I watched an interview with Chuck Klosterman over the weekend. He was doing press to support his new book, But What If We’re Wrong?.
I love the premise. He’s looking at our world, as it relates to pop culture, and imagining what people might think one hundred or three hundred years in the future. Seriously, I eat this shit up and am buying this right away. He examines our sports, our television and of most interest to me, our rock music.
Will anyone know about rock music in 300 years? If so, what will they know about it? Will there only be one thing that most people will know about it? Maybe Woodstock or The Beatles? Or will it be an artist that is not currently thought of as that important? Will rock music just be a forgotten blip in our world history?
Some would say that rock music, as we used to know it, is already dead. I’ve long thought that the killing blow came in the mid 80’s when some corporate jackass invented the “classic rock” format. Two important things happened at that point. First of all, the rock stations stopped breaking new bands. Think about it. Who was the last new band to get their new music played on rock radio in the states? I think it was probably the Black Crowes, who had their massive hit album, Shake Your Money Maker, in 1990. They snuck through the door but there weren’t many big acts after them to break through on rock radio. Secondly, and this was maddening to me at the time, they stopped playing new music from most of the artists that were on their station. Why play a new song from Jethro Tull when we can just play Aqualung for the 10,000th time? The money dried up for many artists, whose album sales went down the drain.
Then along comes the internet a few years later and with it, file sharing and music streaming. Talk about the financial well drying up! Did you happen to catch this interview with Roger Daltrey? Read this quote and tell me, who can blame him for feeling this way?
“There’s no record industry anymore. Why would I make a record?” Daltrey wondered. “I would have to pay to make a record. There’s no royalties, so I can’t see that ever happening. There’s no record business. How do you get the money to make the records? I don’t know. I’m certainly not going to pay money to give my music away free. I can’t afford to do that. I’ve got other things I could waste the money on.”
Long Live Rock!