Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rock music as a drug, and more

  • Background to the Sixties that was an integral part but by no means all of '50s popular music: Did rock and roll pacify America? Music as soma. Good points. Reminds me of Donald Clarke in The Rise and Fall of Popular Music:
    Heavy metal is the ultimate in phoney rebellion, the logical and boring exaggeration of rock'n'roll as the music to make our parents angry, just as a logical and boring heat death of the Universe may be the ultimate result of the original Big Bang. Heavy metal combines blues-based rock with the portentous doom of progressive pop; it is the loudest music of all; it uses the imagery of vaguely Viking mythical heroes, like the trashy children's cartoon 'He-man': the artwork heroes ripple with muscles, while heavy metal's guitar heroes are usually skinny weeds. Or the HM bands promote images of devil worship, suicide and even Nazism, showing a paucity of any values at all. Yet heavy metal's largely working-class audience is curiously well behaved; the male fans at the concert-as-ritual are succoured by the phallic symbolism of the guitar hero, the females content to play their supportive roles, and all go back to work on Monday morning feeling as though they have rebelled. The cost of their cheap rebellion is that when they are older, they will find that their hearing has been damaged.
    Sidebar: as you gathered from Clarke's slightly condescending liberal tone, metal is actually conservative, built on human nature. Not boomer Beatle nonsense. Men are men, women are women, and as in all rock (originally black slang for sex), sex is celebrated ("the beat sounds like sex"), but no egalitarian nonsense; virtuosity is rewarded, very masculine. Anyway, I'm with Pat Buchanan on loving early rock, which was largely an offshoot of r&b/boogie-woogie (eight to the bar) mixed with honky-tonk country music. Good, timeless music like Chuck Berry and Little Richard plus fun innocuous stuff whose appeal is partly nostalgic: Freddy Cannon, for example. For me, this stuff tapers off to around the beginning of "the end of the world," in 1968. (My soundtrack starts around 1937: Benny Goodman, for example.) Of course I appreciate rock and pop classics during and after the change but recognize that somehow the top rock acts were an instrument of evil; yes, including the Beatles. The girls screamed for Sinatra and Presley too but those acts weren't subversive, just naughty (chicks love bad boys nobody owns). After the end of the the world, around 1973, I get more and more choosy about what I listen to and remember. Stopped consciously following new stuff in 1998. The only new acts that get my attention are in the tradition of the old America: local rockabilly or surf-rock bands such as the Black Flamingos or Internet novelty acts I learned of through car commercials: Pomplamoose, the Les Paul and Mary Ford of YouTube featuring a cute Nordic blonde, whose repertoire includes note-for-note covers of things like "Mr. Sandman."
  • On Park Avenue, a picture of the Catholic Church divided.
  • In praise of the Benjamin Button babes.
  • Being local vs. being rooted.

1 comment:

  1. Even though I grew up in the 1980's and early 1990's, for practical purposes it could have been the early 40's. My family was largely older (mostly folks of my grand and great grand parents age). I spent a good deal of time around these older folks so I grew up with classical, big band/swing, standards, and a bit of folk and ethnic. It "pop/Top 40" proofed me for life. For me early rock is tolerable, but not my thing. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" is as about as close to rock 'n roll as I go. The Beatles..... Meh! I'll pass. Have you ever heard of "The Puppini Sisters" or Reville 3". They are examples of a modern version of "The Andrews Sisters"? Quite good as well!


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