So You Used to Shake Em Down but Now You Stop and Think About Your Dignity: "Rock and Roll Never Forgets"
Those who know me these days know that I spend a fair amount of time listening to various flavors of Comcast Music Choice, also known as those weird 400-level channels just after the Mexican wrestling and just before pay-per-view porn.
The depth and variety of the channels available (everything from Top 40 to Broadway show tunes to ambient electronica to Latin romantic pop) has expanded my musical landscape substantially. (Not to mention the Did U Know section of the screen, which adds facts like "Gilberto Santo Rosa is known as the Gentleman of Salsa" and "Bjorn Again is an Australian ABBA cover band" to my ever-growing collection of completely useless knowledge!)
One of the most interesting experiences on this Music Choice journey has been listening the 70s channel. But perhaps not interesting in the way you might expect.
Having raised myself on oldies radio and other music of the 1960s and 1970s, naturally I adore those tunes. But what I had never really realized is that the simple fact that I WAS hearing those tunes as a child in the 1990s meant that they had already passed the test of time and been proven as lasting classics. But what I am realizing now, both through listening to the 1970s channel and through listening to Top 40 radio of the current day, is that most songs released in any given year are NOT lasting classics. In fact most songs released in any given year are kind of crap. The reason why the music of the past sounds better to so many of us (and by us I mean "YouTube commenters") is that it's been filtered out of the crap to stand on its own.
Perhaps this is a self-evident conclusion, but it was news to me. When I realized that I wasn't just continually catching the 70s channel on a bad day, but that there really WERE that many white-bread awful songs about kissing girls named Brenda in the rain, it did two things for me:
- Cured me of the vestiges of the 1970s fetish I developed in college. While I still want to spend the rest of my life dancing to the Bee Gees under a shower of glitter confetti and/or lounging around under a tree reading Salinger and wearing corduroy, I now realize that I can do those things even though it's not 1976 anymore! Whoa, man. In fact, even better, I can do BOTH those things and many more things because we are fortunate enough to live in an era of great musical and cultural diversity.
- Made me really excited to hear what songs and artists of my own era will filter out as lasting classics. I have my suspicions but I'm interested to hear what happens. Guess it's just my incentive to continue investing in the sometimes soul-harrrowing pursuit of loving popular music.
In any case, this song came on last night as I was listening to the 70s channel and it struck me as very refreshing in its earnest rock-iness.
In college I had an ongoing argument with a good friend about this song, which was mostly based on my irrational anger at the following two lines:
"So you're a little bit older and a lot less bolder than you used to be" (20-year-old Amy: "A LOT LESS BOLDER??")
"Check your local newspaper, chances are you won't have to go too far" (20-year-old Amy just thought that was inane and not in the endearing way either.)
Both of these arguments my friend pretty effectively shut down by saying (words to the effect of), "20-year-old Amy, how is it that you rail on this song for those ultimately harmless lyrics but you put up with lines like 'I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar'?"
He was right. And he was also right that this song is charming. That's the power of music: it's just waiting for you to remember.
The song: Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, "Rock and Roll Never Forgets"; 1976