Firefly Pointer Fiberglass Jacket: Why I don't think rock and roll is dead (and don't agree with Gene)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why I don't think rock and roll is dead (and don't agree with Gene)

 Last night when I saw the latest trending article where Gene Simmons declares "Rock and roll is finally dead" I knew I had to open my mouth and say my piece. Because...I'm Becca Jones-Starr after all.

“The death of rock was not a natural death,” Simmons offers. “Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won’t, because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.”

 First of all, something undead cannot die. Think of rock and roll as a zombie. I see what he means and where he's coming from. YES it is a lot harder to make a living off playing music, YES its even harder to get heard or seen or exposed, YES it is even more difficult for true creativity to be expressed. I can be real and tell you it aint what it used to be. But truthfully and like everything else really music evolved. Rock and roll evolved into something new. There are still bands releasing rock music, there are still bands that are clear influences of the Doors, The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. Again, it aint what it used to be...but how could it? 

 With technology changing it changed the industry. It changed who could make music, it changed who could release music. Of course there is going to be the occasional smart ass who doesn't know who the Beatles are, but they're influence will be remembered forever. When people say rock and roll is dead, I just don't get it. I see evidence everywhere that it is live and well. Just because it isn't “popular” (and by what standards?) and 'all the kids at school aren't listening to it'...that doesn't mean anything. Rock is roll is about liking what you like, and being who you are...even if it means sticking out and not going with everyone else. 

“Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain. Once you had a record company on your side, they would fund you, and that also meant when you toured they would give you tour support.” He adds, “There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent. But for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it’s finally dead. Rock is finally dead.”

 I like the rebuttle "Rock and roll isn't dead, it's just dead to you." True, don't quit your day job but never stop following your passion. Shit in this economy it doesn't matter what you do on the side...keep your day job. The mountain might be higher to climb and harder than ever, but it is not impossible. Working with bands and musicians, I see people make things happen and take flight. I'd like to remind everyone that I'm widely considered (and would consider myself) a pessimist. If a person like me still thinks there is hope, if a person like me still thinks there's a way....that says something. Rock and roll has been proclaimed to be dead many times since it's birth. 

“It’s very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don’t have a chance.” Simmons remarks. “If you play guitar, it’s almost impossible. You’re better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for ‘The X Factor.’ And I’m not slamming ‘The X Factor,’ or pop singers. But where’s the next Bob Dylan? Where’s the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators?” 
Simmons added that he is not being simply being cantankerous offering, “I’m not the guy to be pouting and complaining about stuff. I make a decent living. I’m very, very lucky. But that’s because we started before the chaos, in the days when people had to buy records. If you didn’t like a band, you didn’t buy their albums, and the people decided.”
 Sorry not sorry but "You're better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs" doesn't translate to me.  I thought the bulk of us wrote songs because we wanted to and learned to play the guitar because it was calling at us. To me music is a yearning, and people can tell who has heart and who is full of shit. I know lots of musicians and NONE of them got into it for the "money and fame" they did it because they loved music and they need to make music. In fact it's a well know idea that most artists struggle hence the saying "starving artist". It has really never been easy to be an artist and an artist is many different things. There has never been a formula or a magic spell, music moguls have been trying to figure that out since the beginning of radio. "Where's the next Bob Dylan, Beatles?" there wont be any, because those guys were pioneers at the right place and time. We're never going to see another Beatles. But what we have seen is generations influenced by them whether they realize it or not. 

 The people still decide, but my main contempt with music these days is that it is so saturated. Music has never been easier to find, make and distribute than ever. That has changed the music industry and many other things. I'm talking about you, Internet. As much as I'd like to see another 60's, it's not gonna happen. I'm an admitted pessimist, and I do not think rock and roll is dead because people still listen to the music. Bands are still making rock music and more importantly music that is inspired by the pioneers of rock. I meet or hear from kids and young teens all the time about how affected they are by rock n roll music. I meet what I call "Little Becca's" all the time, kids that impress me with their knowledge of bands and music history. 

 That's what has made me so impressed and has given me faith in my last 11 years of running Bite-the-dust.com. You're talking to someone who in 2014 is up to her ears in rock. I live in a music-centric. Though the internet has posed many challenges to the way music is made and distributed, it has made it a lot easier to find music. Kids and teens are able to reach rock and roll easier than ever before. I think what Gene thinks of rock and roll is dead, but I see rock and roll very differently. 

Want me to literally list all the modern bands that have something special and have clear ties to rock and roll?
The Black Keys
Interpol
The Heavy
The Black Angels
The Dandy Warhols
Of Montreal
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Arctic Monkeys
The Black Crowes

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