A friend of mine posted on a social media site that he had “gone country” after attending a couple of c&w music festivals over the summer. He also added he felt rock music had grown stale, classic rock radio stations always played the same thing and that nothing new excited him. He also made a plea for any rock fans to make suggestions for good recent albums and artists that he would check out before uprooting his rock and roll world. I thought maybe he was just trying to stir up some friends into giving him some record ideas without having to make much of an effort so I ignored the nonsense and went to bed. Sleep became impossible however, since I couldn’t stop my mind from wondering if he was serious and if I should come to his aid by at least throwing out a band name or two (or 20). I suggested Queens of The Stone Age, Band of Horses, Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne, Mastodon, The National, Spoon and Father John Misty, plus probably a few others. He wrote back that he would try Kings of Leon and I felt happy to have given him a rock band to check out and then went into panic mode when I debated if Kings was a strong enough choice to keep the converted on the rock n roll path. It’s a lot of pressure on one act to keep a lifetime rock fan from abandoning ship. I personally don’t care if he listens to country or not, I like the older country artists but anything beyond the 70’s in that genre just doesn’t sound right to me. But I personally can’t imagine a scenario where I would say I’ve had enough of the music that has meant so much to me since about the time I learned how to drive a car. But this experiment in picking one more recent rock n roll gladiator to do battle for my musical soul was too intriguing to ignore. I’d have to go with Queens of The Stone Age since I think they have the creativity and musical muscle to keep the rock n roll machine moving forward. The landscape has changed so much since I was in my formative years when rock music was ubiquitous and part of popular culture. It’s still part of our culture but if feels like the volume got turned way down and that it is more of a niche then a way of life. When I saw part of a children’s act at a county park with puppets dancing to AC/DC’s music I know the fangs have gone out of the cobra. With age the music could be considered tame since it no longer sounds foreign to people’s ears but I think people just don’t listen very closely anymore. They’re too busy to notice that You Shook Me All Night Long has no business being part of a children’s act.
I hope my suggestions will keep my friend rocking for the rest of his life but I believe the ship has already sailed. He mentioned how much fun the festivals were and how fan friendly the artists were and it got me to wondering if that’s the biggest obstacle going forward. Rock n roll was built by “Gods” not just artists, at least that’s what fans my age group naively believed. We created the barrier that country music has been able to tear down so as usual I have no one to blame but myself. But I’ll go to my grave jamming alone in my room to Hendrix, Clapton, Page and the like before I’ll ever take one voluntary step heading toward a country music festival. I’m not out to offend country fans, I just can’t trade one sweet rock guitar lick for all the boot scooting boogie in the world.