If you have listened to Rock and Roll Report Radio or read The Rock and Roll Report for any length of time you will know that the whole purpose behind them (as well as the upcoming podcast) is to shine a light on unsigned and indie artists who represent to me the spirit and sound of what rock and roll is and should be. As such I tend not to listen to too much commercial rock radio but that does not mean that I have abandoned it completely. Let me tell you a story to illustrate why.
About a week ago I was driving around on a Saturday running errands and generally dumping more CO2 into the atmosphere as I attempted to get done all those things I needed doing. Normally when I am in the car I listen to CDs sent to me for review by various artists or a Rock and Roll Report Radio CD-R that I always make for the show. If I do listen to the radio and nothing is on CKUT I will either listen to the local classic rock radio station CHOM FM or the nearby “alternative rock” station The Buzz. I tend to constantly flip back and forth between the two since listening to the same song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is just as bad as listening to the same song by the Eagles hence my frustration with commercial radio.
As I flipped over to CHOM they were playing The Ocean by Led Zeppelin and I cranked it as I have always loved that song. After that was an oldie by April Wine and then something from Fleetwood Mac and finally an AC/DC track. The thing is, I was loving all of it and the reason is quite simple. Despite the fact that I grew up with this stuff, I don’t listen to it much anymore mainly because there is too much great new stuff to listen to but I will never deny (and you’d be insane not to) that rock and roll today is shaped as much by what has come in the past as to the technology and influences of today. And the thing of it is, when it is not constantly shoved down your throat it’s a blast to listen to! “Classic” rock and roll (for want of a better word) is still great music, it is just the unfortunate fact that having been played to death, the sheer joy of listening to it has been lost. I recently pulled out Exile on Main Street and listened to that thing like it was my first time, precisely because I have not had it foisted on me by annoying rock jocks who are more concerned with selling stereos and trips to the Dominican Republic than rock and roll and man was that a blast!
The moral of this long winded, poorly constructed story? Classic rock is not “bad” in the way that French fries are not bad. Constant exposure to both will lead to problems down the road but indulging every once in a while is not only a lot of fun but your enjoyment level will be that much higher. When I hear some indie rock dude complain about the Beatles or boast how they don’t own a record by the Doors I have to laugh because they are denying themselves an important part of rock and roll history. Yes classic rock radio has sucked the life out of rock and roll by not supporting emerging artists that I know will appeal to fans of Queen and David Bowie but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. The future is well taken care of and there are more than enough bands and artists to satisfy my rock and roll urge but taking a look back at all the great rock and roll that has come before is not an act of nostalgia in my books. It is simply acknowledging that rock and roll is a living, breathing creature with a past, a present and one hell of a future.
Too much of a good thing is no good but abstinence is just denying you some great music to listen to. So pull out that old CCR album and have a listen. You will be surprised at what you are missing. Then crank it up and enjoy.