What Rock Means to Me (and what it could mean to you.) by Jonny Steiner

Posted: February 18, 2008 by Maximum Mike in The Rocking Chair Blog

I feel like I should start this off with a quote. Something iconic that Mick Jagger once said to Pat Benetar over beers at CBGBs. Maybe a line from an acceptance speech, or an appropriate bit of lyrics. The truth is that this is not about them, the Rockers and the Singers. Well it is about them, but it is more about us and how we feel when we rock. This is about you and me, the everyman fan and our attachment to the ones who live life as we can only dream it. For every Robert Plant or Steven Tyler there are millions of us who grew up singing with reckless abandon as we became bedroom frontmen shrieking away as we emulated the jockish posturing of David Lee Roth or the ethereal angst of Jim Morrison.
What is it that makes us rock? I will forgo the history lessons. For that you will have to listen to our radio show. The way I see it the emotions are all that matters. That is why a song like “Copperline” by James Taylor, can rock just as hard as Thunderstruck by AC/DC. The artist tells a story with their music, and if we are moved it rocks. It is that simple. I don’t think I am the only person who wants to get in a street fight every time I hear “Another one Bites the Dust” by Queen. I am sure I am not alone in my desire to rocket down a highway at 1,000 miles an hour when I hear “Running Down a Dream” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
What is unique about Rock music is that it is totally subjective while creating a sense of community across generations and social stratum. One of my first concert experiences was going to see Yes with my dad. It was a pretty good show, and for a bunch of old guys they could still play. What caught my attention was the fact that there were quite a few kids my age (about 14 at the time) out for some male bonding with their dads. The most prevalent community feeling is found in the festival going Jam Band crowd. They are a nomadic tribe of folks who travel following their favorite bands from city to city making friends along the way and trading stories. Within that culture however are some of the most rabid defenders of their own musical theories and opinions. It is awesome that music can be so contradictory, while being so unifying.
My father once said a band could sing about their grocery list and he wouldn’t care as long as it sounded good. I find this believable to a point. If a song has a killer riff, and a strong beat the listener might not get bogged down by the semantics of their lyrics. (scuse me while I kiss this guy) But what if the song “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton was called Orange Juice and was nothing more than an ode to his favorite breakfast drink? There is a style of poetry where you cut up an article and pull words at random out of a hat. I think that the success of that in creating words for a song would be inversely proportioned to the power inherent in the track. For example Metallica might have been able to get away with singing about bubblegum and fireflies given the power and complexity of their music. Joni Mitchell, on he other hand would probably have a hard time with songs about the death of the firstborn.
Rock music is a unifying, and dividing force. It is a window into our souls shown by the words of men and women who we worship for helping us understand ourselves better. I can only hope to impart some of this on my loyal readers every week as Mike and I, bring you along on our journey.

Welcome. I hope you stay a while.


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