23 May 2008

Classic Rock Is Not For Rednecks

I've recently started to listen to the classic rock station again. I used to be a rabid rock listener until the mid-1990s. I stopped listening partly because of the fact I'd heard every song on the station's playlist at least a couple hundred times. Mostly I ceased because I couldn't stand the commercials any longer.

Well, I've ventured back into the world of commercial radio. Don't ask me why, but I'm there. It's really cool that I get to play the same game of "Quick, name this group!" with my sons that my uncle played with me. It's even more fun to share some music trivia with them... but one thing about the current classic rockers confuses me.

How did the classic rock audience become so closed minded? I'm serious here.

Maybe it's not the audience. Maybe it's the DJ's or the programmers or the big guys sitting in their New York offices. Whatever it is, I don't understand how it's all about macho rednecks. It's all about monster trucks, rodeos and being a "real" American. It's about being a redneck, as though Lynard Skynard is the only band that ever mattered. Just because the hugely popular "My Name Is Earl" chooses to color its show about white trash with classic rock tunes doesn't mean the spirit of classic rock is riddled with closed-minded idiots.

Think of all the top names from the rock scenes of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd... It was all about challenging the status quo, about trying new and exciting things, things that pushed both musician and listener to the edge and beyond. Somewhere along the line, though, the clueless frat boy and good ole boy made their way into the classic rock psyche and we get to hear ignorant-ass remarks from DJ's like the one I heard the other day:

"Apparently Robert Plant's got together with some of bluegrass people to make an album. Guess he must be hard up these days."

Are you kidding me? Has this guy ever listened to some of the mandolin-rich tunes that Zep produced. Probably not; he just plays what's on the list. That "bluegrass people" is a hugely successful person known as Alison Krauss. Ever hear of her? If you haven't, odds are you're living in a bubble.

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