Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Ramble On

i've been re-reading old rock mags from the 70s
and things have indeed changed
those scribes really used to ramble on
they'd go on at length about silly inane things
that had very little to do with the music

but i used to read every word
i connected to the journalist who had a peek beyond the velvet rope
i gobbled up all the info i could get
liner notes were like encyclopedias
i knew the studio
the session players
the producers
the funny messages
it seemed to matter back then

but now i need tiny blocks of text
i can't remember the last time i read an actual album review
and every time one of the oldies re-releases an album
i'm amazed at how much revisionist history is inserted

creem magazine was my go to mag
they had a journalist named lisa robinson
she went on the road with led zeppelin in 73
that kind of access would never be granted these days
lisa lived with the band
and wrote about it
it's an incredible read
and a clear indication of what life was like on the road
before press agents and handlers got hold of the bands

there's another interview with mick
also from 73
and they're asking him whether the upcoming tour
was going to be their last?
they're asking mick if he's too old for rock 'n' roll?
i couldn't imagine 40 years of the same questions
no wonder mick looks like he's always about to roll his eyes

there's another article from 75
that asks if 'we really need yet another book on the beatles?'
of course now you can buy books on the beatles at a gas station

today so called rock stars
are inserted into a level of micro management
that ensures a bland and boring legacy

i do a lot of interviews
at least 2 a week
our press machine rolls like side two of abbey road
i'm good at press
and i know how to get our message out
and our message is important
because i'm well aware that this is not our music
like i say - we're curators
we take care of classic rock the same way a museum takes care of king tut's estate

here's a series of questions i always get asked:
what will the classic albums of the future be?
as far as i can tell
there aren't going to be any
what's the last classic album?
U2s joshua tree and then a radioheads OK computer
where is rock going?
the way of jazz

that last answer opens up a can of worms
no one wants to hear that rock has had its day
but it has
there's cool bands that are carrying on the tradition
the crowes
the sheepdogs
the killers
but for the most part
rock is wounded
and being mangled
by people who repeatedly use the following words:
- demographic
- brand
- marketing
- social media
these people need to go on a road trip with led zeppelin
or at least spend a weekend with me and the CAL zep band

people always argue with me
they claim that justin timberlake has classic albums
or that katy perry is better than i think
i love pop
i've always loved a good song
but when it comes to a classic album
i challenge
i punch up the artists discography
and start by asking the arguer to name a couple albums
they can't
how about songs?
usually it's just one song named
this is not the criteria that justifies a classic album
a classic album - by definition - needs to endure

have a look at rolling stone or billboard charts from 2003
nothing survived
punch in 1993
sure there were a couple alright albums
but for the most part - pass me a pillow
i give the nineties a solid 5 stars out of ten for music

the journalism from that time was equally as banal
naval gazing reflections from people with expensive hair cuts
contrived trumped cool
i remember feeling lost in the 90s
i was still listening to the beatles
the stones
and zep
everyone thought i was a hippie
but the cream rose to the top
and while bjork may be an important artist
her music has been swallowed up by the whirlpool of forgetfulness

i'm not sure what will survive
as i age i realize that i'm usually wrong about a great many things
but i've spent everyday of my life since i was 7
loving music
and i've dedicated my life to it
so i'm going to make a bold prediction:
rock 'n' roll is here to stay

craig martin
september 18, 2013
apple slices with honey