Culture Corner

 

Who Killed Rock and Roll?

Bernie Langs

Bob Dylan with President Obama after playing at the “In Performance at The White House: A Celebration of Music from The Civil Rights Movement” concert, February 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Who killed Davey Moore
Why an’ what’s the reason for…
“Not I,” says the referee
Don’t point your finger at me
….It wasn’t me that made him fall
No, you can’t blame me at all…”

Who killed Davey Moore…
“Not us,” says the angry crowd…”
“Not me,” says his manager…”
“Not me,” says the gambling man…”
“Not me,” says the man whose fists
Laid him low in a cloud of mist….
“It was destiny, it was God’s will.”

Who killed Davey Moore

Why and what’s the reason for?

(Excerpts from Who Killed Davey Moore? by Bob Dylan)

Who killed rock and roll?

Why and what’s the reason for?

Not us, says the popular radio stations. We have charts and graphs and demographic studies proving what the people want to hear. So what if the classic rock stations play the same exact songs for years after years, grinding them into the ground and reducing the so-called precious recording artist’s output to a handful of songs? They should be grateful for the exposure if not the royalty checks. It doesn’t matter at all that what was once rare and precious is as free as oil spreading across a pristine bay. We have to maintain our advertising revenue. No shame in that, for after all, any good rock star will tell you a buck is a buck. “Hotel California” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” until your ears bleed? Get a real problem. It wasn’t us who made rock fall, no you can’t blame us at all.

Who killed rock and roll?

“Not us,” says MTV, we just made songs visual for all to see. Okay, maybe we had a few years of blatant racism until we saw the dollar signs in Michael Jackson’s eyes, and perhaps there are hundreds— okay, thousands—oh, okay, tens of thousands of videos demeaning women, reducing them to sexual objects for the pleasure of idiotic bad boys. Okay, the whole thing is one Marxist, drooling commodity fetish. But we spiffed up the genre with dancers! Scantily clad dancers, sure. And now we have really good looking artists, posers, and fashion leaders. If anything we expanded rock’s reach. We don’t even know what auto-tune is! They all lip-sync anyway! Live videos? Live is dead, man, get with it. It wasn’t us who made rock fall, no you can’t blame us at all.

Who killed rock and roll?

Not us, say the popular magazines. Sure, we loved to cover all the tragic rock stars’ meteoric falls into drug and alcohol abuse and their paranoid ravings and simplistic political posturing, but we also have our tearful in-depth profiles of their rebirths, their recoveries and all the life lessons learned. And now they’re making the very best music of their lives (of course not, but, hey, what do our readers know – just what momma would call “a little white lie” as Forrest Gump says). Really, doesn’t everybody want to know about the songs written about breakups between our stars, more craft in the guessing than in the actual music composition? As a guitarist yourself, you know you can strum from C to G all afternoon and get at least ten songs out of it! If you think of it that way, that’s real talent. And as our reporters are let into the artist’s inner sanctum, our readers just love to hear how we ate sushi with them and went to the studio and someone thought they saw Bono crossing the street. That’s news, my friend! Let us tell you a trade secret: There ain’t no art there in the first place, so why ask about it? Besides, we make drugs and drinking and promiscuity keep up the image of sex and drugs and rock and roll. You say that was always just a cheap slogan and never had meaning for the real music? That’s why you are writing for an online newsletter and not Entertainment Weekly or Rolling Stone. It wasn’t us who made rock fall, no you can’t blame us at all.

Who killed rock and roll?

Not us, say the music stars, even Elvis didn’t really play guitar. Sure you think that David Bowie’s music predicted the emotionally dead, empty-thought, technological charred ruin of an ISIS Internet state, and that Led Zeppelin’s journey through Kashmir is as mystical as a real life Aladdin carpet ride, and that The Beatles grew in leaps and bounds as composers the likes of which we haven’t seen since Wolfgang Amadeus. Be happy you had that and don’t blame us for not measuring up to those standards! It’s a job, for crying out loud. It’s community, the swaying sing along at the end of the show proving we are all one, we are together, we all love, until we get to our cars to go home—and if that guy doesn’t get the hell out of my way…Didn’t Elmo sing “Every day can’t be Christmas”? Well, every concert can’t be Woodstock. And you try to write a hit, my man, there are only so many notes on a guitar and a piano, they’ve all been taken, my friend. A wise man once said that there are only three or four plot lines in literature. Well, we’re just repeating the same old guitar and piano lines, but look at the polish of it! Our producers have more power in their consoles than the rockets that went to the moon! If you’re looking for art, try twisting a volume control these days—not so easy! And this constant criticism of our parties and of stars gazing at stars—seems a bit like sour grapes, Mister Home Recording hermit. It isn’t us who makes rock fall, you can’t blame us at all.

Who killed rock and roll?

Not us says Dylan, Springsteen, the Stones, Paul, Ringo and Led Zeppelin, we’ve kept our integrity. And this is something of which I completely agree.

Who killed rock and roll? Why and what’s the reason for?
Laid low in a cloud of mist
“It was destiny, it was God’s will.”

 

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