*This article originally appeared in RVA Mag #36, on the streets now at all your favorite spots. It’s a special contribution from Nate Newton, a member of the bands Converge, Doomriders, and Old Man Gloom.
Rock and roll is dead. Each and every one of you need to hear this: you, the “real” fans of “real” music. Because, let’s be honest — it’s all about you.
You, who cannot believe these kids today and their awful taste in music — music you are not willing to understand. You, who “cannot stand this EDM shit.” You, who can’t stand all of this ineffectual “indie-rock bullshit.” You, who don’t get modern rap and hip-hop. You, who think this year’s lineup at Coachella (or any other festival) is “shit.” You, who constantly wonder where all of today’s rock and roll heroes are living, and where the rock and roll lifestyle migrated (hint: they’re rappers). You, who distinguish yourself in the wild with your natural bluster of, “There’s no good music anymore.”
Rest assured, I was once you.
Envision in our future a vast island of garbage, floating aimlessly in a dead ocean. Not one of trash, waste, and rubbish. No, this island of garbage will be built with vinyl copies of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, made over and over for record store day, year in and year out — because the eight million copies already in circulation throughout America are somehow not enough. This island will stay afloat through remastering, remixing, repackaging, rehashing, and re-releasing every re-forgotten classic of utmost importance to the Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers.
Why? Because for them, there will always be an inherent need to buy the same album, over and over, for the next 50 years. Never exploring, never recognizing that the vast musical frontier is generational, and that every generation makes new music for their time. Instead we cling to a vast Pangea, whose bedrock is made of millions of Beatles anthologies and Led Zeppelin box sets. And on this supercontinent are mountains built by the Best of Chicago, and snow-capped with every useless copy of Whipped Cream and Other Delights by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
This musical wasteland will always be adrift, like a massive, rudderless ghost-ship set to sea by the rock gods of our elders’ wonder years. Their gods can never be replaced. Should they be, the replacements know that they, too, may very well be replaced. So the mantra of “there’s no good music anymore” marches on, and with it, the generation of music fans who will always know best. The ones who still want you to know that The Who sang “Long Live Rock.” The kids are alright — didn’t you know?
In the end, the younger generation — the ones whose work you hate — are the ones driving creativity in 2019. They don’t care about your rock and roll; they’re worried about an uninhabitable planet, worried about affording a house one day, worried about crowdfunding their medical bills. They are definitely not interested in being told which rock and roll altar they need to kneel to. They’re on to the next thing, and thank fuck for that. They don’t need your old rock gods. It is time for them to make their own, and it’s time for us to make space. Nurture their creativity.
The island needs to be set adrift. Let the birds shit on it. Let the seeds be fertilized and sprout new musical life; a musical life we won’t understand. It’s time we let the island become an unrecognizable paradise.
The kids are alright… they always will be. Let rock and roll finally die.
Do. Not. Fucking. Resuscitate.
Photo by Rama, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia