[I still don’t understand how I got hooked up with Quora Digest, but they send me links everyday that are usually relevant and occasionally worthwhile. Similarly, I don’t know who Winston Smith is, or why he is answering the question of whether rock is dead. But, it gives me the excuse to revisit some of my favorite things– The Old Grey Whistle Test, The Who in their best performance period, and Nirvana, who were to my kids what The Who were to me. If rock is dead does mean I won’t be able to rock out with my grand daughters? Long live rock! SB SM]
by Winston Smith ·
It’s already dead. Been dead for awhile. This is coming from a guy who is a HUGE rock fan.
Jack Black, a well—known rock connoisseur, discussed this during an interview a few years back. He said that the last epic rock band was Nirvana. Quite a few famous rockers and rock junkies agree, I among them.
Some people have pointed out that the White Stripes were still selling out stadiums, long after Kurt Cobain committed suicide. While this is absolutely true, Jack and Meg weren’t really a rock band. Jack himself has said that Meg and he made a point to disguise their songs, so that it wasn’t too obvious that they were “two white kids, playing the blues.” Jack was right.
So, they don’t count.
The fact is, rock was dying when Nirvana first came onto the scene. Their first album, “Bleach,” 1989, was fairly well received by critics, but not by the general population. Rock was about to go under for the last time. But, in 1991, a life preserver, in the form of Nirvana’s second album, “Nevermind,” kept rock afloat… for a bit longer anyway.
In fact, it was actually one song, ONE, that kept rock on life support. Cobain’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the last epic rock song, from the last epic rock band.
As others have noted, when it comes to music, “dead” doesn’t mean “extinct.” Rock is still around. New rock bands pop up every now and then. But, as a significant, popular and highly influential musical genre, rock-‘n’-roll IS dead.
Want proof? Check out the bands playing at the smattering of rock festivals throughout the country; hell, throughout the world. I would be shocked, floored, if anyone can name just one band performing at any rock festival, worldwide, that was formed less than ten years ago. Now, that’s an educated guess. I haven’t actually researched that statistic. But, betcha’ I’m right, or damn close.
It’s sucks, sure. But, if you’re a true rock-‘n’-roll fan, it’s also pretty cool, when you consider that the last iconic rock song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a song most rock fans thought was about youthful rebellion against the sellout baby boomers, but, according to Kurt, was pretty much about nothing because he said he was too lazy to work out a coherent theme, was its requiem!
And, the dude who penned it referenced Neil Young’s equally iconic rock song, “Hey Hey, My My”:
“It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.”
You can’t get any more rock than that!
Keeping all that in mind, can you, or anyone for that matter, name even one rock band or musician, which gained fame after Kurt’s/Nirvana’s death, that comes even close to being that legendary, iconic, influential and just plain F’ing cool?
Unh-unh. I think not.
So, yeah, rock is dead. But, DAMN, if it didn’t burn bright in the short time it was here.
A rather heart-breaking and relevant coincidence was that Kurt’s mention of “Hey Hey, My my” in his suicide note, contains another famous lyric:
“Hey hey, my my, rock-‘n’-roll can never die.”
Not entirely, anyway. As a music genre, only rap comes even close to Rock-‘n’-rolls legendary impact on music and culture, throughout the world.
And, legends never die.