Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Johnny Rotten was right after all!
A recent music review on the 70s Band - America attracted an unusually rancid response from readers of this blog's mailing list. While some questioned my authority to judge America, others have complained that I was doing die hard fans of America a big disservice (and possibly lose out a few readers too)! Some even called me the enemy of good rock and roll! Scathing criticism so to speak!
Well, one of my favorite quotes from Johnny Rotten (John Joseph Lydon), the lead singer of the Sex Pistols comes to mind. Rotten once told an interviewer that he wanted to "kill the hippies." When the interviewer asked him why, Rotten’s answer was simple: "Because they’re complacent." You see, Johnny Rotten recognized that the real Enemy of rock and roll was not lack of talent! Rotten’s own bandmates could barely play their own instruments, yet they recorded some of the most memorable and important music of the 1970s. No, the real Enemy of great rock and roll was the lack of passion. The lack of energy. The lack of desire. The real Enemy was complacency.
After the sex-and-drugs party of the ‘60s, the early ‘70s were pretty much just an extended morning-after period. We’d been to the moon. We’d fought for civil rights. We’d pulled out of Vietnam. We weren’t really all that scared of the Russians anymore. It was a pretty complacent time for most Americans. Things were, for lack of a better word, boring.
And the boredom of the early ‘70s can clearly be heard in the music of the time. We’d survived Woodstock and Altamont, and nobody really knew what to do next. The Beatles had broken up, so we couldn’t rely on them anymore. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison had all passed away, too, making the void that much larger.
Into this void stepped a gaggle of strum-and-ponder "singer-songwriters." They were the prototypical sensitive males who tried to make the girls swoon by pretending that they were above trying to make the girls swoon. Instead, these victims of the sexual revolution wore their hearts on their sleeves and tried to impress everyone with just how sensitive they could be. These are men who would have had all of their testosterone removed if they’d been given the option. Their songs were often considered "deep" and "insightful," but that’s more of an indication of just how hungover America was at the time than the it is of the quality of the music. Listening to these songs today can be a downright painful endeavor.
I should know better– I’ve just finished (again) listening to 64 (yes, SIXTY-FREAKING-FOUR!!!) songs by the most complacent of all the ‘70s singer-songwriter outfits, ironically named America. It’s oddly fitting that this group, which represented the worst of our nation’s music at the time, would deem it appropriate to name themselves "America." Johnny Rotten was right after all. And now perhaps you know why my criticism!!!