So, rock ‘n’ roll music was really gathering steam as the 1970’s passed. Born in the late 1940’s and 1950’s as a mix of many musical elements, the musical genre became ever more popular throughout the 1960’s and into the early ’70’s, defining an entire generation of young people along the way. Then, somewhere along the line, the whole thing sort of went off the tracks. And it’s just starting to get back on now.
I was rolling merrily along in the 70’s, really enjoying new musical developments, and evolving into something of a prog-rocker with a special affinity for bands like Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, et al. To me, progressive rock was the culmination of rock ‘n’ roll music – sort of like our era’s answer to the great classical music of earlier ages. To me, it was brilliant stuff that seemed headed for a bright future in the world of Clockwork Orange.
But what I didn’t see was the complete and total takeover of the music industry by large corporations that stopped letting the public decide its own musical tastes and, instead, started to decide those musical tastes for it. The music gradually became sort of a second fiddle to the cult of celebrity that the big record companies worked to create.
Big Changes Were Coming
It all changed in the mid ’70’s. Mainstream music seemed to sort of tear itself apart. One part was the slick, over-produced, brash musical form that came to be known as disco, while the other was a complete and total reaction to the over-commercialization of the music biz – the raw, enervated, emotionally-charged musical form known as punk. And, really, what we have today in mainstream music is the end game for both of these genres.
I was horrified when this happened. I was surely not a fan of the glitzy world of disco, but I also treated the punk world with disdain because I thought the music was substandard. And I really wasn’t into the crudity of it all….didn’t like the spitting on the audience, crude gestures and utter vulgarity of the whole scene. These days, I think differently.
I am, in fact, a big fan of most punk music today and now feel I understand the genre better than when it first burst on the scene and I was a young guy. I can see that the rage and anger of the punk movement against overproduction and commercialization were a wonderfully positive part of music history. Sid Vicious really had it together. His message was a good one and we should have listened.
Mostly Vapid but with Bright Spots
Today, a huge amount of the rock ‘n’ roll music that the industry throws at us has become vapid. But there are also bright spots. The Internet and Youtube have changed the rules of the game – they’ve got the record companies constantly playing catch-up to what is popular instead of programming us with their latest mindless melodies. These days, if you can get a piece of music together and video it, you can put it up on Youtube, and it could go viral. And if that happens, the record companies will be beating a path to your door. Believe it or not, we’re actually getting to decide what we want to listen to – not some record company executive in a corner office somewhere.
It’s a brave, new world out there in the music business and I kind of like it. I don’t like a lot of the new music, but that’s probably because I’m an old guy and not in touch. I do like the use of the internet to give the masses some control over what’s popular and what’s not. It means we’re starting to have some say in our own affairs again. And that’s happening in almost every aspect of society these days, and I think it’s a good thing