Reasoning with Madness
"This is a barbaric yawp, and it will be sounded over the roofs of the world."
"Rock N' Roll is my religion and my law. Won't ever change. May think it's strange. You can't kill Rock N' Roll. It's here to stay."
Gene Simmons infamously said recently, "Rock is Dead." And then he caught hell from the entire universe for months for it. I was and still am one of those guys who put him on blast.
I stand behind my words, because Rock isn't dead, even though those words have been uttered many times in my world recently. A few weeks ago I was blown out of one of the last great Rock stations on the west coast, along with my entire staff. The station flipped to some softer, gentler "rock" station by recommendation of "consultants".
Since then, many people have been stricken with grief, sorrow and righteous anger. Their favorite station was gone! The staff thrown to the curb. And then, like a row of dominos another station south of us, owned by the same company, did the same thing. And all of sudden...there were no more rock stations in Oregon. The Mothership station in Portland was long gone, flipped to a newstalk station. Rock went silent all the way down I5 for the first time in generations. Sure there were "rock" stations, all pretending through some contrived "at-work playlist" designed to lull, not inspire. None of it was...Real Rock.
Now I know, there's plenty of ways to get music now days. I enjoy them all myself. But radio was something different. It was local. It's personal. It's interactive in ways that all the other methods are not. It's a relationship with the listener. And in a lot of cities in America, it's missing the Rock. They just do not exist on the airwaves like they used to. It's pretty easy to utter the term, "Rock is Dead" going through any given city in America, trying to find it on the dial. But it's just not true. Rock is not dead. And it will never die.
I stand behind those words because Rock is beyond a song or a band, or a riff or a specific sound. It's an attitude. It's a way of life. It's a philosophy. It's a mentality and it's a soup of emotions that run straight to the core of our being as humans. It's rebellion. It's truth. It's standing up for yourself. It's independence and brotherhood, it's passion and power and wisdom and folly. It's making mistakes and living to tell the tale. It's going big and winning. It's beating back the monotony that most people deal with on any given day. It's loud and it's mean, it's raw, sexual and defiant. It's the weed in the manicured garden of life.
Those who embrace Rock can speak for this truth. I do not need to put it into words (although I just did, I guess).
But I will say now, I think Gene was on to something, at least from a business standpoint. Rock is being attacked. It's being silenced. It's being pushed to the back of the room and it's being exterminated by shiesty corporate types. Fools with cheap suits and bad haircuts, drunk on power with a short-sighted limited scope of vision. The grimy smile of a first class flyer. You know the type. Making all the money on the backs of their workers while they starve them out until they're done with them. It's no different in the rock game than it is in pretty much the rest of the country. It's the Donald Trump types, skimming the top, running everything into the ground for another few pennies and blaming all the poor fucks below them for ruining everything. Nasty tactics and weird propaganda across the board.
And rock...It's being constantly chiseled away and softened in a never ending game of follow the leader. And there are no leaders anymore. There's only followers now. Everyone succumbs to the herd mentality. Because the mongrel suits, they're wiping out all the leaders, one bad chess move at a time. And in the end, the checkmate will come down on them hard and fast, and they will lose it all, because they never stood for anything in the first place. So when the ground moves under their feet, they are slammed hard. And this race to the bottom, this urge to copy the last success of someone else's toil, it won't last. It never does. You have to stand out. You have to be free of the shackles of conformity. You have to break out of the mold and do something different. And that, in essence, is the gospel of Rock. Innovation, rebellion, and speaking your mind.
But in this day and age that's hard to do, with all the other opinionated screamers out there pushing their lousy agendas, crowding the soap box with misinformation and garbage and all the follower parrots screaming with them without once considering the actual things they are saying, doing or standing for. They just want to fit in. We're being bred to obey. We're being bred to keep our heads down, stay out of the way of the never ending guillotine.
But that's not Rock N' Roll.
Rock N' Roll is having the courage to get out there and stand up in the face of conformity. To be yourself and believe in yourself.
When I was a kid, it was Rock N' Roll that taught me that. It made me unafraid of the backlash. It helped me develop my own style, my own thoughts, my own goals. It never pushed me away, it always welcomed me and for that, I will be forever grateful, and I will be a rocker til I die because of it.
But it's a tough world now.
Innovation and rebellion isn't rewarded by the powers that be anymore, it's rejected in a violent purge of hatred and disgust from people who never understood it in the first place. It's being picked apart by buzzards with demographic statistics and profit quotas. Banks run everything now. Bands don't get paid like they used to. The kingpins or the bar bands, none of 'em. They're being starved. Just like the outlets who spread the gospel. Radio Stations are becoming Dentist Office Affairs for their Docker Rock every week. Everything must be cleaned, washed and perfectly sanitized and presented in a nice slick package that means nothing to anyone and blends in like a camouflage cancer. Rock has always shaken the upper crust, the Establishment types. The rule makers hate it, and they've been trying to wipe it off the map since it started way back when Elvis was King.
"That Devil Music is Pollutin' the Kids' Heads, Teaching 'Em To Burn Society Down! Teachin' to Misbehaaaave! We gotta put a stop to that!"
But here's the thing: No matter how hard the greedy bean counters in the biz try to kill Rock, they never will. You see Rock isn't dead because it's immortal and lives within us. It is our religion and our law. You can't kill it, because as Ozzy once said, YOU CAN'T KILL ROCK N ROLL. IT'S HERE TO STAY.
Oh, you can try. And they do. Every day. All the time. But it's infected far too much of this world to eradicate it entirely. You might pull the weed out of the garden, but the spores, the seeds, they have already flown everywhere. They have already landed. They have already populated another garden nearby. And they will pop up and grow forever. It's a species that the sanitized herd thinkers hate. No matter how much chemical burn they throw at it, no matter how hard they dig it up and toss, Rock is a weed that will never die. It will live forever in some form, in the hearts and souls, the speakers and headphones of millions of disgruntled, hungry warriors looking to shake the status quo and live life as they choose, not as they're told.
And for the pretenders out there, masquerading around like you're the Real Thing...trust me. No one's buying your bullshit.
Who Am I?
I am Ahab.