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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Rock Died Years Ago. Can We Please Bury it?

“That’s because he (Johann Sebastian Bach - 1685-1750) is arguably the most important figure in not just classical but all music: his influence is as keenly felt in music today as it ever was.”

Year of WonderClemency Burton-hill


As if The Beatles haven’t been praised enough over the course of the past 55 years or so, there is a nice little movie called Yesterday which heaps on a bit more tribute to this rock band. In one scene, the protagonist claims that the film’s eponymous song is one of the greatest songs ever written. Wow, really? I guess he’s never listened to Bach, or Mozart, or Beethoven, or dozens of other composers if he can rate a simple little rock ballad among the greatest songs ever written.

Am I the only person who thinks that rock & roll has been around way too long? For me, rock started repeating itself by the end of the 1980s.

What I resent about rock is that it has produced so few remarkable musicians. There isn’t a single piano virtuoso to come out of the genre, no great saxophonists, violinists, or any other instruments besides the guitar and drums. Rock had already endured far longer than the heyday of jazz which only dominated the music world for perhaps 40 years, beginning its sharp decline when rock ascended.

And just forget about rap music. They don’t play instruments, and they don’t really sing. It should have been a brief side-note in music yet has been with us for 30 years or more. Sorry rappers, rhyming just isn’t that much of a skill, and your puerile doggerel hardly ranks as poetry.

Jazz produced legions of great musicians on a number of instruments. In the age of jazz, talent mattered more than anything. There were no poseurs or lip-synchers in jazz. If you couldn’t play, you weren’t going to spend much time on the stage. 

To take the center stage in the rock era, all you need are a few simple chords and anything resembling human speech. Singing is optional, as we have heard in rap music. Most of popular music today is more about image than what you can hear. Why should it matter what someone looks like in music?

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