Steve Lillywhite said Brian May is overlooked as a guitar great, that Clapton and Beck had impeccable technique, but May had an incredible sound!
I may be too old for this. Despite all the hype that fifty is the new forty and sixty is the new fifty, if not forty five, despite all the press about Botox and facelifts, the dirty little secret is we were not made to last forever. And as you age, physical problems arise. If you’re a baby boomer and you don’t have aches and pains, you’re lying.
Once upon a time we were young. We felt we would live forever.
But this is untrue.
Just like our parents lionized the big bands, and Frank Sinatra, we were enamored of the Beatles and the Stones and even U2 and all of those acts are so long in the tooth that the younger generation really doesn’t care. Lillywhite was incredibly dynamic on stage, telling inside stories of producing some of the best bands in history, and the audience sat there…like zombies.
It’s 2013. “I Will Follow” is more than thirty years old. Edge may wear hats, but we know he’s bald. And the odds of U2 having another hit are nonexistent. Because Top Forty radio doesn’t play the kind of music they make. And if they contemporize their sound, add beats, it will just be creepy.
Rock and roll drove our world. It was the most important thing in our lives.
It’s not the most important thing in a young person’s life. It can matter, but it’s turned into entertainment, a way of making money, it doesn’t change the world, it’s a follower medium. Lillywhite referenced being blown away by Beatle songs, because each and every one of them sounded different. Today we live in a land of imitation. Admit it, when was the last time a record blew your mind?
Probably in the heyday of the rap era. Yes, those in attendance would be more interested in hearing from Dr. Dre, one of the rap producers, than Lillywhite. Because rock is dead.
It didn’t used to be.
Tonight I went to an awards show. And TPOH played.
TPOH, you remember, The Pursuit Of Happiness!
And “I’m An Adult Now” was not their first song this evening. But only moments after Moe Berg stepped to the mic, it was clear, this is a star.
A star is not born, he’s not prepackaged and made, a star is developed. Over years. You learn to present your material and win over the audience. And to do it right, to ring the bell, you need to have a hit record, and “I’m An Adult Now” was.
I can’t even look at young girls anymore
People will think I’m some kind of pervert
Adult sex is either boring or dirty
Young people can get away with murder
“Pervert.” Bring that to your record company today and they’ll say to remove it, because radio won’t play it. There’s a disconnect between the filter and the audience. You can’t talk about drugs and friends with benefits in country music, even though those are core elements of the audience that’s listening. Phoniness and self-righteousness rule. Used to be music cut through that, not anymore. People just want to know where and how to sell out.
Speaking of hearing, I can’t take too much loud music
I mean I like to play it, but I sure don’t like the racket
Noise, but I can’t hear anything
Just guitars screaming, screaming, screaming
Some guy is screaming in a leather jacket
That’s how I feel. Its not the amplification that bothers me, but the fact that everything’s an affectation. You’re wearing a leather jacket… Didn’t Elvis do that fifty years ago? You think you’re rebelling, but you’re conforming. Remember David Byrne, not the irrelevant pontificator of today, but the rock star of yore? Did you see anybody else in a big suit before Byrne? Did you hear anybody yelp just like him? When you listened to Al Green’s “Take Me To The River,” could you imagine the Talking Heads’ take?
OF COURSE NOT!
Our business has become one of self-congratulation while in the background everybody’s fighting for scraps. It mirrors America at large. Where the winners take all and the losers have no idea what hit them. And just like bankers, the music business creates nothing. Come on, where’s the great catalog of the last twenty years.
It’s been a long day. I wasn’t in such a melancholy mood earlier. I hosted a crowdfunding panel where Benji Rogers from PledgeMusic was so passionate, I truly got excited.
Passion. That’s what it’s about.
That’s cold. And hard to relate to. Math is imperfect. But art is messy.
So if you’re looking for the answer, I can’t provide one.
All I know is I’m looking to be blown away. Like with Brian May.
Have you ever heard “Keep Yourself Alive”? From the initial Queen LP?
Yup, it was a vinyl album. There were no cassettes. It probably didn’t even come out on 8-track, there was little demand. But when you dropped the needle on “Keep Yourself Alive,” you encountered a band that was gonna grab you by the throat, lift you off the floor, and not let you go until you admitted they were the best thing you ever heard.
And maybe at that point they weren’t.
But on the fourth album, they were. Sure, “A Night At The Opera” had “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but it also had the almost California sounding “You’re My Best Friend,” and the positively screeching “I’m In Love With My Car.”
And what did Queen do next?
Hell, after writing the sports anthems of the century, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions,” they came up with the acoustic, almost rockabilly “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and the thumping, bass-heavy “Another One Bites The Dust.”
You bought your Queen albums not to get more of what came before, but to be wowed by something you’d never heard before.
That’s what we’re looking for.
And if anybody tells you otherwise, they’re lying.