I should be typing up part two of "Things To Do When You're Broke," but I happened to find a little piece that I wrote a several months ago and turns out that I don't completely despise the thoughts I wrote at the time. Go figure! There are lots of thoughts within parentheses and run on sentences because that is how my brain works. I hope you enjoy!
Reconsidering Rock and Roll.
It's time to face the facts: rock and roll is dead. Okay, let me rephrase that because the whole situation that is rock and roll is too sticky and complicated to claim it to be either living or dead. I'll put it this way, if you believe that rock and roll is a single organism lurching on in search of an ideal that is somewhere out there, but certainly not here, then yes, rock and roll is most assuredly a dead animal rotting and being picked at by younger and more resilient cultural species (gosh I love metaphors.) This may seem harsh, but we're talking about survival of the fittest put into action. This is just one man's opinion person I fabricated in my mind, but I think this is the wrong way to look at things.
The right way to look at the situation (i.e- my way of looking at this situation) is that rock and roll is not a single organism, but a species. Within this species there are, like any domesticated species, many breeds. I anticipate this idea being a problem. The crux of the problem is that people who believe in the notion or feeling of rock and roll probably don't like to think of it as domesticated, but reality is reality. If I asked any of my friends who are or were in a rock and roll band if they liked Nickleback they would most likely laugh in my face. Yet Nickleback is a rock and roll band and, despite the moans of anyone actively interested mentally or emotionally in rock and roll, is winner of best in show. How could the most popular breed of a now universal species not be a reflection of the entire society it is immersed in? Do not get me wrong here, this is not an attempt to make you start liking Nickleback (to be fair though, if someone wrote a critical analysis about how Nickleback is actually great I probably couldn't help myself from reading it.) What I am saying is, like dog breeders, each active listener has a preference for certain breeds and a disdain for others. People who love big dogs, people who love small dogs, when it comes down to it they are both still dog lovers.
So my revolutionary idea is this: Let's stop thinking of rock and roll as something natural or instinctive. Let's look at rock and roll as something unnatural in the best way possible. Let's look at rock and roll as a checkpoint, something you must strive to understand through critical thinking. This will make rock and roll culture, instead of a resistance to an already established culture (which in reality is actually transgression, and if you want stay on that boat you should probably become an author so you don't get made fun of.) Anything that lives as long as rock and roll must deal with constrictions and responsibility. This is part of growing up. Ideas, like people will always be forced to develop or wallow into uselessness. It is evolution (I think it might be the proper use of the word "meme" too.) Culture is one of our defense mechanisms to fight against natural evolution. Our claws or coats of fur are imagination, memory, and critical thinking.
I don't want to take all the passion, emotion, and, you know, wildness out of rock and roll, though. Culture is not always stuffy and boring. I consider myself a visual artist and I have been exquisitely inspired by simple paint on canvas in a way that many could not possibly understand. I can't ever truly express in words the absolutely sublime feeling I felt deep down when I first saw a Van Gogh painting in person. The only words that I could think of at the the time as my heart sunk into my chest was "Oh, I get it!" In this same way, words cannot explain the elation, the melancholy, the catharsis you feel when hearing the rock and roll song that defined you at that very important moment of your past you-ness. It is too special to completely describe in words. So let us now look at rock and roll as art. Art seeks to enlighten the thinking individual instead of the total masses. Everything becomes obsolete to the masses eventually. Painting gave way to photography, which gave way to motion pictures, which, as of writing this, is giving way to video games. Let's do that with music now. Classical music at some point gave way to jazz and blues, this gave way to rock and roll, which is currently giving way to what? Electronic music? Techno? Dubstep? Something like that. Guess what, though? It turns out that painting, photography, and motion pictures still exist. In the same way, classical music, jazz, blues, and rock and roll (as you know you rock and roll addicts) still exists. I know I am stating that obvious here, but I think its important to state the obvious, occasionally, so we can stand back and realize that it really is the obvious.
The thing that has changed is the viewer or listener must now put forth some effort in finding it instead of it simply being forced upon them. Again, art instead of popular culture. As an artist, I cannot see this as a tragedy. It is a justification of its own existence, cultural defense. Just like Jazz in the 1960's, rock and roll ceases to be a way to just get laid and paid. Thank god! If that is the only reason you get into rock and roll, then I will take the low road and accuse you of bad taste. The reason for that is that you will get laid, anyways and if money is so important to you than your passion isn't rock and roll, its money. Rock and roll has returned to its roots as an outsider and that is where it thrives creatively at its best. This time around, though, it is also a topic worthy of a Ken Burns documentary (Do it Ken Burns! You know it's inevitable!) If you think it would be lame to be one of those bearded eggheads in a corduroy suit talking about the validity of the music (or art in general) they love, than I hope you enjoy being another boring and pointless old person because that's what you will be (Sorry, that was a little catty there at the end.)