In the words of Lester Bangs/Philip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous “Jim Morrison is a drunken buffoon, posing as a poet. Give me The Guess Who. They’ve got the courage to be drunken buffoons, which makes them poetic”. Reading back on old Rolling Stone articles on Kurt Cobain and the Forever 27 gang, or Hunter S Thompson, I am initially shocked at the open recklessness of these dudes (my parents raised me well in my Midwestern sheltered town) but then I realized that this IS part of rock ‘n roll. These crazy acts of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll were at the forefront of the revolution. Rock is more than just a sound, its an existence. An existence that continually pushes the envelop, at the forefront of insanity. because that’s what rock does to you. it pushes you, adrenalin-pumping pushes.
But why did it take reading about pre-millennium artists for me to see this? Because post-millennium rock isn’t rock at all. Its Clear Channel propaganda. We should have seen it when the Backstreet Boys 2000 album was named “Millennium”. This is the album to look to when trying to uncover the culture of Y2K?? Popular music today, the stuff on the radio, is sound that so many people I know work furiously to make known they DO NOT listen to it. That they have no part in promoting that sound. Is that how bigger-than-life bands should be seen?? I’m no hypocrite. I am the first one to deny listening to Akon, Avril Lavigne, Fergie, new age Green Day. I will always claim loyalty to 1960s and 70s bands over today’s tween-friendly sounds. A generation should not finger-point who’s to blame for music of their time, but be proud of the sound their peers can produce. But that’s not so much the case when corporations are pulling the puppet strings of artists that see $$ before music notes.
Enter my chicks. I assumed for months that Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Neko Case, Jenny Lewis were all just ladies that I listened to in the semi-underground indie rock circuit. As soon as I heard Lily on the radio, I was (as usual) totally disappointed in her selling out to the man. That her sound would become like everyone elses and she would fade into the place up above where artists-that-all-sound-the-same float away to. Then Amy followed when Rehab hit the airwaves. I was depressed. But as both these ladies blow up (Amy on the cover of Rolling Stone last month sealed her fate in history) I noticed that neither were cleaning up their act, changing their sound or their attitude. Lily continued her drunken foolery as she performed a concert for some NYC socialites and kept called the queen bee of rich society the wrong name . Amy continues her crazy (and usually drunken) obsession with her husband (“I’m not in this to be a [bleep] role model.”). Pink has the right idea with these fellow songbirds. Neither are afraid to be wasted in public. Isn’t that what everyone dreams of? Being a rock star so awesome that you can have 5 shots of Jim Bean and sing about refusing to go to rehab? These ladies are living the dream.
Long live rock ‘n roll!