Truthfully, I had to walk away from a conversation in late December that rock and roll are was dead as a boot; saggy skinned Boomers like myself have the feeling that last bit of authenticity ended as we came into our late twenties and had replaced avocations with careers. I’m just tired of anyone declaring whole art forms as “deceased” merely because they’ve gotten older; rock and roll seems healthy to me, as it goes, and however large a segment of the marketplace it holds, those who play it and those who listen to it, young and not so young, think the music is alive and, well, kicking ass. The complaints come down to this, The Fall from Grace; the Garden of Eden was so much nicer before the corporate snakes moved in and loused it up for everyone. Regardless of musical terms and the perfumed detritus terms that are tossed about like unraveling throw rugs over a lumpy and foul-smelling assertion, is the kind of junior-college cafeteria table thumping that is the least convincing of expression of what is, at root, matters so trivial in the larger scheme of what ought to concern is that it wouldn't rate as dust. It's less an argument than a Leviathan of overstatement those who make wish would materialize through a sheer act of collective self-pity, tall, heavy, portentous and haphazardly mounted, and wish further that it would topple over and smash the dull reality of adulthood to bits. Make the world go away, Eddy Arnold sang
...And get it off my shoulders
Say the things you used to say
And make the world go away
Do you remember when you loved me
Before the world took me astrayIf you do, then forgive meAnd make the world go awayMake the world go awayAnd get it off my shouldersSay the things you used to sayAnd make the world go awayI'm sorry if I hurt youI'll make it up day by dayJust say you love me like you used toAnd…
So we have men in their 60s and 60s, blowhard know-it-alls like myself, walking around in long grey hair despite receding hairlines and the gradual erosion of jawlines as they are absorbed by folds of flesh that are cursed with lines, ruts and rumors of veins that make parts of our once taut testimony resemble nothing so much than a collection of old road maps folded the wrong way too many time for too many years. Aerosmith, Yes, J.Geils, the goddamned Stones, the Grateful Dead, fucking Bob Dylan, the poets and prophets of our youthful idealism reduced to corporate logos sponsoring one overpriced nostalgia tour after another. Our best memories are sold back to us, authentic as Bakelite gemstones. Reading any good history of rock and roll music will have the music develop alongside the growth of an industry that started recording and distributing increasingly diverse kinds of music in order to widen market shares. The hand of the businessman, the soul of the capitalist machine has always been in and around the heart of rock and roll: every great rock and roll genius, every jazz master, each blues innovator has the basic human desire to get paid. Suffice to say that some we see as suffering poets whose travails avail them of images that deepen our sense of shared humanity see themselves still as human beings who require the means to pay for their needs and finance their wants, like the rest of us.
There has always been a marketplace where the music is played, heard, bought and sold--and like everything in these last months, the marketplace has changed, become bigger, more diffuse with new music, and new technologies. Some of us are vaguely, and snottily mournful for an era when only the music mattered, and something inside me pines for that innocence as well, but innocence is the same currency as naivete, and consciously arguing that the way I formerly perceived the world was the way it actually worked would be an exorcize in ignorance, as in the willful choice to ignore available facts that are contrary to a paradigm that's sinking into its loosely packed foundation. I suspect that for the typical young music listener now, this is the Eden they expect never to end, which means that it’s the best time in the world for rock and roll for some mass of folks out there.