• May 25, 2016 at 4:59 pm #48152
    stonehearted
    Participant

    With the relevance of rock music culture having long run its course, American author and essayist Chuck Klosterman peers into the distant future to determine what, if any, images the music and culture of rock and roll may conjure up….

    “The symbolic value of rock is conflict-based: It emerged as a byproduct of the post-World War II invention of the teenager, soundtracking a 25-year period when the gap between generations was utterly real and uncommonly vast. That dissonance gave rock music a distinctive, nonmusical importance for a long time. But that period is over. Rock — or at least the anthemic, metaphoric, Hard Rock Cafe version of big rock — has become more socially accessible but less socially essential, synchronously shackled by its own formal limitations. Its cultural recession is intertwined with its cultural absorption. As a result, what we’re left with is a youth-oriented music genre that a) isn’t symbolically important; b) lacks creative potential; and c) has no specific tie to young people. It has completed its historical trajectory. Which means, eventually, it will exist primarily as an academic pursuit. It will exist as something people have to be taught to feel and understand.

    I imagine a college classroom in 300 years, in which a hip instructor is leading a tutorial filled with students. These students relate to rock music with no more fluency than they do the music of Mesopotamia: It’s a style they’ve learned to recognize, but just barely (and only because they’ve taken this specific class). Nobody in the room can name more than two rock songs, except the professor. He explains the sonic structure of rock, its origins, the way it served as cultural currency and how it shaped and defined three generations of a global superpower. He shows the class a photo, or perhaps a hologram, of an artist who has been intentionally selected to epitomize the entire concept. For these future students, that singular image defines what rock was.

    So what’s the image?”
    —Chuck Klosterman, May 23, 2016, The New York Times Magazine

    Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/magazine/which-rock-star-will-historians-of-the-future-remember.html

    Then again, The Doors already recorded something to that effect — in 1969, with their Rock Is Dead jam, an outtake from the Soft Parade album sessions.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UWMQoIOryw

    May 25, 2016 at 6:05 pm #48157
    LongBeachArena72
    Participant

    Good read—thanks for the link, SH.

    For me, ultimately, this was hogwash, though. The idea that there will be one iconic figure who typifies rock music for future generations is belied by everything we know about how we experience music from the past. Is there one composer from the Baroque period, one from the Classical era, just one from the Modernist or Neo-Classical or Atonal schools? One jazzman, one bluesman, one country and western star? No, there are many, and their reputations have risen and fallen over the years as trends change and as new scholarship emerges to shed light on previously ignored musicians.

    It seems to me that what is unique about the modern, or rock, era, is the availability of not only audio recordings but also visual recordings. The effect of these materials on future generations cannot be overestimated. J.S. Bach, perhaps the greatest composer of any kind of music the human race has produced, during his lifetime was not even regarded as the greatest composer in his own country. He was, however, thought to be the greatest musician (organist) of his time … and yet we have no record of this at all. No idea what Bach at the keyboard sounded like. No idea what his Cantatas sounded like or what the St. Matthew Passion sounded like during its debut performance. But future generations will know what The Beatles sounded and looked like and will be able to begin to grasp the hysteria they induced. Imagine if all we had to evaluate The Beatles value was sheet music and cover versions of their songs by musicians who were no longer even alive during the time The Beatles were active?

    It’s impossible to know how the reputations of individual artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, etc., will fare over time. Cultural trends make certain sounds and certain types of personalities more attractive during one age than during the next … and so “reputation” tends to be a fluid concept.

     

    May 25, 2016 at 6:56 pm #48158
    stonehearted
    Participant

    Is there one composer from the Baroque period, one from the Classical era 

    Well, most people could name at least one of the Bachs, but might not know from which era they come from, same with Vivaldi. On the classical note, nearly everyone can name Mozart, but not nearly as many could name Haydn. Even more telling is how everything symphonic, Beethoven included, gets boxed under the term “classical” music — and though Beethoven started out in the classical era and in the style of classical composition, he certainly didn’t stay that way.

     

    On the subject of popular music: Pretty much anyone on this board can name at least a few popular songs from 1964 — but, without Googling, could you name anything from 1914? How about 1864?

     

    Pop culture consciousness of today has indeed agreed to take its memory of The Beatles down that long and winding road into the 21st century, largely because from a musical/cultural/entertainment standpoint they best epitomize the era of the 1960s as present day culture prefers to remember it. But do younger people of today know the name and work of Henry Mancini, who was dominating Grammy Awards in the very same mid-sixties when The Beatles were dominating the record charts?

     

    It might even surprise you to know that there are people in their early twenties today to whom the name Paul Simon means nothing (more about that later when I post my “shopping with Paul Simon” story in your “New Paul Simon single” thread).

     

    May 25, 2016 at 9:20 pm #48159
    LongBeachArena72
    Participant
    It might even surprise you to know that there are people in their early twenties today to whom the name Paul Simon means nothing
    On the contrary, it would shock me if many millennials had ever even heard of Paul Simon. Were only a half-decade or so away from almost no one under 30 having any idea who Mick Jagger is.
    May 26, 2016 at 2:41 am #48161
    stonehearted
    Participant

    On the contrary, it would shock me if many millennials had ever even heard of Paul Simon. Were only a half-decade or so away from almost no one under 30 having any idea who Mick Jagger is.

    I’m remembering a quote of yours, from one of the many 2016 RIP threads, where you said that “2016 can blow me”. I feel the same sentiment for all the years to come, for those who have not lived rock and roll, and for those who will never have understood what that means. It’s a bit like what Jack Klugman said about Tony Randall’s passing, that such a world was not one that he could understand. And I would add to that, let alone be a part of.

     

    May 26, 2016 at 7:59 am #48165
    Doxa
    Participant

    On the contrary, it would shock me if many millennials had ever even heard of Paul Simon. Were only a half-decade or so away from almost no one under 30 having any idea who Mick Jagger is.

    I’m remembering a quote of yours, from one of the many 2016 RIP threads, where you said that “2016 can blow me”. I feel the same sentiment for all the years to come, for those who have not lived rock and roll, and for those who will never have understood what that means. It’s a bit like what Jack Klugman said about Tony Randall’s passing, that such a world was not one that he could understand. And I would add to that, let alone be a part of.

     

    I guess the point of rock’n’roll is that it is not ‘just’ music, but there is more on it. Not even just a mainstream thing of gathering quite a huge amount of generation’s members, starting around the fifties and ending in a large scale somewhere around the 1980’s/90’s, but a certain way to look at life, even a way to change the world, at least one’s own. Or something pretty contextual like that, going beyond the world of notes and lyrics. I just re-read Booth’s True Adventures, and inspired by that re-watched Gimme Shelter again, and ‘far out, man’…  Probably that kind of experience of rock’n’roll meaning something – whatever it is beyond music – is something one needs to have a first-hand experience, to live in a world/society like that, which starts to be impossible for today’s generations (be it good or not). I guess even for most of us members of rock and roll generations, the meaning of rock’n’roll – if we don’t get too nostalgic – is ‘reduced’ to the status of ‘just music, and actually nothing else’. Or even ‘just entertainment and nothing else’. Going to a Rolling Stones show starts to be a paradigm case of that.

     

    Analogically, I have sometimes played with the idea of what ‘blues’ is to me, and if I’d be honest, all I can say is that it is ‘just music and nothing else’, music I happen to like very much. Probably I have “lived rock’n’roll”, by belonging to a punk generation, but I could never say I have “lived blues”. Nor I don’t think even Keith Richards can say that. So I guess ‘digging the blues’ is a pretty theoretical discourse to me.  What really was ‘living the blues’ is something I can read from the books, listen to old bluesmen or the people who actually were there speaking, but the only access to the world and life of Mississippi and Chicago, and the black man/woman experience there, is just up to my imagination. What the actual function and significance of that music was back again, what does it mean for people, when you get Robert Johnson or Son House coming to your local joint at Saturday night, have a bootleg whiskey, dance, get into a fight, not to mention, of course, what generally was it like belonging to a American black community back then, including all the history and suffering, the cotton fields,  etc. etc. I guess having an authentic experience of a ‘real’ blues culture has faded away decades ago (and I am sure for many folks involved, fortunately). What there is left of it is ‘just’ the wonderful music. And a ‘theoretical’ interest by folks like me.

     

    So what I try to say? I don’t know. Probably some people today – and in future – might view rock’n’roll the way I view blues now, without having any kind of direct relationship to the living and breathing culture, to the first-hand experience. In regards to rock, there is an incredible amount of material – records, books, films – to do that….  (there is so much of that that I guess in a following decades, the actual value of that stuff will just go dramatically down – you folks have any idea what what will happen to your precious, say, Rolling Stones collections, when you are gone? How long we have people around who would actually appreciate that kind of stuff?)

     

    • Doxa
    May 26, 2016 at 10:09 am #48166
    Breath
    Participant

    rocknroll is mindless drivel that will at best be a footnote as future historians look back on it. some of these histories are already being written.

    May 26, 2016 at 12:59 pm #48167
    LongBeachArena72
    Participant

    Every generation has its heroes and villains, its obsessions, its preferences. I don’t think those of the rock’n’roll generation will necessarily be any longer lasting than those of other generations. There were, however, two things that made rock’n’roll unique: 1) the coming of age of the tidal wave of baby boomers, and 2) the apotheosis of the “teenager.”

    Rock’n’roll is, ultimately, as Breath says, mostly mindless drivel. It does not as a general rule encompass much of marvelous diversity and breadth (!) of what it means to be human. But it was fun and alive and it came along at a time when the sheer size of the boomer wave made youth culture paramount … and so its influence, during our lifetimes, was magnified beyond its intrinsic merits. Future historians, separated from these phenomena by decades, if not centuries, will take a more sober view of the actual artistic merit of this musical form.

    May 26, 2016 at 1:17 pm #48168
    Breath
    Participant

    yep. but historians will be very kind to the words that have been printed and preserved on EOMS.  there may even be Ken Burns-style history series on it.

    May 26, 2016 at 2:07 pm #48169
    Marianita
    Participant

    KEEP CALM CAUSE ROCK'N'ROLL WILL NEVER DIE

    Don't you think it's sometimes wise not to grow up?

    May 26, 2016 at 2:21 pm #48171
    Breath
    Participant

    I think marianita herself will get an entire episode of the EOMS.org documentary dedicated to her.

    May 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm #48183
    Doxa
    Participant

    Every generation has its heroes and villains, its obsessions, its preferences. I don’t think those of the rock’n’roll generation will necessarily be any longer lasting than those of other generations. There were, however, two things that made rock’n’roll unique: 1) the coming of age of the tidal wave of baby boomers, and 2) the apotheosis of the “teenager.” Rock’n’roll is, ultimately, as Breath says, mostly mindless drivel. It does not as a general rule encompass much of marvelous diversity and breadth (!) of what it means to be human. But it was fun and alive and it came along at a time when the sheer size of the boomer wave made youth culture paramount … and so its influence, during our lifetimes, was magnified beyond its intrinsic merits. Future historians, separated from these phenomena by decades, if not centuries, will take a more sober view of the actual artistic merit of this musical form.

    Yep, spot on points those two.  If we put them together, I think some source for the the vitality and significance of rock’n’roll is that there is or even needs to be a some kind of generation gap (or some other ‘us’ vs ‘them’ controversy) – the youngsters  against the elder generation and their non-rock music taste and values (especially during the 60’s) that envokes the rebellous, reactive, non-conventional, controversial nature of rock’n’roll, which I think is crucial for the significance of the whole enterprise. That it actually means something, even though – or even because – it is “mindless travel”. It is also kind of natural that by the 80’s the whole thing, due to that very factor, was running out of gas (I have the picture that I belong to the about last ‘real’ or ‘big’ rock’n’roll generation who was brought listening to rock music everywhere and “living that”, before it all went to total formalism and cliche (a’la heavy rock) or just marginal (‘alternative’ rock) or pure nostalgia, with no bigger impact on anything.

     

    But I think the funny feature of rock music as a form of popular music – that is, something the kids like and which dominates the charts, radio or other media in a given time — is that unlike other forms of pop music, the kids who loved rock music in their formative years didn’t stopped doing that that when they grew up. What, for example, Elvis or the Beatles or the Stones initially were doing as pop phenomenons and biggest acts of the day doesn’t actually differ what, say, Justin Bieber does today. The girls scream all the same. Still I don’t think the girls loving Bieber at the moment will follow the guy for the rest of their lives… Actually I find it personally funny that as far as music go I am still have the same heroes as I had when I was 12 or 13…  Call it progress, hah! (Of course, the whole genre of rock – and my heroes – developed, altered, etc. for a relatively long time, so it was rather easy – and justified – to continue following it/them).

     

    • Doxa

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