Reading SCARRIET’s Top 100 Rock Songs of All Time forced me to finally publish this draft I’ve had sitting around:
Up against the wall, burn it all down girl, smash the state, armed love, light my fire, here comes the new order, impending chaos, a new dawn, when all is one and one is all, etc, etc.
Oh yeah, man. Rock’n’Roll is so REVOLUSHUNARY !
It’s all about, like, Freedom . . . and Change . . . and, uh—
But let us pause for a moment and consider: spoiled sons and daughters of the upper and middle classes, children of the land of plenty gyrating in the psychedelic sun or cavorting in nocturnal cavern-clubs; masses of stoned teens chanting in arenas, banging their heads to guttural nonsense—raving narcissistic drugged-out youth, flaunting their rebellion and paying good money to confuse their brains while they do it in the road, mocking the sexual standards of anterior generations while projecting bad attitude and donning costumes of calculated shock-value; self-anointed anarchist prophets, metal-head barbarian wannabees and metro-queer Gothic prettyboys . . . these are certainly interesting cultural phenomena (symptoms?) to study. But PLEASE don’t call it revolutionary change. Revolutionary change would mow down these bourgeois decadents and ridiculously-attired hipsters with machine-gun fire and then herd the rest into reeducation camps. Revolution is organized death at the hands of tyrants, thugs, and bureaucracies . . .
Rock n’Roll is about, uh—downloading tunes to your i-pod, getting high and disobeying authority figures. To hell with Rock and Roll. It’s just a lot of syncopated slave music at its “get your groove on” heart. (I mean “slave” in the greater Greco-Roman and Nietzschean sense of the word—not in the recent context only. Think Hellenistically for a moment). Rock’n’Roll and all of it’s shock the bourgeoisie/anti-patrician offshoots is music of the lower chakras, gut-music, 3 or 4 chord fuzzed-up anthems to carnality punctuated by bestial grunts, plebeian hoots, hillbilly yells, pimp-strutting shrieks, lecherous leering slavering animality, and undulating serpentine harlotry. Ooooooh—how revolting it truly is—because it commodifies revolt, repackages the same old inarticulate teenage rebellion OVER & OVER & OVER, intensifying it slightly each time, tweaking it for each distinct youth subculture and acting as if it actually had more significance than it does (remember, I also love the music—bear with me; we’re analyzing here . . .) Rock music is an opportunistic infection and a power-aggrandizing freak show. It monopolizes your attention with its pounding adrenaline-rushing excitement but then can’t figure out what it wants to say to you. You mistake its verses for Wisdom and Truth—especially when you’re high or drunk or tripping. But in the end, it’s just words and rhythms with a lot of “ooh yeah” and “woah baybeh” and “c’mon now child”—or worse. It messes up your diastolic cardiac-rhythms and induces slight panic and disorientation that you mistake for liberation and enlightenment. Then you go out and BUY the GOODS ! Lucifer is reliving his glory days as the instigator of an abortive coup attempt against Heaven and God Almighty. He is mumbling in the vomit-blocked tracheae of dead false prophets and departed drummers. He is strutting on the glittering stage amidst cheap pyrotechnics at a show where no one gets in for free—and no one gets out alive. The Prince of this World is bringing out his new product line next spring. The tawdry androgynous freak, the glowering little dictator (the ghost of a dead insect) tries to convince himself that he is alive by cultivating the adoration of godless youth who salute him in unison like a bunch of Nazi faithful at a fascist rally. Rock and Roll is stupid when you think about it. I’m ashamed I like it so much.
Classical music is probably better for your mind in the long run.