Tuesday, October 08, 2002

In their blogs, John Y. and Marian discuss the course of rock and roll through generations. They both yearn for music that transends the test of time. I have to say that for the most part, I agree with them in that it has been a while since I heard something with substance. It used to be that musicians used their pens and their instruments to shock and disrupt conventional norms. Nowadays, it's all about image. I was watching VH1 the other day, and there was some show on about the top ten most shocking moments in music history. So I settle in, forming my own top ten list in my head. The top four have to be:

1) Elvis on Ed Sullivan, where they could not shoot him from the waist and down, because his choreography was deemed obscene.
2) John Lennon proclaiming that young people of that day found the Beatles more appealing than Jesus Christ.
3) One for our generation: Eminem and Elton John performing "Stan" together at the Grammy's.
4) Ed Sullivan again, this time when Jim Morrison refused to change the lyrics to Light My Fire, and sang the phrase "Girl, we couldn't get much higher."
Of course there was also The Rolling Stones at Altamont, as well as Alanis Morrisette having to be bleeped as she said the F-word during the MTV VMA when she performed "You Oughta Know."
And the whole Milli Vanilli scandal, in which artistry was sacrificed for image. As well as a gazillion other things that artists have done to push the envelope artisitically. I was ready to be entertained.

I was so wrong.

According to VH1 and Behind The Music, the top four shocking moments in history are, not about the songs or the message, but about the extracirrucular activities of the rock stars.
1) Leif Garrett talks to the guy he paralyzed in a car accident during a DUI in the 1970s.
2) Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes burns down her boyfriend's mansion after a huge fight and after she sees he didn't buy her a pair of sneakers. The fire was started when Lopes put his newly purchased sneakers in the bathtub and lit them on fire.
3) Ozzy Osbourne bits the head off of a dove in a press conference with a record company.
4) A chicken is ripped apart by a crowd of Alice Cooper fans during a concert in which Cooper, unaware that the bird's wings were clipped and was unable to fly, threw the chicken back to the crowd after a fan threw it onstage.

F*cking Leif Garrett? Rock history? Whaaaaa?

I think in music now, the focus has changed. It's all about image. It's no longer about the music anymore. Many artists used to refer to this as "selling out." However, now adays, it's called "Selling records." Now people focus on what a rock star looks like or does rather than what they sing about, or what their music means. But instead of bitching, I figure I would talk a bit about the artists I admire, and I think that most people would agree that, in the grand scheme of things, they are truly great musicians and their music will stand the test of time.

1) The Beatles. C'mon. God did a special dance around the cribs of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. The songwriting talent alone was unbelievable. They should be regarded as the gold standard for songwriting now and always.
2) Twisted Sister. Just listen to "We're Not Gonna Take It" when you've had a bad day. Classic.
3) The Rolling Stones. Just the fact that they are still out there, selling out shows is why I admire them. They have a magic formula that has not run out of power since the 1960s. Sure, Keith Richards looks rough, but if you make fun of him, I guarantee he'll kick your bitch ass to the curb.
4) Eminem. Okay, not a huge fan. He's profane, he's been accused of being misogynistic and homophobic. But critics of The Marshall Mathers LP proclaim it to be innovative and challenging the norms of society through artistry. It was a brilliant move to perform with Elton John at the Grammys. It leads me to hypothesize that an Eminem song is like a one-act play in which he himself is the star, playing a character, painting a picture that may or may not be the true feelings of the artist. He makes people listen to his music. He just doesn't throw crap at us. That to me is admirable.
5) James Brown. He was Black and Proud at a time when it was almost dangerous to be both.
6) The Mamas and The Papas. Okay, Mama Cass wasn't a Miss America stick insect, but the girl could sing the hell out of anything. Good songwriting too on the part of John Phillips.
7) Bruce Springsteen. A favorite of the Better Half, it makes me happy seeing him succeed. Hard work + talent = success. He's hard work personified.
8) Bikini Kill- Girl Power before the Spice Girls. Thankfully, Girl Power after the Spice Girls fizzled. Still going strong.
Okay kids, it's late, and Aunt Jenn needs to go and sleep and get up tomorrow and go to chemo class. In the meantime, she will listen to her old fart music, knit an afghan and be very happy.
Good night.

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