Thanks to Listening Room contributor Jared Zeide for the thought-provoking commentary!
I have always contended that as a child of the 90’s I am incredibly lucky to have seen so many of the innovators and creators of rock and roll perform. If you accept the theory, as I have, that music will never be quite as good as it was through the 60’s and 70’s, you have to accept the theory that being witness to any of the bands from this period is a very special privilege. Our children and grandchildren will not be so lucky (except maybe with Keith Richards, who is perhaps immortal).
Rock and roll itself is younger than my father, yet those who started the musical revolution of the mid-20th century will not be around much longer. I contend music will never be as innovative as it was before 1980. Where are the ten minute songs? Where are the instrumentals? Where are the backward noises and hidden messages? Why can’t Mike McCready and John Frusciante play five minute solos instead of thirty second solos? Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love modern rock. I just don’t understand why it has to be either radio-friendly or classified as a “jam band.” What happened to bands that simply jam?
The bands that carry on that tradition of innovation from before 1980 are known as “classic rock” bands. We have been so lucky to see so many of them continue and others reunite in our lifetime. As recently as this week, David Gilmour and Roger Waters got together for a charity gig. Roger will be touring this year to perform The Wall live, the first time this had been done in 29 years. I have seen Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Mike Campbell shred unbelievable solos; I’ve seen Neil Peart, Charlie Watts, and Mick Fleetwood bang away; I’ve seen John Paul Jones, Paul McCartney, and John Entwistle slap away; and I’ve heard the iconic voices of Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, Stevie Nicks, and Ozzy Osbourne. Future generations will not be so lucky. Sure, there’s the hope that Thom Yorke, Sheryl Crow, Tom Morello, and Jerry Cantrell will perform for future generations. I hope Phish and Pearl Jam tour well into the 2030’s. But carrying the torch of great rock is not the same as running around with a flame-thrower.
It is imperative to keep this in mind despite the $100+ face value on most classic rock band tickets. You are witnessing music history every time you see these legends take the stage. Unfortunately, their time is limited as many of them pass senior citizenship. How long can Mick run around the stage for two hours as if it’s no problem? How long can Roger Daltrey and Brian Johnson wail on the mike? How long can Lindsey Buckingham’s fingers move with such speed as precision? Hopefully for many more years to come. In the meantime, I’ll suck it up that I paid $280 to see The Wall performed live and appreciate that future generations will not be so lucky.