Sunday, January 15, 2012

I am a grumpy old man ... or why today's rock music sucks

A recent conversation on Facebook got me to thinking about my age and the current state of rock music.

My initial post was something simple, "I miss ... rock music." Which has been followed up by a dozen or so suggestions from others, suggestions for modern bands I should listen to.

So I popped over to YouTube and spent a few hours listening to all this music. Most of it was actually pretty good. Most of it was stuff I could listen to on a regular basis ... but not when I'm in the mood for ROCK music.

As I made a point of telling others on Facebook, when I want to hear rock music, I want music that waves a middle finger at you, that says a big, bold F-U. No, that does not mean I only want to listen to heavy metal or '80s thrash bands or something like that. Despite the protestations of some, rock music when done well can scream "F-U" and still be artistic, with talent. Jim Morrison. Johnny Cash. Early Soundgarden. The Beatles on their edgier stuff. The Who. Even U2 on certain songs. Van Halen during its wackiest David Lee Roth days was still waving a finger at "The Man."

I find next to none of that in today's music. The only musicians who come close, in my opinion, are Jack White (and then only sometimes) and, of all people, Kid Rock, who I generally do not enjoy (though sometimes I do). And then there's comedian Jack Black, who has a joke band called Tenacious D which rocks harder than any of bands of today. It's a sad state of affairs when a joke band rocks harder than the supposed real thing.

And, keep in mind, those three guys I listed above aren't really modern. White has been around more than a decade now, Rock has been around more than a couple of decades now, and Black ain't exactly young, either.

When I listen to younger bands today, I do not hear rock music, at least not by the definitions of rock music I grew up with. Instead, I hear what used to be called easy listening music, or at best, soft rock.

And there's nothing wrong with that. I like that music myself when I'm in the mood for it.

But when I want to hear ROCK music, by god, I want to hear ROCK music.

So you think it's untalented? Guess what, F U. You think it's not artistic? Guess what, F U. You think it out and out sucks? Hey, you know where to go.

That's the point, often the whole point.

In a way, I realize it's just me getting old. But on the other hand, I look at younger people today and see the biggest bunch of mamby pamby grandpas and grandmas that have ever lived. Everything has to be so artistic. Everything has to talk about my feelings. By all that's holy, grow a pair, okay?

Yes, there's a time and place for touchy feely music. I'll listen to Counting Crows or David Gray or Aimee Mann or somebody and love the heck out of it.

But it is not ALL I listen to. And it's not strictly speaking rock music.

What often boggles my mind is that we live in one of the most angry ages of all history, definitely modern history, yet where is the music of anger to be found? It's not. Where is the music of frustration? Nowhere. I would have fully expected a renaissance of rock music during such turbulent times, but nope, nada, zilch. Instead, we get Bieber fever and Lady Gaga.

Oh, we've had pop music and touchy feely tunes for years, and I don't mean to disparage it. Honestly, I don't. Paul McCartney is one of the greatest pop musicians who ever lived, and Adam Duritz is one of the best lyricists I've had the pleasure to hear during my lifetime. Michael Jackson knew how to put together a great, catchy pop single.

So yeah, we had that music back in the day. But that was not ALL we had.

Hell, I've never been a big rap or hip hop fan, but today I'd settle for some NWA or Wu-Tang Clan. Instead, all we get is music that's Will Smith. No, that's an insult to Will Smith. What we've got today is Will Smith lite.

Two last points ...

1.) It's all nice that there are a million bands out there on YouTube, however, for the few screaming with angst, doing so from mom's basement or dad's garage kind of defeats the purpose. Yes, all musicians have to start somewhere, it's true, but they move beyond their beginnings. "The Man" isn't going to blink an eye because you're throwing a fit between the lawn mower and the charcoal grill. "The Man" is only going to pay attention when you stand up and shove your music down his throat.

Ask John Lennon, if you don't believe me.

2.) Arguing over which music or band is better is rather junior high schoolish. Oh, sorry, showing my age again. I meant, it's so middle schoolish. Rock used to be the music of youth (though it doesn't seem to be nowadays), but that doesn't mean we fans have to act like we're still back in school. Grow up and again, grow a pair.

Okay, I lied ... here's my last point ...

For those who might be offended by what I've written here ... do I even need to say it?

Okay, just this once for old time's sake ... F U.


Keith said...

"Rock on!" I scream, as I rock in my rocking chair. I knew I was officially old when earlier this year I cut my hair, which had been past my shoulders for most of two decades, for a job interview. That I didn't get.

Still, you raise valid points. Well said.

Ty Johnston said...

Keith, I've gone back and forth all my life concerning the hair thing. I'll go a few years with it long, then I'll go a few years with it short. I prefer it long, but then I get tired of fooling with it and cut it.

Sorry to hear about the job interview. And the haircut. :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

American Falcon has that attitude, but these guys have been around for a long while, in different guises. Nugent had it for me.

David J. West said...

For my rock fix I've ended up moving toward euro-bands that get NO domestic radio airplay, at least so far as I've heard.

I'll mention Nightwish (Finland), Lacuna Coil (Italy), Within Temptation (Netherlands), Rammstein (Germany),
Black Strobes ~specifically, "I'm a Man" (France, yep can't believe it France) Granted as mentioned along with some of the others-these guys have all been around 10 years +.

But you're right, it does beg the question-where is that rebellious sound for American youth? I honestly don't know if I could think of anyone who has debuted in the last year or two or even five.

Looking over all the music on my computer-I can't find any ROCK from a debut artist of the last year or two. I like Foster the People, but they're more of a groove rock/pop sound.

Brent Nichols said...

Also, stay off my lawn. When I was your age...