Friday, December 14, 2007

The End of Rock and Roll

Madonna is now an inductee to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sigh.

I suppose I could rail on and on about how utterly oxymoronic it is to have the words "Madonna" and "Rock and Roll" in any sentence together that doesn't also include the word "not."

I could berate that idiotic institution for defaming the good name of Rock and Roll (as if it had one).

I could cajole the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by suggesting it change its name to something more appropriate, like The Hall of Fame for People Who've Made Our Board of Directors a Lot of Money, or maybe The People Who Were Popular While We Were Still Paying Attention Hall of Fame.

There are plenty of things I could do like that. But why bother?

Neither Madonna nor The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are important or interesting enough to expend the effort.

But Rock and Roll itself is important and interesting to me, and I see dire signs for it, of which this nonsense is a tiny symptom.

People have been declaring Rock and Roll dead since it was born. There's a great scene in Almost Famous where legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) tells Patrick Fugit's character, "It's too bad you missed Rock and Roll."

The year is 1973.

So I know it's always spurious to do this sort of thing, and I hope there's a Ramones or Nirvana right around the corner who will give the music a much-needed kick in the buttocks.

And (qualify, John, qualify) if you've followed this blog, you've seen me praise some tremendous Rock and Roll music from this very year recently. I'm not saying all the good's gone.

But Rock and Roll as a popular force in our popular culture is coughing up blood. And it's a pattern I've seen before.

When I was a kid back in the Dawn of Man, the older types would perpetually beat us young 'uns over the head with Jazz. "Oh, you kids don't know GOOD music," they would intone stentorially. "Jazz, now that's GOOD music." And then they'd hop on their dinosaurs and ride off to watch the earth's crust cool.

And I grew up despising Jazz. I didn't actually know anything about it, nor had I actually heard much of it. But it didn't matter: If those morons liked it, it had to reek.

Over time, I came to appreciate the talents of John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck and many others. But it took years to shed that prejudice.

I see the same thing happening now with Rock and Roll. Dopey adults like myself castigating Hip Hop kids, telling them what they listen to is just noise. "Now Rock and Roll," we say, "That's GOOD music."

Nothing ever changes.

If I was a kid today and some analog adult told me that, I would go out of my way to loathe whatever that doofus championed.

And that will marginalize Rock and Roll to a few of us lame aficionados, huddled together in our irrelevance. Just like Jazz fans.

And it will do it much faster than Madonna or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, despite their best efforts.

Well, enough blogging. Time to go listen to some GOOD music.

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