies always struck me as a bit of a lull after the great music of the sixties.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      “My first albums were Abbey Road, Black Sabbath, Who’s Next, all when they came out – not a bad start”

      I’ll say. My first albums were utter crap that I bought to fit in at school.

  14. John Dentinger
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    No “modern” rock ‘n’ roll?
    The Black Keys: drums, guitar, vocals.
    It’s all good!

    • Scorch
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      I was just about to comment almost exactly this! Rock is not dead, it’s just a lot less mainstream. And I’m not even so sure if that’s a bad thing. I mean the latest Black Keys album is called ‘Let’s Rock’ and that it does.

      Also worth looking at is The Regrettes, very young people making very good rock music.

  15. Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    “His second point is that yes, the Sixties and thereabout was the apogee rock music, …”

    But, but, but, metal had not even been invented then!

    (I guess 1968 is the very earliest one can date proper rock to, with the release of Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild and the founding of Deep Purple, Led Zepp and Black Sabbath. But it only really got going in the 70s .. and it’s still going strong today, e.g. Trivium for example.)

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      If we are getting technical with this – rock and roll goes back to the 50s. Thank you.

  16. Gasper
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I am a consummate classical music lover but I will never part from my collection of 60’s and 70’s rock. They will merely be melded into the great history of music.

  17. Stuart A Milc
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I generally agree with the notion that we’re on the downward side of the apogee of rock/pop music but some modern music still amazes me. I love Radiohead but I think that fits well as they’re about as close to a prog-rock band as there is today.

    • Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      There are actually lot of prog-rock bands out there. You just have to look.

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Linker claims that these musicians were trying to achieve musical immortality through this all-encompassing creative process.

    To paraphrase an old Woody Allen line, I don’t want the old bastards listed in the last paragraph of the first Linker excerpt to achieve musical immortality through an all-encompassing creative process; I want them to achieve immortality by not dying on me.

    Some of ’em, it’d be like losin’ family.

  19. Brujo Feo
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    And nobody even mentions the Allman Brothers Band?

    Duane Allman, d. 1971
    Berry Oakley, d. 1972
    Butch Trucks, d. 2017
    Gregg Allman, d. 2017

    And that’s just the originals. Death reached out and grabbed it seems like pretty much everybody who played in the band over the years: Lamar Williams, Alan Woody, the Toler brothers…

    Of the originals, we’re left with only Jaimoe, and Dickey Betts>

    And if anyone had EVER suggested that Betts might be the last man standing, you woulda thunk that he or she was smoking crack. Surprising that there are ANY molecules left in his body that aren’t alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.

    • Don Mackay
      Posted September 6, 2019 at 2:43 am | Permalink

      Yeah, at last someone mentions the Allman Brothers Band! Thankyou.
      And has anyone mentioned Jethro Tull? Rory Gallagher? Alvin Lee of 10years after?
      And finally, that curious genius group, Moby Grape.

      • Michael Walton
        Posted September 6, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        No mention either of..Curved air, Emerson lake and Palmer, yes, genesis, tod rundgren, Alex Harvey,Thin lizzy,John Martin or Roy Harper.

  20. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Let’s add Otis Redding and Keith Moon to the list of those who shuffled off this mortal coil horribly early.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      You just reminded me of this, an example of a late-eighties band transforming a good-but-not-great sixties song into something indescribably beautiful:

      First heard/saw it in David Lynch’s Lost Highway; unfortunately every bugger’s begun using it in their films since then.

      • Kurt Helf
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        This version is absolutely lovely! Robert Plant did a really great live version of it on Season 28 of Austin City Limits.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

          Liz Fraser’s voice is just something else completely. It’s a kind of combination of an operatic vibrato, a tremolo arm on a guitar and a theremin…

          BTW, I liked Robert Plant’s recent solo stuff, I might check that out.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        apologies for embedding btw, I keep forgetting

      • rickflick
        Posted September 11, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        Vive, David Lynch!

  21. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Zappa on what explains the decline : https://youtu.be/KZazEM8cgt0

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear – that’s longer than the one I recall.
      [Embarrassed]

  22. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Groupies were about sex and power, not immortality.

    I dunno, I’d say the world-famous “Plaster Casters” offered immortality after a fashion. 🙂

  23. Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    My favorite music was performed around the time I was an infant. With a few exceptions, it seems to have gone slowly downhill since then.

    One example: In our egregiously awful and corrupt political environment, where are all the protest songs? Where is the modern equivalent of “Four Dead in Ohio”?

    I’m an electrical engineer with a lot of time spent in the area of digital signal processing. And it’s my view that the only positive contribution digital signal processing has made to music is in the preservation, restoration, and distribution of music that was recorded before music got ruined by autotune, “wall of sound,” drum machines, and stupid edgy effects like fake record noises—all brought to us by digital signal processing.

    • darrelle
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      “One example: In our egregiously awful and corrupt political environment, where are all the protest songs? Where is the modern equivalent of “Four Dead in Ohio”?”

      I think protests songs are still a thing. I’ve no doubt that many current cultural demographics have their own important issues and popular songs about them.

      A favorite song of mine that is a fairly recent example (though not current, seems like yesterday to me) from 2005 is B.Y.O.B. by System Of A Down. Very good band. Might be a bit extreme for some tastes.

  24. Carl
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I prefer the rock of my youth to that of the late 70s onward also. I wouldn’t argue it’s objectively better, just that I don’t care for most of it. No big deal, I have digital recordings.

    The more recent music I listen to and buy is blues: Susan Tedeschi, Danielle (Nicole) Schnebelen, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, and above all Samantha Fish, though I wish she would move away from the brass she uses in her group lately.

    I don’t care to argue this list represents the best music ever, only I like it more than anything the Beatles and numerous other elite 60s performers ever did. A harder comparison would be Pink Floyd or the Rolling Stones.

  25. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    i disagree with this, but then I said some of this in a previous post. And although I’d agree that rock and roll itself is not the primary cultural force that it used to be that’s because there has been a huge proliferation of genres since the seventies, broadly since punk, and all of those genres have begun to make incursions into the popular realm. What ‘pop music’ means now is very difficult to pin down – there are so many different stylistic approaches by different artists.

    Also, why would you compare the greats of the sixties and seventies with “the autotuned counterparts of today”? You’d surely compare The Beatles with someone like Radiohead, not autotune artists like Nicki Minaj. etc…(not that she doesn’t come up with some good stuff here and there).

    If I went back to the sixties and seventies and looked at some of the stuff that was released back then(infamously, Englebert Humperdinck kept Strawberry Fields off no. 1) I could be forgiven for thinking it was a musical wasteland. It wasn’t of course, but if you go back and look at a random top 40 chart from a random year between, say, 1965 and 1980 the rubbish that you’d find in there would surprise you. The really, really huge groups back then weren’t just The Beatles – they were The Baycity Rollers and the Osmonds and groups like that. There was godawful stuff like ‘Grandad’ released that went to number one.
    But nostalgia and time does the job of uncluttering the intray and we end up looking back at that time period as a shining wonderland.

    I grew up listening to the rock and roll of the nineties, and unsurprisingly I go to bat for that period. Nirvana, Screamadelica, My Bloody Valentine, Oasis/Blur, Radiohead and OK Computer, Spiritualized, Flaming Lips, etc. etc. I know about this period, like I know about the following decade too, and I was passionate and engaged and soaked everything in as you do when you’re a teenager. So it’s so much more alive to me than other decades. But I’m aware that my view is skewed. I take that into account.

    Broadly I think the idea that popular/rock music is in decline is a selection effect. It’s too much of a coincidence that every generation thinks it about the music that comes after theirs.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      …and it’s not surprising that the ‘rock legends’ are all old. You have to live a certain amount of time before you get crowned as such.
      If Linker thinks that demonstrates that modern rock legends are not being produced then that’s an odd argument.

      • darrelle
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Yes. And some artists are called legends while they are in their prime only to lose that status over time while others aren’t called legends until some time after they’re dead. Nearly all artists are considered legends by their devoted fans.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      I can understand what you’re saying.

      The forest for the trees, here, I think is the “Statement” of the cited musicians/groups. Notably, I think dancing was not a part of that statement : Zeppelin, Beatles, etc. Britney Spears – yes.

      … Though I said emphatically that I agree, I think “time will tell” with this topic. I consider my own dismissal of Nirvana when they were at their peak of active fame – and now I’m entranced by Cobain’s melodic and harmonic talent. There’s no reason the same could happen with “today’s” (presumably pop) music.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Cobain was an extraordinary songwriter, just preternaturally gifted. If you can get past the angry teenager culture that sprung up around the band, which always put me of them a bit, then it’s hard not to recognise his genius.

        I can’t think of many artists who had his ear for melody in the history of rock: Lennon, Brian Wilson…Neil Young maybe. The MTV album is a good starter for anyone interested, and it has that amazing Leadbelly cover too.

        Not sure I get what you mean by the 2nd para…

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          “Time will tell” means maybe I think the current stuff is lame but I’m not ready for it, or distracted by other factors….

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

            Oh there’s loads of lame stuff around, as always.

            Thing is, I don’t know about you but I don’t actively search out new music that I would like, not as much as I used to anyway. So it’s no wonder that I haven’t heard that much great stuff from the last four or five years. Yet when I start looking again I immediately run up against new releases I really like. Grizzly Bear, Grimes, Janelle Monae, Beach House, etc…

            I even like some of the ‘pop music’; the autotuned stuff that attracts such ire. ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift – that’s just a great three minute pop song.
            And Lana Del Rey, as ridiculous as her persona and lyrics are, consistently comes out with some of the most gorgeous, lavish melodies I’ve ever heard. Lorde – she writes(or has written for her) some terrific pop songs. Ditto Lady Gaga(pronounced to rhyme with ‘ajar’).
            And Beyonce has some absurdly talented songwriters and producers who are much more experimental and intelligent than you’d expect from someone whose stuff used to be so boring. One of the songs on ‘Lemonade’ completely reworked, to breathtaking fashion, a hook from Animal Collective, one of America’s foremost experimental bands – and it still sold bucketloads.
            There’s so much genre cross-fertilisation going on these days. The cutting edge of modern ‘pop music’ is incredibly sophisticated.

            The only time I don’t know about great new music is when I stop looking for it, so I’m more inclined to put any supposed downturn in quality down to my own biases and laziness(massive laziness).

      • dabertini
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Can I include Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains? I love Jerry Cantrell and I absolutely think he is a throwback to the great guitarists of the 60’s and 70’s.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

          Though superficially 60’s/70’s – throwbacks, yes. I suppose they would seem that way because they grew up on the 60’s and 70’s…

          Cantrell and Cornell wrote fascinating melodies- Got Me Wrong is a shining example.

        • darrelle
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          I was a bit drunk when I first experienced Soundgarden. The song was Rusty Cage. Blew my mind. Still on my “current” play list.

    • merilee
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      I kinda liked the Bay City Rollers. I would never link them in with the Osmonds😖

      • dabertini
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        That is just wrong.

      • darrelle
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        Remember those Dynamite magazines from the Scholastic Book Services from back in the 70s? I remember an article about the Bay City Rollers which related, among other things, how they got their name. They claim they used the old “blindly stick a pin in a map” trick.

        • dabertini
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

          I definitely miss scholasitic. S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night, not so much.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        AND I’m not keen on Mozart either! Mwahahaha

        • merilee
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          I wish there was a thumbing my nose emoji, Saul, or hands flapping at my ears🤓

    • darrelle
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      I agree with all of this. I grew up in an earlier decade, kind of split across two of them. It seems to me I have a soft spot for music from a wide time frame, from the later 60s to the early 90s. In the past couple of decades I’ve lost touch a bit largely, I think, because radio play in the US has been almost entirely dominated by 3 genres. Country (which I’ve come to hate), Classic Rock and Pop, and Pop ain’t what it use to be. I like classic rock fine but I can’t listen to the same 200 songs my entire life or I may as well end it now.

      But, any time I spend some time surfing the net to find some new interesting music I drown in cool new stuff that ends up in my music collection. I don’t have enough time in my life to find all of the music I would like out of the huge flood that is being produced these days. And by current “in touch” standards I am hopelessly out of touch with where to look.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Spotify has some cool algorithms that just suggest similar music for you. It has a kind of ‘pick of the week’ thing, tailored to you, and it also just autoplays stuff that’s similar to the stuff you’v’e already been listening to. It’s great for discovering new stuff.

        You’d think that an algorithm would never be able to do the job of another person, but other people’s recommendations are often total pot-luck anyway, and these algorithms actually take into account the kind of music YOU like, rather than doing what humans do, which is think up the last thing they liked and tell you to listen to it, regardless of whether you’re likely to enjoy it or not.

        • darrelle
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

          I often just fall down the youtube rabbit hole. So much cool stuff out there. A favorite find from the past couple of years that even my Mom liked . . .

          Kids Cover 46 and 2 by Tool / O’Keefe Music Foundation

          These kids just kill it. Brings a tear to my eye. I prefer it over the original artist. And Tool is a favorite.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

            That is very cool. The drummer is very talented…but the girl singing the vocals is absolutely fantastic…

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            I think this is what was referred to – I admire these kids – they are highly skilled. The piano is a very interesting addition. The performance sounds essentially like Tool.

          • ratabago
            Posted September 7, 2019 at 3:11 am | Permalink

            Well that was impressive. Not only are these kids talented, they are tight, and they are faithful to the original. That suggests they’ve put considerable disciplined effort into this.

            In fact I’m so impressed that despite being deeply annoyed by Tool’s lyrics I dusted off my old Bandcamp account and chucked some support to the project.

            And now I’ve got a new internet rabbit hole to disappear down. I’ve tracked down the vocalist, and found the drummer. I’ve found a name for the bass player, but he seems to have become inactive. Pity, he’s very good.

    • Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      This is not just about popular music. I studied the works (informally) of over 450 composers from Renaissance to present and ‘one hit wonders’ are very prevalent in historical music. Likewise, time often gives composers their merits above others, not so much their respective audiences, if they even had an audience in their lives.

      What becomes canon is complicated but it is not surprising that what we consider as masterpieces are so because they are timeless, like a Shakespeare play.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Completely agree. It is worth remembering that JS Bach really only became popular following Mendelssohn’s staging of the St Matthew Passion in 1829. His sons, CPE and JC, were better known than he was in the decades after his death.

        On a slightly separate subject, when I first started going to Proms concerts in 1967 I remember a number of comments to the effect that ‘classical’ music was doomed, that its audiences were all old farts, and so on. These days, 52 years on, they’re saying the same thing. Yet the Proms are packed out every night, and most of the audiences are young(ish) people. All of us, including musicians and their audiences, age and eventually die; the music goes on for ever!

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      I dig your taste in music. If I may suggest Porcupine Tree and later Steven Wilson’s solo work. He is my favorite musician working today (b. 1967). I like his live performances best, but if you’re interested, I’d suggest two studio albums: Porcupine Tree’s Fear of a Blank Planet and Wilson’s Hand.Cannot.Erase.

      I always mention PT and SW when PCC(E) bemoans the state of contemporary rock. (Though I do see his point.)

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        Puns in album titles?… Generally a bad sign…but I’ll give them a listen, thanks Mark.

      • Dean Reimer
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        Or In Absentia, on which “Sound of Muzak” laments the very thing we’re talking about in this thread.

        I’m with you, here. SW is fantastic.

        • Mark R.
          Posted September 6, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

          Yes, “Sound of Muzak”…good point.

    • phoffman56
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      “Englebert Humperdinck”
      Cannot resist: wasn’t he at his best when he wrote the opera Hansel and Gretel??

  26. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    … we can’t help but ponder our own finitude. But we have one consolation: we had the best music ever.

    To quote Genesis (the first book of the Pentateuch, not the Peter Gabriel-cum-Phil Collins band 🙂 ), “There were giants in the earth in those days.”

    • Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      “To quote Genesis. . . .

      Or to quote Arthur Guiterman’s “On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness”:

      The tusks which clashed in mighty brawls
      Of mastodons, are billiard balls.
      The sword of Charlemagne the Just
      Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust.
      The grizzly bear, whose potent hug,
      Was feared by all, is now a rug.
      Great Caesar’s bust is on the shelf,
      And I don’t feel so well myself.

      • uommibatto
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Wonderful! A sprightlier Ozymandias…

        And then there’s Dave Mason, still with us, who appropriately wrote, “Feelin’ alright? I’m not feelin’ too good myself.”

        • merilee
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          THanks for the Dave Mason reminder😀🙀

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Good one, Gary, though I’d’ve thought a fan of the Romantics like you, might’ve gone with:

        My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
        Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

        🙂

        • Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          “. . .a fan of the Romantics like you. . .”

          Though Coleridge is my main man I really can’t abide the rest of the Romantics—least of all Shelley. Wordsworth gets off some great lines but was a self-righteous prick. Keats is OK, but puts it on too thick for my taste most of the time. Byron at least had a sense of humor—rare for that crowd.

          I do, however, admit to a fondness for Leigh Hunt, who wrote what I consider perhaps the loveliest short poem in the language:

          Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
          Jumping from the chair she sat in;
          Time, you thief, who love to get
          Sweets into your list, put that in!
          Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
          Say that health and wealth have missed me,
          Say I’m growing old, but add
          Jenny kiss’d me.

          • rickflick
            Posted September 5, 2019 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

            Nice poem. Enchanting. I think a lot of poems I find enchanting at my age (old) have to do with the passage of time and the sweetness of life as it was in youth. True or not.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted September 5, 2019 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

            Blake had his moments, too, with brush as well as pen.

            • Posted September 6, 2019 at 2:14 am | Permalink

              “Blake had his moments, too. . . .”

              True enough, Ken, but I was restricting myself to poets from planet Earth. 😊

  27. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    There have been multiple video essays on YouTube on the topic (some taking the opposite side) of what makes the older rock better. Here is one I think is especially good.

    I admit to enjoying both Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga but I greatly prefer the older music. One musician who I think is talented but wasting and abusing her talents is Miley Cyrus (she has a good entry on an album of Dylan covers by various artists. She covers “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome when you go”, very well!)

    My favorite contemporary singer is Enya. A singer from the 80s I like especially is Annie Lennox.

    A couple years ago, I caught both the Moody Blues on their tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Days of Future Passed” and Donovan’s tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Sunshine Superman”. (Both of these artists might be a bit too mystical for Jerry Coyne’s tastes. I know he doesn’t like Leonard Cohen.)

    6 months later, the lead singer of the Moody Blues passed away. Donovan oddly sang mostly songs from the two albums before Sunshine Superman mainly because he was solo with no backup band.

    Finally, a group from the 60s that seems to have been forgotten and deserves more exposure is Procul Harum. Their only major hit was “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (covered very well by Annie Lennox 30 years later), but they did some fascinating stuff later down the line.

    • David W.
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      There was also Conquistador, which in 1972 peaked at #16 five years after it was first released in 1967 on Procol Harum’s first album.

  28. Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a short video comparing the top 20 songs from 2018 and 1998, made by a former record producer. It would be even worse if you compared 80s 70s & 60s.

    End of argument, as far as I’m concerned. Blame the recording companies & risk-averse and unimaginative use of recording technology.

    However, it should also be noted, I think, that the great rock artists were breaking into new territory and were buoyed up by the culture that produced their work. Dylan knew he was riding a wave, and was also smart enough (more or less) to notice when it disappeared from underneath him. (I’d count his fine 1969 album John Wesley Harding as a graceful recognition of this fact. Nothing overly ambitious; even the one great song, All Along the Watchtower, is so low key that it’s barely recognisable compared to all the other overblown covers of it.)

    text

    Artists were also, I suspect, more experimental. Here’s a recording of the Beatles experimentingrecording of the Beatles experimenting in the studio with Revolution. It’s about half the speed of the final version, played acoustically, with a hypnotic groove. After about 3 and a half minuted they start fooling around with various sounds and vocalisations and all kinds of weird stuff. With auto-tuning today, would anyone bother with this kind of potentially brilliant fooling about?

    • Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      (Sorry for the hyperlink saying “text” — for got to delete it. It doesn’t go anywhere.)

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 6, 2019 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      “mumble rap” + trap drums + low frequency to vibrate everything near the road the car drives down

      I want to say it again: “mumble rap”

    • Posted September 6, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      This makes me wonder about something. It looks like that a new artifact type always takes a while to establish its use – people complain that the piano is not the harpsicord, etc. (to use the musical stuff). So maybe we have to wait a bit before we can really understand the creative and new and unforeseen *good* ways to use autotune?

      Sometimes I think the “Symphony of Science” folks have something close to that … but I enjoy that stuff because I regard the sampled voices as the instrument, not the original human.

  29. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    A sad fact of – I pick the example of Jimmy Page – is :

    1. Their peak output has long passed
    2. Their recent work is, like “today’s music”, “not what it used to be”

    That wasn’t true for Tom Petty. Paul McCartney- eek, not sure. I’m at least expecting some Wings stuff from him when I see him. Ozzy and Sabbath.

    Point is : after the band has made their best work (I’m thinking Led Zeppelin) they get marked on that performance, and as such, can also be in decline. Ozzy Osbourne – he is more of a celebrity now, though, toured recently with I think the original Sabbath members.

    … so who makes the big “Statements” today? Beyoncé?

  30. RGT
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    It’ll be tough when Paul and Ringo go, that might just do me in.

    • dabertini
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      I can’t bear that thought!

  31. Kurt Helf
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I’ll add to the list of contemporary rock (broadly defined) greats Jason Isbell, Steve Earle, and Jack White.

    • merilee
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      I loved Steve Earle when he was rocking. More recently I believe he has mellowed too much, possibly influenced by his folksy girlfriend/wife. Last live concert I saw was very boring (maybe 8 years ago)..

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      The White Stripes can stand alongside – and possibly above – any pure rock and roll band that’s ever existed. They are pulverisingly great.

      I’ve never been convinced by the softer White Stripes stuff. But his rock and roll songs really are monolithic. And bloody hell he can play the guitar – he might be the only person who makes solos sound ferocious rather than wanky.

      • darrelle
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Agree about Jack White and The White Stripes. he also sponsors interesting up and coming artists. A good one I found by following that trail is The Dead Weather.

        A sample if you’d like, The Dead Weather – I Can’t Hear You (Live from Third Man Records)

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          Well, I think he’s actually in the Dead Weather, with the lead singer of The Kills. They’re one of the(confusingly numerous) sidegroups he formed during and after the White Stripes.

          Cool link, I hadn’t heard it.

          • darrelle
            Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

            Huh. You are absolutely correct. Thanks for straightening me out on that.

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

              He’s been in a LOT of sidegroups. I get them confused all the time.

  32. John LaMain
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Right on.

  33. Pliny the in Between
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always thought that great art required a healthy dose of angst. The 60’s and 70’s supplied that in abundance. The way things are going we may be on the verge of another artistically productive era.

    While we are on the rant, my biggest music peeve is how marketing suits abuse classic songs. I recently heard a white bread version of ‘Go Your Own Way’ being used to hawk some drug.

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      That would be a huge peeve of mine as well. Commercials ruining great songs…argh!

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        I’ve long thought that national governments should step in with dead artists’ back catalogues and just ban advertising companies from using their music.

        If you’re alive, fine, you can sell out all you want, but an artist that’s dead doesn’t have much choice.

        …Frankly I think using songs, whether by living artists or dead, to sell stuff should just be banned full stop. I don’t like saying it out loud because it’s a bit authoritarian…but if someone’s going to use Perfect Day or Waterloo sunset to sell their sofas, or their coffee brand, then my inner Stalin’s going be unleashed.

        • Mark R.
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

          I’m with you on putting a moratorium on using a dead artist’s music for commercials.

          “…my inner Stalin’s going to be unleashed.” LOL!

          • Mark R.
            Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

            artists’ !

  34. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Yes, that was a great generation! (I used to be, well still are in a way, a great fan of Jimi Hendrix, albeit well after his death. and of most of those mentioned too, where, say, Yes and Canned Heat are missing).
    However, I think there is some great modern rock/pop/R&B of more recent age too.
    Mbarimbe* (kwaito), Luniz, Mario, Usher, Amy Winehouse, Brenda Fassi, Freshly Ground Simpiwe Dana and many, many, many others.
    [* Mbarimbe’s ‘Sister Bethina’ is considered the unofficial national anthem of the RSA, of course not everybody likes kwaito, but it is still iconic.


    ]

    Furthermore, I’m of the opinion that the greatest Baroque music was written between 1600 and 1770 🙂
    I consider Baroque music about the greatest music ever written, from Claudio Monteverdi (Greenberg!) to Antonio Soler (with, of course JS Bach and GF Händel between those two).

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Dow did that embed? I did not include the https://. My apologies.

      • darrelle
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        Don’t know, but thanks. Love it.

  35. darrelle
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    A very largely agree about the current state of Pop music. But, even in that apparent wasteland some really good stuff is created.

    A fairly recent example I use to remind myself of this is Love On The Brain by Rhianna. When I first heard the song I thought it was some classic from the 60s or 70s that I had somehow missed. But it’s from 2016. I think this song is outstanding.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      I reckon you’d like Lana del Rey then. Try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_9WeZhp-KQ

      She started out as a bit of a joke, but by the sheer brilliance of the music she releases she’s kind of forced critics to take her seriously.

      • darrelle
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        I’ve known the name for a while but knew nothing of her music. Very nice song, she has a lovely voice. I next found a live performance by her of Blue Jeans. Love it.

  36. David W.
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    What happened in the 1960s was a convergence of 1) white performers picking up on black R&B both in the U.S. and in the U.K. 2) the U.S. and U.K. Baby Boom cohort coming of age in huge numbers, ushering in among other things the sexual revolution and the counter-culture that was reflected in the music of that decade 3) the emergence of television as a mass media 4) the emergence of the recording studio as a musical instrument. All these things helped make the 1960s as big as they were musically and of course culturally. This isn’t to say that musicians and bands as talented as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, etc. didn’t matter. But there were plenty of talented and important* musicians like Chuck Berry that predated them but weren’t as big.

    So I don’t quite buy the thesis that there was something particularly extraordinary about the 1960s musically, because of said factors that were involved as well.

    (* – when asked about his definition of rock and roll, John Lennon once quipped “You could call it Chuck Berry”. John should know.)

  37. David W.
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    What happened in the 1960s was a convergence of 1) white performers picking up on black R&B both in the U.S. and in the U.K. 2) the U.S. and U.K. Baby Boom cohort coming of age in huge numbers, ushering in among other things the sexual revolution and the counter-culture that was reflected in the music of that decade 3) the emergence of television as a mass media 4) the emergence of the recording studio as a musical instrument. All these things helped make the 1960s as big as they were musically and of course culturally. This isn’t to say that musicians and bands as talented as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, etc. didn’t matter. But there were plenty of talented and important* musicians like Chuck Berry that predated them but weren’t as big.

    So I don’t quite buy the thesis that there was something particularly extraordinary about the 1960s musically, because other factors were involved other than the music.

    (* – when asked about his definition of rock and roll, John Lennon once quipped “You could call it Chuck Berry”. John should know.)

  38. Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Well, the sports legends from the 60s and early 70s are also really old or dead, too. What a strange coincidence.

  39. Annette Moyle
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    He totally ignores Buddy Holly Ritchie Valens Big Boppa and all the other 50,’s stars: Phil may be gone but Don’s still around (Everly), Willie Nelson

    • Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes, and there was some great music in the 50s, but I maintain that it was better in the sixties. But really, “Ritchie Valens” and “Oh, Donna”?
      At any rate, your comment is not very polite. Who, exactly, do you mean by “He”?
      Please read the posting Roolz on the sidebar.

  40. Posted September 5, 2019 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    My guess is that there is the same amount of talent around now but it has a harder time finding an audience. The industry has finely tuned their delivery and monetization machine and it just doesn’t allow for artists with a unique vision to rise and be heard like in the old days.

    I’ve heard good stuff on some Sirius channels and I know there’s good music online but I will admit that it is hard work to find it and as I age I find I’m unwilling to put in the effort.

  41. Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your assessment entirely, though I’m hoping against hope for a rock renaissance of sorts. This is based on the fact that many of the current generation have been exposed to the music their parent/grandparents love and much prefer it to that of their own.

    Case in point is my 5-year-old grandson, who loves and can sing many Beatle songs (his favorite is “With A Little Help from My Friends,” which he sings with his stuffed animals), can recognize all the Beatles by name and even tell you their birthdays. Another: the other day I was at a coffee shop and the barista, who looked to be in his early 20s, was humming “A Horse with No Name”—not a favorite of mine by any means, but I pointed out that he was way too young to know that song. He said that he and all his friends much preferred music from their parents’ day to the “junk we’re getting now” and he too cited his love of the Beatles.

    So perhaps we’re going through the Dark Ages of music and kids from 4 to 24 are like the monks keeping rock alive for future generations to discover and emulate. Too sanguine?

  42. Steve Cameron
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see the point in comparing classic rock to the pop music of the last twenty or so years, Jerry, given that rock hasn’t really been well represented in top 40 since the millennium. If you’re curious to hear modern rock that might appeal to you there are ways to do it. Many of your favorite artists probably have a few current bands or acts they recommend for example. NPR’s All Songs Considered is a pretty good show to hear the new music that’s not necessarily aiming for Top 40. I’m not a big rock fan myself, but I like Jack White, The Dirty Projectors, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend, and, going back a bit, The Strokes and The Killers. I understand if none of that is your thing and you only want to listen to the music you’re comfortable with. But just as the rock music of 40 or 50 years ago is held up today, in another 50 years people who are in their teens and twenties now will be looking back at something just as fondly, something that we’re all probably missing or dismissing.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      I like Tame Impala a lot. ‘Why Won’t They Talk To Me?’ is one of my favourite songs of the decade.

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      The Killers! I like Vampire Weekend as well.

  43. Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    One word: Tool.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      How dare you.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know how to explain the appeal of Tool. Clearly they are popular and I admit a younger version of myself would be into them.

      It seems to me they went down the path that Metallica didn’t – heavy, layered (as late King Crimson might have done) clear riffs, odd time signatures – almost with a mesmerizing effect.The tonal nature and expression seems always minor and grim – never cheerful – and the songs seem never to go far from where they start – they are long and highly structured with literally mathematical puzzle level composition but that’s not the same thing as going somewhere.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        I agree about Tool. I’ve never understood the appeal. And I’ve always hated tricksy time signatures. I can’t think of a single song that’s been improved by them.

        • Brujo Feo
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          “And I’ve always hated tricksy time signatures.”

          SURELY you must make an exception for the intro to “Whipping Post.”

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            I hadn’t heard that before. Yes, that’s a pretty cool intro.

            …Yet I still think it would sound as good if it was played in a normal time signature. That’s just me though.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

              These unusual timings are essential:

              Peter Gabriel Solsbury Hill
              7/4

              The Stranglers Golden Brown
              13/8

              Radiohead 2+2=5
              7/8 & 5/2 & 4/4

              Radiohead Pyramid Song
              Depends who you ask

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

                Those are all fantastic choices. I’d forgotten about them entirely.

                I’m still not sure tricksy time sigs actually add to the song, but they don’t detract from the ones you listed. I’ve always loved Golden Brown too.

                As a musical curio, and because there’s something mindbendingly awesome about it, I’ll leave you a link to this:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiKWfcy-Z70

                It sounds like the heat death of the universe. I came across it by accident and thought ‘that sounds completely pointless’. Ten minutes later I was still listening, rapt. Every chord change is a mountain, every vocal an ice age…

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

                Ta. Lighting up a spliff immediately to enjoy with the P y r a m i d S o n

                g

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

                Golden Brown- from that Guy Ritchie movie? I don’t think that’s 13/8 – it’s simply a waltz feel – 3/4 or 12/8… from memory..,

                Which is another point to make : 3/4 songs can be so good I don’t even notice the odd time signature… oh, to my knowledge “odd” means “not 4/4” and maybe “not 3/4”…because 3/4 is quite common.

                Example might be…can’t think of one… oh this will bug me…

                God Only Knows and Strawberry Fields Forever would be examples of unusual time signature shifts within a framework of conventional time signatures…

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

                It isn’t! Why work from memory?
                It can be written up as 13/4 or 13/8 or 3/4+3/4+3/4+1/4 and there’s guitar tabs that put it purely at 3/4, but it isn’t the latter.

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

                Oh I remember that part now.

                That’s just one part. You wouldn’t write it like that, you’d just say three bars of 3/4 and one of 4/4. And you would just say it’s in 3/4 – you’d ignore the 4/4 bit. I’ll try to listen to it later.

                I erred in saying 12/8.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

                you’d just say three bars of 3/4 and one of 4/4

                No. Get off my lawn – I will stick to MY truth 🙂

                I’m going with the best transcription I can find & you can see that eights work better for the harpsichord main instrument, where the notes say [link below]:

                The song is very repetitive (the amount of “repeat measure” signs is the most that I’ve ever seen in a pop rock score), but it has earned an iconic status thanks to the exotic touch of the harpsichord and the unusual 13:8 structure of the intro and bridges (best seen as three times 3:8 followed by 4:8)…

                Another transcription writes up the 13:8 structure as 6:8 + 7:8 to the measure which of course sounds exactly the same. EXAMPLE SCORE

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

                OK I’m glad you persisted because I listened and (1) it’s quickly paced, more than I recalled and (2) the hi hat is on the eighth notes. If it was 3/4, the hi hat would be twice as frequent. It’s a lovely little song.

                The phrasing and the tempo are such that it is unclear (to me) if it’s a waltz and if it’s 3/4. There’s a two-step thing but I don’t understand that. So having eighth notes in the signature looks sensible- but not 13/8, instead the 6/8 then 7/8 like that nifty score shows.

                .. I even saw the part where Brad Pitt knocks that guy out.

              • ThyroidPlanet
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

                Pyramid Song sounds perfect- I don’t even care what the time signature is, it works so well…

              • Mark R.
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

                Pink Floyd Money 7/8 & 4/4

              • rickflick
                Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

                Thanks for the links.
                Here’s another nice version of Pyramid Song:

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGhr9oF4dww

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 6, 2019 at 2:38 am | Permalink

                Mark R said
                “Pink Floyd Money 7/8 & 4/4”

                Finally! I was w-a-i-t-i-n-g for someone to get around to that…

                🙂

                cr

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted September 6, 2019 at 4:54 am | Permalink

                @rickflick – that version of Pyramid Song is fantastic. That cello…

      • Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Whoof, you write for a music mag? 😉

        When I was younger, I thought nothing of them, it was when I pasted on some maturity that I really appreciated their music. Even the lesser of their profferings surpasses some of today’s most popular music.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          Are there any Tool songs that have a cheerful sound?

          I forgot to make an exception – Tool keep the metronome in a narrow range – nothing fast as Metallica wrote…. AFAIK.

          • Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

            Tempo has always been slow, I cannot comment about the new album. Cheerful is subjective IMO.

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

              “Cheerful is subjective IMO.”

              Spoken like a die hard Tool fan

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        …although Darrelle posted a rather cool cover of tool upthread. That’s worth watching even if you’re not keen on the song. The girl singer’s great.

  44. Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, I don’t agree with you about jazz.

    For me ‘jazz’ (as a verb’) didn’t really get going until the art form stopped using show tunes as the basis for improvisation. This dates from the late 50s with ‘Kind of Blue’ (Miles) and ‘Giant Steps’ (Coltrane). Not that musicians weren’t ‘jazzing’ before that (bebop), it’s just that from this time on the artform found it’s real creative power.

    Much great ‘jazz’ continues to be made today, encompassing many musical styles. It’s about improvisation, not the rehashing of romantic (and often beautiful) show tunes of yesteryear.

    Anyway, that’s my view, no doubt distorted by my having 55 years of my life trying to play this stuff.

    rz

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      You can add Mingus’s Ah Um and Brubeck’s Time Out and Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come to the list — 1959 was an annus mirabilis of sorts for jazz’s new thing.

  45. mfdempsey1946
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Two words: Warren Zevon.

    • Brujo Feo
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Yes–“Excitable Boy” is one of the great albums of all time.

  46. merilee
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Mea culpa. I was confusing the Bay City rollers with the proclaimers. I liked 500 miles. Not sure with the Bay City rollers did…

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 6, 2019 at 5:58 am | Permalink

      That explains a lot. Bay City Rollers were before my time but they were like this:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytii7-bUxuk

      Guh.

      • phoffman56
        Posted September 6, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        I can recall my son, then 9, doing the ‘air guitar’ thing with friends in our Cambridge England backyard, to the Bay City Rollers, not from Bay City, Scotland. Music for the attention level of 9 year olds, it seemed to me then.
        He became a professional rock musician (drums), and so has his son (guitar, now a 26 year old), in southern Ontario mostly.
        My children heard plenty of Beatles, Roger Waters etc. back then, though I’m afraid, however much I enjoy it, that I consider rock etc. to be sort of ‘short attention span’ music. That’s fine when it comes to matters of a ‘there’s no accounting for taste’ kind. (It’s the ‘short attention span’ news from Twitter and Facebook that really is a human problem!)

        Anyway, running history backwards, being subjected in the background to hours and hours of Gustav Mahler, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach did him no harm I’m sure.

  47. A C Harper
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Another related issue – sound playing equipment. Lots of people (younger than I) listen to music on headphones, or earbuds, or bluetooth or wi-fi speakers.

    I’ve just bought some second hand Monitor Audio MA1 Series II “Quality Vintage Monitors”. They are big beasts but the sound, the sound. So good, and really good at playing rock with clearly separable instruments and deep tuneful base. Vintage speakers for vintage rock.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Those approx 45 year old MA1 IIs of yours are lovely beasts [best with the little stands with four castors each stand to take them off the floor 6″ or so], but there’s a few [very few among the chic dross!] very good contemporary equivalents that play vintage rock just as well IMO.

    • darrelle
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I have a pair of B&W DM640s I bought about 1992 or so. Still sound fantastic. Drive them with a pair of B&K monoblocs and preamp from the same time.

  48. Steve Pollard
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Don’t like dull corporate music? Nor do I. Easy: ignore it. Get off your arses and start supporting your hometown bands.

    The town where I live, in Kent, has just celebrated its annual ‘Local & Live’ weekend: 40-odd artists, in a dozen venues, all free (beer and food extra!), all good fun, and (it has to be said) most of them bringing out stuff that is far more original and interesting than anything that most of the old crew can produce these days. (I make an exception of Daltrey and Townshend: they will surely get old long before they die).

    Old muses don’t really die: they just f-f-fade away. But the music never dies! And there are plenty of young performers keeping the flame alive.

    • tjeales
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, as I got into my 40s I stopped seeking out new music and going out to see local bands. I was bored with the radio and all our kids were going to school and taking up our time and money. Now in my fifties I’ve decided to make the effort to go see local bands again and I have no fears for the future of music or rock n roll.

  49. Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    If you don’t understand the doom of Rock, you must not have been in Chicago in the 60’s and 70’s. The 50,000 watt voice of WLS, first station to broadcast the Beatles in the US? Dick Biondi? Ron Riley? Am I hearing a dial tone out there? Here, let me spoon feed it to you.

  50. Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Once upon a time, rock (rock’n’roll) had all the space to itself, cause it was in your face, now it’s a crowd with all its spawns and the squeeze the digital platforms have provided.
    The artwork on vinyl LP’s made them an event and the holder a statement in your lounge. Hand eye coordination was essential like no remote or keyboard could muster, not least, you had to move off the couch to spin.
    Rock said something, it’s not saying the same thing 21st century, it has done it’s best.. and worst. That said, there will be some kid somewhere who will rock it with a fresh approch and I quite like how some artist give old tunes a revamp. Like the two ladies from Heart doing Stairway to Heaven and the cello duo doing AC~DC’s Thunderstruck WTF awesome.

  51. peterdvm
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Rock isn’t dead. It may not sell as it once did. Meanwhile you can find great rock music coming out of alternative country. Such as Sturgill Simpson (eg.”Sing Along”.) Or Jason Isbell. Or metal, Tool’s new album “Fear Inoculum”is likely to displace Taylor Swift(uggghhhh) from number one this week.Greta Van Fleet and The Struts and War On Drugs certainly represent traditional rock. music.

  52. Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    It’s trivially true that the generation of popular rock is now reaching fragility and possible demise. Everyone knows the few artist because of limit airwaves in yesteryear.

    Aside of that, of course, I disagree. There’s too much music out there, which makes it difficult to show it. So that this sentiment almost certainly comes from people who don’t spent time looking for, and listening to music.

    I plug below a semi-random collection of 23 tracks to discover more in that general direction (once you have an entry, you can click through recommendations until your last sunrise). My vague criteria was an eclectic mix of recent rock-ish music, also interesting voices with a vague idea what other readers might like i.e. not necessarily my favourites. I don’t like some of the songs below, but e.g. Lemon Twigs sounds sufficiently Beatles and are still innovative, so they made the cut. The Brian Jonestown Massacre covers the Rolling Stones direction of mixolydian classic rock. Some of these artist should be well known, I added them as a reminder. For example, Lenny Kravitz is dead-on rock, is not that old, and he has recorded songs that can be considered classic. Rehab, the same. The top two are already dead, but still count as younger musicians even if they cannot produce more.

    Crossing my fingers that these links are not parsed as links or embedded. (you must copy the links without the first underscore).

    Amy Winehouse – Rehab (_youtu.be/KUmZp8pR1uc)
    Elliott Smith – Son Of Sam (_youtu.be/afeAUndotas)
    John Frusciante – Song To Sing When I’m Lonely (_youtu.be/d7qQVXdiREU)
    King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Boogieman Sam (_youtu.be/-kE1S9olY6A)
    Radiohead – Recockner (_youtu.be/Vxx11xnoJHg)
    Queens of the Stone Age – Make it With Chu (_youtu.be/0wTxqHbJOzg)
    Joanna Newsom – Emily (_youtu.be/UGoNCvoZuYA)
    The Brian Jonestown Massacre – What You Isn’t (_youtu.be/mN0jEY5m2PA)
    Hiss Golden Messenger – Highland Grace (_youtu.be/YI5UzVaFumU)
    Jacob Collier – It Don’t Matter (feat. JoJo) (_youtu.be/3Ed-LrvRQx0)
    Graveyard – Ain’t Fit to Live Here (_youtu.be/WY5QYhOtROM)
    Gil Scott-Heron – Me And The Devil (_youtu.be/OET8SVAGELA)
    Royal Blood – Lights Out (youtu.be/ZSznpyG9CHY)
    The Lemon Twigs – I Wanna Prove to You (_youtu.be/pJGzm2fF2Uo)
    Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way (_youtu.be/8LhCd1W2V0Q)
    Brandi Charlile – The Joke (_youtu.be/5r6A2NexF88)
    Astrosoniq – As Soon As They Got Airborne (_youtu.be/_YxE9JETWis)
    The Go! Team – Milk Crisis (_youtu.be/ZMeJx1jP2C0)
    Beck – Dreams (_youtu.be/oTM3YPTYNo0)
    Junip – Don’t Let It Pass (_youtu.be/3kCNM90F_M0)
    Steve Wilson – Steven Wilson The Raven That Refused To Sing (_youtu.be/n8sLcvWG1M4)
    Lampchop – This Corrosion *cover (_youtu.be/uWdvXBa_o5s)
    alt J – Left Hand Free (_youtu.be/NRWUoDpo2fo)
    WEIT Bonus: The Magnetic Fields – ’68 A Cat Called Dionysus (_youtu.be/SAAkUmNZf34)

    • tjeales
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Just saw King Gizzard a couple of months back. Mind blowing stuff that I’d stack up against any band from the seventies in terms of musicianship and innovation and plain joy of music.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      I’m left a little flat with this collection having listened to 5 or 6 at pseudo-random. But I am an old geezer. So, apologies if my taste in music has atrophied. They seem derivative and I can almost call out the bands of the 60s they are imitating. On the other hand, they all seem competent, if that means anything. I was born in Toronto, so, sorry, eh?

      • Posted September 6, 2019 at 7:18 am | Permalink

        That’s a feature, not a bug — I tended to pick stuff that doesn’t stray too far from yesteryear rock, because otherwise “it’s different, I don’t like it” kicks in, and there are still plenty of examples that are innovative within the lane.

  53. tjeales
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    The sixties and seventies was a peculiar time because of the extent to which the broader culture idolised musicians. Granted they were producing some exceptional music, however I can go down to the local indie venue and see exceptional music being played whenever I make the effort.

    Certainly what got marketed as the popular music got very corporatised in the eighties and nineties. However the real problem with rock is that everyone got so hooked on the idea that it was so important and so world changing that it eventually disappeared up its own pretentious anus.

  54. Barry Lyons
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    How about Cotton Mather? Their second album, Kon Tiki (from 1997), is regarded by some (me included) as the best album that the Beatles never made. Have a taste with “Homefront Cameo”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlSTNH95WaY

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 5, 2019 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      I have difficulty enjoying that track because it’s so close to the Beatles [even a bit of raga in there] that it feels like a second best version – the vocals are Lennon with a touch of Squeeze in the vocal harmonies. But it’s my first ever hearing & I should listen to the album. And I might. How do you rate the album Barry?

      • rickflick
        Posted September 5, 2019 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

        Same here. It sounds imitative, which spoils the fun.

  55. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    It is pretty fundamental that music of the next generation is not going to be liked by the previous one. My folks could not stand rock and Roll or any of the music from the 50s & 60s. As it rolled on into the 70s and 80s they remained just the same – totally out of it. We did not attempt to force them or throw them off the earth. We just parted company on the subject. Most of my generation left the building when rap music took over. It was like a foreign language we did not understand or like. It is just life moving on for better or worse.

  56. Posted September 5, 2019 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Instead of teaching the new musicians how to make good music, they embrace the new musical culture, and want to be like these new phene musicians.

  57. David Fuqua
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    The songs don’t die and the best from the sixties deserve to live on. Many younger bands find their inspiration in the music of the sixties. Buy their records when you hear something you like. And don’t forget tribute bands!

  58. Jerry Rice
    Posted September 5, 2019 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I am an aging baby boomer and an amateur musician. I agree that the controversies of the late 1960s and ’70s – the Viet Nam War, the civil rights movement, assorted assassinations, etc. spawned the most powerful music of my lifetime. I celebrate that music by covering it and seeing shows like Dead and Company whenever I can. I also celebrate the music being written and performed today. My current favorite musicians seem to do the same – they perform their own muzic along with examples of that classic rock that informs their writing. I would point to the Tedeschi Trucks band or any of Warren Haynes’ groups.
    The current Dead line up offers another example of how the music is staying alive. Some of the line up is original members, and some are younger players – Meyer, Burbage, and Chimenti. I apologise to any and all whose names I misspelled. Not only are those younger players influencing the music and keeping it fresh, the older members are also passing it along, for free, and inviting that influence.
    My prognosis is much more positive than yours.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 6, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I love the Tedeschi Trucks band. And, for once, I’ve gotta credit youtube’s algorithms for turning me on to them.

      I had I-can’t-even-remember-what playing on youtube, and left the room to take a shower. When I walked back in, youtube had auto-selected Tedeschi Trucks for me, and I’ve been listening to ’em ever since.

  59. Posted September 6, 2019 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Behold the killing fields that lie before us: Bob Dylan (78 years old); Paul McCartney (77); Paul Simon (77) and Art Garfunkel (77); Carole King (77); Brian Wilson (77); Mick Jagger (76) and Keith Richards (75); Joni Mitchell (75); Jimmy Page (75) and Robert Plant (71); Ray Davies (75); Roger Daltrey (75) and Pete Townshend (74); Roger Waters (75) and David Gilmour (73); Rod Stewart (74); Eric Clapton (74); Debbie Harry (74); Neil Young (73); Van Morrison (73); Bryan Ferry (73); Elton John (72); Don Henley (72); James Taylor (71); Jackson Browne (70); Billy Joel (70); and Bruce Springsteen (69, but turning 70 next month).

    Frankly, all the people listed above have already done their best work. If they all died tomorrow as opposed to, say, in twenty years, the music landscape will not change very much.

    I’ve seen six of those people play live (Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Dave Gilmour on the same day, as it happens) but I wouldn’t want to see any of the rest of them play live now. They are too old.

    These people’s deaths will not herald a crisis in the music industry, but merely serve to remind us of what we once had.

    There is, in fact, plenty of good music being produced, it’s just that it is no longer to be found on the radio. This year I have been to several gigs and festivals and seen some really goods bands, but they don’t get exposure outside of the concert circuit.

    I think, by the way, that the real dead hand is the music streaming services. When I was young, if you listened to the radio, you were forced to hear bands and songs outside of your “comfort zone”. Nowadays, streaming services just serve you up with stuff they think you will like.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 6, 2019 at 5:35 am | Permalink

      That’s all true and I think you’re onto something with the streaming services.

      But I think there’s still the matter of the strength of those artists’ statements – where is the Sgt. Peppers equivalent of today? Perhaps time will tell…

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 6, 2019 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        Thyroid you’re beginning to sound like some old duffer with his needle stuck in one era. The veneration of Sgt. Pepper is absurd – it’s not even the best Beatles album! It’s not even an album in any reasonable coherent way – it’s a collection of songs inside an effin ace cover with some Beatles magic pixie dust on some of the tracks.

        Sgt Pepper has weak tracks [the twee, tin pan alley/music hall ones mainly] & some masterful tracks. My Music Bee Sgt. Pepper has five tracks – the other tracks, which I deleted, I’ll be so very happy never, ever to hear again.

        The real ‘Sgt Pepper’ of the mid/late ’60s is worth a good argument, but for me it is often [depends on my mood] Love’s majestic, ecstatic, playful Forever Changes [1967]

        OR

        If we’re judging by works that hang together as a coherent whole there are loads that stamp all over ‘Sgt.’ – there’s a couple of female singer/songwriters alone who have produced an album each that’s worth listening to from beginning to end.

        Anyway a personal sample of ‘Sgt’ beaters:

        Procol Harum A Salty Dog [1969]
        The Soft Machine The Soft Machine [1968]
        Townes Van Zandt Townes Van Zandt [1969]
        Jethro Tull Thick As A Brick [1972]
        PJ Harvey [any album in the 2000s]
        Radiohead In Rainbows [2007]

        Put that in your pipe & smoke it [as they used to say] 🙂

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted September 6, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

          Well then it could simply be that the type of things said in the “Statements” from the best 60’s and 70’s popular music could only be said at that time. Because there’s something to that period. Things that need to be said now make a different Statement- I’m thinking an analogy to shapes might help – the old Statements took a larger than life shape – the Statements in recent past take smaller shapes, and are more Balkanized (?). Mumble rap exists alongside Beyoncé, alongside The Black Keys – the audience is fragmented, by nature of the consumption mode – personal playlists on personal computers. And as Jeremy suggested (to me), and I understand, the listener creates a sort of glass menagerie to comfort themselves with regularity (I do this but I like to call it “studying” each piece carefully). Perhaps an AI can feed new stuff in. But will that turn us “into some machine”?

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted September 6, 2019 at 9:23 am | Permalink

            ….artists’ statements – where is the [inser name of good album from the ’60s] equivalent of today?…

            We honour the stuff that resonates today from the ’60s [& not always for the musical value – it might be it tied in with a movement at the time such as the resistance to the Second Indochina war] & we’ve forgotten the vast mountains of garbage vinyl on the shelves back then. That’s one of the “Statements” you seem to be referring to.

            There is no justification for setting up a question that implies there’s no current music that matches the quality of ALBUM X from the 60s. And it isn’t even about the seeming fragmentation of genres – the amount of discovery you want to engage in today is entirely up to you Thyroid. If you are the lazy ‘consumer’ you’ll let Jeremy’s music streaming services be your guide, but if you actually are engaged you’ll have other sources of information that you go to. That’s what people who love music do. Nothing to do with AI, it’s how committed to new music you & all it takes is the gathering of a few tools to explore with.

            • ThyroidPlanet
              Posted September 6, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

              I thought the big idea here is not quality but the signature – the idea being expressed. The quote I recall is “Statement” from the main posting. Perhaps PCC(E) referred to “quality” but there’s a distinction to be made between looking at a piece of music as if checking off a table of quality metrics and asking what a piece of music expressing.

              And for the record : I share my personal habits with music – which have varied significantly over the years – as markers for what I’m trying to explain – I didn’t think I put them forth as prescriptions.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 6, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        @Thyroid. JAC wrote:

        “…songs and albums were treated by all. . . as Statements.” And to me this rings true. Think, for example, of Sergeant Pepper

        I have no idea what “Statement” means there – it might just mean making an album that is distinctive – stands out from the crowd. It doesn’t mean ‘quality’ nor ‘concept album’ nor ‘protest album’ since ‘Sgt.’ is none of those things.

        The nearest I can get to defining what a “Statement” album is is one that is powerful & hangs together in some way – perhaps the tracks take us through a coherent change of moods or the exact opposite – a series of surprises, but I don’t see ‘Sgt.’ as particularly strong in those respects or any other.

        A good example of a Statement album is Black Sabbath Paranoid [1970] – nothing like it existed before. And it hit us in the face with an almost punk rawness. Now that’s a Statement album.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted September 6, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

          Precisely – Paranoid. You just say “Sabbath – Paranoid” and you need say no more. I know and get it. That’s what I’d call a signature, or, to connect it to this post, “Statement”.

          I’d argue Sgt. Peppers, Rubber Soul, Revolver also make a signature, though, as signatures go, it’s distinct.

          Singles also can do this, but I think we are talking about the heights of the forest here – what we can say on the grandest scale.

          • merilee
            Posted September 6, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

            Love Rubber Soul and Revolver. I think I ODed on Sergeant Pepper when it came out. Have no desire to listen to it anymore.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted September 6, 2019 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      When I was young, if you listened to the radio, you were forced to hear bands and songs outside of your “comfort zone”.

      That was especially true in the early days of FM stations, I think, before corporations started buying them up. Back then, there were disc jockeys who had followings, ones who would go out of their way to expose their audiences to new records and stuff that was off the beaten path.

      And they had an independence, even a transgressive attitude, some of them. Hell, I remember listening to a show one Sunday morning where the DJ played a song with a drum solo. He got a call from the station manager saying, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Nobody wants to hear a goddamn drum solo on Sunday morning!” So, outta spite, the DJ spent the rest of his show spinning discs with drum solos — including the infamous four-and-a-half minutes from “In a Gada Da Vida.” 🙂

      It’s also why, even after I was a relatively old fart in my thirties and forties and fifties I continued to listen to college radio stations, whenever I was within range their usually weak signals. It was one way to get exposed to something fresh and new.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 6, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        Your DJ story reminds me of a local guy who locked himself in the studio and played “Alley Oop”,by the Hollywood Argyles all day long. I don’t think he was heroically transgressive. I think it was publicity stunt. 😎

  60. ethologist
    Posted September 6, 2019 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Wow, posts about popular music bring out a lot of commentary! This will get lost in the shuffle, but here’s another point: how two producer/composers have come to dominate the production of popular music in recent years: https://nypost.com/2015/10/04/your-favorite-song-on-the-radio-was-probably-written-by-these-two/

  61. Posted September 6, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    The greatest song ever written 😊 from the bastard child of rock is still barely 30 years old, with the performers now in their 50s

    • darrelle
      Posted September 6, 2019 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      The band that took some semblance of thrash metal mainstream. A favorite of mine.

  62. Posted September 6, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Is my memory correct? Do I remember that the last time we discussed this matter the specifics were “is *popular music* dead?” and now it is “is *rock* dead?”

    If so, it is certainly possible that the latter can be true but not the former – styles change, after all.

  63. merilee
    Posted September 6, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of Steve Earle, as we were earlier, I heard a song by his son Justin Townes Earle on a wonderful Australian TV series last night called Mystery Road (the series, highly recommended). Don’t know the name of the song. Justin’s middle name is after the late great Townes Van Zandt.

  64. Jim Kelley
    Posted September 6, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Are you saying Ian Anderson is going to live forever?

  65. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 9, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I submit for consideration, the following performance as hope for the future of popular music – starts slow, gets super busy :

    Jacob Collier- Love in Toronto- With The Love In My Heart https://youtu.be/AzQKID8AUHM

    – live performance
    – incorporation of modern sounds (e.g. the “pzzzzt” of modern rap, the acoustic instruments)
    – audience participation
    – melody
    – groove
    – interesting harmony
    – Collier started literally in his house, doing literally everything- writing, playing, recording, producing. The “if you build it, they will come” dream. In this live show, he plays at one moment, bass, then piano, then percussion, singing the whole time.

    I know it is too busy for many, but the takeaway is that there’s an audience who knows there’s better stuff than what can be heard coming out of the average souped-up car stereos.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted September 9, 2019 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Typo : “Live in Toronto”

    • rickflick
      Posted September 9, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      He seems to play every instrument in the band. Quite a guy.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted September 9, 2019 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        And the only dancing- if it can be called that – is Collier just running around directing the audience and trying to get to the next instrument on his mind…

        That is – no choreographed dance numbers- or fancy clothing…


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