Number 65 in the list of articles asking the question “Has rock and roll become irrelevant?”

Here we go again. Another article asking the same question and of course I have to talk about it. This article on CNN.com titled “Has rock and roll become irrelevant?” is actually from last October and is quite well written using “The Last DJ” by Tom Petty as a springboard in describing all that ails rock and roll. I’m not disputing the fact that mainstream radio sucks, the record labels for the most part are more interested in the bottom line than over good music of any style and the fact that rock and roll is certainly not as popular in a general sense as it once was but I like to look at things from the “glass half full” kind of perspective. Every week I post about another very cool, usually independent record label putting out cool rock and roll made today. Every week I highlight at least one radio station or radio show pumping out cool rock and roll sounds from today and yesterday that keep the music vibrant and alive. Last but not least I talk about all kinds of cool rock and roll bands still making great rock and roll week in and week out. Now is all this stuff popular or “relevant”? Well that depends on how you define “popular” first of all. No, quality rock and roll by it’s very nature doesn’t appeal to the lowest common musical denominator, or to the American Idol loving, Brittany obsessed, Janet’s boob rules masses since it requires a spirit of musical adventure but so what. Any genre of music, be it rock and roll, blues, reggae or bluegrass can survive outside the glare of the local Enormodome’s spotlights and not only thrive but survive if people want it to. Popularity has nothing to do with the amount of units shifted (although sales like it or not are necessary for any musician, label or radio station to make a living but then again everything is relative. Selling a million records on a major record label versus selling 10,000 on a small indie label carry two totally different meanings with the indie musician arguably more popular and “successful” than the major label artist after the accountants have a go at things). Being popular does not also equate with being good. Justin Timberlake is popular. The Dirtbombs are good. And relevancy is such a loaded term. I would have no problem arguing that the people going to see The High Dials, or The A-Sides, or The Shazaam consider their music to be more personally relevant than the average fan at a Clay Aikman concert (look him up). I think that the days of rock and roll ruling the planet as the sole musical force for rebellious teenagers are sadly over but I prefer the current reality in that those that buy cool rock and roll records and go see cool rock and roll bands while supporting cool local record stores and cool indie record labels are more interested in what is good than in what is popular and at the end of the day, the music is better for it. Instead of moaning over what is wrong with the music industry, focus in on what is right and support it. Buy your next batch of indie records from an indie record store, go see cool rock and roll in smaller clubs and support that amazing radio station that you listen to on the ‘Net with a couple of your hard earned bucks. All you will have to show for it will be some amazing times listening to amazing music and that is more than enough by me and the thousands of other people that listen to this stuff every day. Real rock and roll thanks you and that is why rock and roll is not only still relevant to those of us who love real rock and roll, it is a necessary antidote to all that is crap in music today and in this day and age we need all the rock and roll we can possibly muster. The job of those of us who really care for rock and roll is to publicize it, write about it, talk about it and play it to as many of those ignorant of its existence as we possibly can. Will this make it more relevant? Perhaps. Will this make people happier? Definitely. Will this cure the world’s ills? Well, it couldn’t hurt. Really.
Later.