The Last Rung

There’s a common thread in the entries I have posted on NROR, they are all about trying to solve a personal riddle. My connection to music is solid and I use that connection to bond with other people with similar interests. I’ve never been one who makes friends easily and sports was always a nice topic to discuss with other guys but my interests in pro sports has dimmed over the years. Seasons run into next seasons and I can’t remember the point to them anymore. I appreciate watching athletes perform amazing feats but I don’t really care who wins or loses. I’ve adapted a similar philosophy toward the music I love, especially rock. It doesn’t matter if the genre wins or loses I just appreciate great performances even if it’s from a musician long past his or her prime. But unlike my casual interests in sports schedules, I do want the next tour/album release season to come around. I’ve been reading a lot of old rock criticism from the big names who made the form legit such as Christgau, Marsh and of course Bangs. Lester makes me laugh as much as he makes me think and I’m fascinated by his reviews that question Rock and Roll’s relevancy in 1970. I would love to know what he would think about where rock stands over 40 years later, he might be okay with it’s position. The old days of grandiose rock Gods that lifted their egos to the heavens and cast a rift between performer and audience still exists but immortality ain’t what it used to be. A big record from an established rock star doesn’t make waves anymore (a tour does though) unless it’s tied to technology or social media. For example, U2’s Songs of Innocence sold only 28 thousand copies in its first week in the U.S. and the band had its worst showing on the UK Albums Chart in 33 years (Wikipedia). Taylor Swift broke the Four million mark with 1989 and she was the last artist to do that since she did it with Red. Social media has shrunk the distance between rock star and fan but it also removes some of the magic that seemed to be the motor that made the rock and roll machine move. It’s difficult for a type of music tied to youth, freedom and sex to age gracefully and a lot of dead legends have cluttered up space for new artists to grow. The music has survived but sinks lower and lower in most people’s minds since after they’ve learned all the essential songs the rest becomes cute novelty. Nostalgia get repackaged with more incentives than a CEO’s golden parachute but it’s still the same music no matter how different it’s presented. Despite all the drawbacks and public lack of interest I still find I crave more of the music that sparked my interest over 3 decades ago and I can’t explain it any better now than I could then. When I find a record or a new artist that has a killer riff or lyrics or even a cool song title I get just as excited as I did the first time I heard Whole Lotta Love. I plan on going to several concerts this year which is a surprise since most years it’s the same old rehash tours in the same old places but this season I crave it like it might be a swan song, a last surge of the old fire burning from within. I doubt there will be another season as active as this one and I plan to enjoy every second of it. I don’t think this last push will help solve my riddle anymore than any album or show ever has in the past but maybe some things are best left undiscovered. Understanding why something rocks your soul isn’t always as exciting as just letting it take over and going with wherever it might lead.

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