Baby Boomer rock music needs to die

the_beatles

Every generation lives as a continuation of what came before, but people today live in the shadow of the 1960s. Our culture, politics and society all changed during that time and we have not changed it back or found anything different. So we circle, repeating the same tired tropes as if they were new or insightful.

The music industry lives in thrall to The Beatles. Those lads were their biggest success, both breaking out rock as a mainstream product, and utterly dominating the charts to this day. Whenever they can, they praise The Beatles.

We are all in the thrall of journalists who like anything that sounds like The Beatles and other 1960s rock despite that music being relevant fifty years ago. From the top down, the whole industry wanks on the bands that were hip then. If you want to get ahead, you have to mention The Beatles at least once in your interviews.

Even though Baby Boomers are now decrepit and old in the “get off my lawn” years, they still want to control us with the image of their music. That image is: no one was better than the 1960s rockers, no one was a bigger rebel than us, and nothing better will ever be made. This nonsense needs to end even if violence must be employed for that purpose.

1960s rock bands stood out in their day only because the music around them was so horribly insipid that it compares to… well, pop today, actually. It was basically the same stuff: standard chord progressions, love and sex topics, pop song format. Nothing has changed there. We all know Nirvana is better than Shakira, but we forget that both can be just as fake but in different ways.

The Beatles wrote their songs around a melody line that unraveled progressively as the song went on. They used key in non-standard ways. They spent a lot of time in the studio figuring out new sounds. They were our first shy-looking, wimpy, sensitive guy superstars. For that we are supposed to praise them into the grave.

In retrospect, what they did was switch audiences. 1950s pop wanted to pitch itself to normal kids who would then go on to have lives in which music served a lesser role. 1960s pop wanted to make its audience identify with it for life, so that even now tedious old fossils will whip out The Beatles LPs like they were a revelation from God.

But many of us do not need weak-looking hipsters to make us accept music. We are comfortable with who we are, whether that is weightlifter or nerd. We just like music for being good. And that part has two components: talent on the surface, and having something of value to contribute beneath.

No one doubts that The Beatles and other 1960s bands had talent on the surface. What they lacked was something of value to communicate. They came up with the image first, and back-wrote the political and social opinions to support that image. Their idea was to be iconoclasts who turned their backs on everything their parents believed. That’s great, if you’re 14. The following year it’s already old.

Instead our music industry remains stuck in perpetual adolescence, repeating these same tired words and ideas, churning out new versions of the same image and music, because the Baby Boomer mentality will simply not die. And so we all repeat the cycle again, hating it but unable to escape.

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52 thoughts on “Baby Boomer rock music needs to die”

  1. Richard Head says:

    Hey, Brett’s voicing an opinion even more taboo than my own, so I can’t think of a better time to share it: Harrison was the best guitarist in the Beatles.

  2. Buddhist Disciple says:

    Accepting the evil within might be the key to a greater world with greater music. We are all pedophiles, torturers and mass murderers as we are nice parents, lovers and doctors.

    Ps: no need to buddhist discple me, I post swastikas all over facebook and as lame sites and its always fine

  3. azarath says:

    A lot of the same things could be said about Slayer.

    1. HereticWarfare says:

      I was just thinking the same thing – ha!

  4. Carg says:

    There’s a fair number of phenomenal ’60s bands that blow most music made in the past thirty years firmly out of the water. Arguably a lot of them made their best records in the early ’70s, but they’re still ’60s bands in origin, form, and intent.

    It would seem that coke and speed just overtook acid and mushrooms at some point in the ’70s, leading to a general diminution in music quality that lingers today. Only bands producing good music nowadays are either highly spiritual about their output or are still taking suitable quantities of psychedelics (or both). The rest is music for the sake of making music – “let’s be in a band, a band like these bands, that makes this kind of music, because we like it and we know people who like it, so we’ll be in a band”. These people have nothing important or powerful to communicate, because their only communicable experience, in this context, is the experience of listening to other people’s music.

      1. Richard Head says:

        Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

        1. Meek Metalhead says:

          Everything I`ve heard from Zappa comes off as purely novel to me. Maybe I`m not listening to the right output?

          1. Novel, ironic, and very talented but also not very interesting. Sad to say.

            1. Richard Head says:

              Ironic, no. Zappa was the ultimate anti-hipster. He didn’t give a fuck about being artistic. He was anti-establishment generally but he had sound reasoning behind all of his positions. He ran his own label and funded his own tours and only dealt with the best of the best when it came to his backing band. He was funny, creative, and disciplined. Not only a guitar master, but also an accomplished composer.

              His quirkiness turns a lot of people off but it is just plain weird to say he wasn’t interesting.

                1. Richard Head says:

                  Inca Roads is probably my favorite Zappa chune. Are you trying to prove something or just being a cool dude and posting cool songs? Well, that’s a stupid question; you’re posting cool songs anyway.

                  1. admortemfestinamus says:

                    From having listened about everything Zappa for a couple years, only ‘Canarsie’ holds up to something more than tunes to me.

                    1. Richard Head says:

                      That’s weird but good on ya for getting a kick out of it. I recommend London Symphony Orchestra Plays Zappa Vols. 1 & 2 if you haven’t heard them yet, so you can hear his non-parody music. Jazz From Hell is another album full of instrumental brainstorming if the typical parody rock stuf doesn’t do it for you.

          2. ODB says:

            Hot Rats? It’s a wonderful place to start exploring Zappa’s musicality and his never ending catalog. Some very lush, classical/jazz hybrid but also fully-fleshed instrumentals here without the usual goofiness (which you have to love in all honesty).

            1. Richard Head says:

              Probably the best starting point, I’m also fond of Joe’s Garage and The Man From Utopia.

          3. BB says:

            Try: “Where only in it for the money”, “Hot Rats”, “Roxy & Elsewhere”, “Guitar”, “The Yellow Shark”, “Civilization Phase III” and “Frank Zappa plays the music of Frank Zappa: A memorial Tribute”. All very diverse and his best records imo. Stay away from the radio friendly stuff like Dancing Fool.

            Probably the best guitar player of the 20th century..

            1. Richard Head says:

              Agreed, totally underrated as a guitarist, never appears on top-x lists while Buckethead and Slash are placed at the top.

      2. Carg says:

        Random selection off the top of my head: Doors, Yes, Genesis, Santana, Camel, Soft Machine, Caravan (questionable), Sweet Smoke, Jethro Tull, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, and a whole load of crazy jazz.

        Are Gentle Giant ’60s? Hawkwind? I mean, the bands all up there were active in the ’60s, but there’s loads of early ’70s bands whose individual members, while not coalescing as the groups they would become, were playing professionally from ’65-6 onwards.

        Also, yes, Frank Zappa. Can be hit and miss, but he did a lot of cool stuff.

        1. Richard Head says:

          Gentle Giant, could not recall that name for the life of me but I was going to mention them along with my Zappa suggestion

        2. Carg says:

          Also, not strictly ’60s, but some of the late ’60s and early ’70s work by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, etc. Crazy, but cool.

  5. ralfe says:

    “Even though Baby Boomers are now decrepit and old in the “get off my lawn” years, they still want to control us with the image of their music. That image is: no one was better than the 1960s rockers, no one was a bigger rebel than us, and nothing better will ever be made. This nonsense needs to end even if violence must be employed for that purpose.”

    Unfortunately the go-to cultural opponent of this viewpoint is pop and commercial rap music. It had become a battle of two different camps of degenerate slop; “we” don’t even factor into it. The Beatles may be the lesser evil, Brett.

    “We all know Nirvana is better than Shakira, but we forget that both can be just as fake but in different ways.”

    Well said. Nirvana may have been more fake. At least Shakira has a worldview that’s potentially healthy. Kurt was another high school counterculture victim who based his worldview on pissing off his parents and making excuses for himself. His music was exactly as commercial and dumbed down as a pop diva’s, he just based it on punk and 80s noise rock.

    1. Unfortunately the go-to cultural opponent of this viewpoint is pop and commercial rap music.

      How generous you are. Rap music, like techno and disco from which it arose, is ultimately a giant marketing scam. Again it is given the veneer of African so it can be sold to bored white people looking for exotics, much like Hawaiian music and before it Gypsy music was hip. If people are bored, sell them the exotic.

      Mainly hip-hop is useful because like punk it lowered standards, which reduces emphasis on composition and performance, which proportionately makes production more important, which puts the focus back on technology (production) and money, which makes the music workers more easily controlled cogs and thus better investments for the company and shareholders alike. Rock music was industrial process applied to the music of its day, and hip-hop was the same: break music down to an electronic beat, samples and people talking. Cut out all the complexity and keep people dumb. That way, you can sell them whatever crap you have and if the production is good, they will buy it.

      A similar history can found in the stories of margarine, breakfast cereal, tablet computing, etc.

      1. BS says:

        I don’t intend to defend any genre’s of music here, but I do want to offer an alternate theory.

        A genre begins its life cycle as a simplistic visceral experience that is rich with concrete sensory imagery but lacking in complexity. The content is more literal. Hellhammer is a good example here, as is early rock and roll and punk. Hip hop, in its early years fits this pattern as well. A key feature of this phase is in its dissociation. The music hasn’t been abstracted, categorized into genres. Sure, names are given during this periods, but there are no concrete definitions. Seek out interviews of the early days of a band. I’ve found in many cases, they allude to something like “we didn’t know what to call it, we just wanted to make the most extreme dark music ever.” Or what have you from any particular genre.

        The next phase is where the complexity happens. Categorization is the method by which humans reason yes? Once a genre has been subjected to this dimension of the human experience, it begins to take on more complexity. The content is less direct, more abstract and far less literal. Morbid Angel, Incantation, 70s rock, jazz, HC punk. In modern hip hops case, the rhyme schemes are far more complex, there is a greater focus on deliver and proficiency. The compositions of the production are noticeably following the same patterns.

        I haven’t quite worked out yet the final phases when a genre runs out of steam. It seems that – and the relationship between death and black metal is a notable example here – if a genre does find renewal, it is I’m stripping itself back down to the visceral and concrete phases of its beginnings to explore dimensions in that territory without the burden of finely wrought abstract language and rationalist inquiry.

        Arguably black metal fell prey to the same visceral->abstract dynamic as death metal. It seems as if metal as a whole has completely run the course however since the work being produced on the visceral end is competent but uneccessary reproductions of past territory. The work on the abstract end looks outside of metal and punk to find renewal and we all know how bad that is going – something DM.org covers admirably.

        Sorry for this post not being as fleshed out as it deserves. I’m trying to write in between my wife nagging about groceries and baby stuff.

        1. BS says:

          Just an aside, feel free to reject this model if you don’t think it explains reality. It’s just a model, not the literal truth so no skin off my back.

  6. Dismember your Member says:

    Award winning Expert dismemberment of the Beatles
    http://www.scaruffi.com/vol1/beatles.html

    1. While there are great moments in this, he is still of the illusion that rock music (1) was new in any way (2) was ever anything but a commercial product and (3) that its African veneer (and even the “Aryan” veneer he speaks of The Beatles having) was anything but marketing. He correctly nails what seems to me the true direction of The Beatles: basically, a throwback to the vocal groups of twenty years before. It was only in their later years that the religion of the guitar came out. Also he correctly notes that innocuous melody is their trademark but probably should mention that non-confrontational is a bigger portion. I think it is a mistake to write off their abilities, and more important to attack their intention. They turned rock music into a suburban mom product.

  7. MichelobMike says:

    McCartney didn’t turn his back on what his parents believed. The Beatles were three different songwriters (mostly two). Lennon was the self-proclaimed hipster messiah. McCartney just wanted to write tunes.

  8. BringItOn says:

    I’ll be 65 on Christmas Day, and I’m planning to go this Thursday night to hear Pallbearer and Mortals. I sense a tiny bit of ageism going on here. Just sayin’.

    1. Pallbearer? Seems to perfectly illustrate the point the article made: rock assimilationists from the boomer years wish to absorb metal into their own excremental and tedious vision of rock.

      1. Richard Head says:

        Hey man, Sorrow and Extinction is good music no matter how you slice it. Haven’t heard the new album so I don’t speak for their discography but that first one is not pop/rock, faux metal, or even really metal at all, it’s just damn fine music. Little bit proggy but hardly indulgent. The lyrical topics are heavy but not histrionic. The compositions are outstanding and the melodies are sublime. All in all it’s an honest effort and the band has my support in hope that they don’t take the easy road through the next albums and prove you right.

  9. Dr. Shivago says:

    We’re all gunna die!! Dammit you metalheads.
    Our electric grid is unbelievably vulnerable. If it were to go down due to attack or natural causes, the situation would be dire. No food, no water, no life as we know it…
    More important than metal is this vid:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdCaV3ELvsM

  10. wEEman33 says:

    “That image is: no one was better than the 1960s rockers, no one was a bigger rebel than us, and nothing better will ever be made.”

    So what’s the difference between that group of Baby Boomers and the people who still champion 1983 – 1994 metal musicians?

    1. So what’s the difference between that group of Baby Boomers and the people who still champion 1983 – 1994 metal musicians?

      We don’t endorse rock, we don’t claim to be bigger rebels, and no one has ever claimed nothing better will ever be made. We await it and hope for it, but we’re holding up a certain group as a yardstick not because they sold more albums, but because their art was more inspired.

      You could say the same thing about people who use Beethoven as a yardstick.

      1. BB says:

        You’re comparing hyperbole used by enthusiasts (that you yourself paraphrased and put in their mouths) to your own tempered enthusiasm about metal. Dishonest debating trick.

        Nobody holds the Beatles as a yardstick because they sold more records: people tend to hold them as a yardstick because they like their melodies, they feel they were more inspired pop musicians than The Monkees, etc. But yeah, because so many people liked their melodies and the way they were marketed, they sold a lot of records.

        “We” don’t claim to be bigger rebels? Where’s all the chest-thumping about being Hessians/Romantics/etc gone? (What’ll be next, some sophistry on the meaning of the word ‘rebel’?)

        Reality is a hell of a lot more complex than what you describe in articles like these. You paint with such broad strokes, cherrypicking, generating an image that suits your narrative time and time again: “the mainstream is bad, hipsters are weak, our own binary thinking is not superficial, the art I like is more inspired than the art your mom likes”.

        1. Dishonest debating trick.

          I tire of the internet. (1) Scaruffi (2) you didn’t challenge (3) contra “nobody” there’s good reason to believe it’s the cause of their media sensation.

          You paint with such broad strokes, cherrypicking, generating an image that suits your narrative time and time again: “the mainstream is bad, hipsters are weak, our own binary thinking is not superficial, the art I like is more inspired than the art your mom likes”.

          “Eating poop is bad” = “broad strokes, cherrypicked, posing”

          1. BB says:

            Instead of implying rock or pop are poop, you’d better apply Sturgeon’s law. There’s rock and pop music that is highly inspired art.

            1. There’s rock and pop music that is highly inspired art.

              Non-qualifier. Highly inspired art is subjective to the creator, and says nothing about complexity or relevance to the others or those who may be of higher mentality ability.

              1. BB says:

                Rephrase: There’s rock and pop music that is great art.

                I used the term “inspired” since you used it yourself:
                “…but we’re holding up a certain group as a yardstick not because they sold more albums, but because their art was more inspired.”

                1. There’s rock and pop music that is great art.

                  I disagree. There’s rock and pop with fragments of potential, but they never pull it together because the art form is deliberately dumbed-down, like pop, rap, deathcore, etc are.

                  1. BB says:

                    Nick Drake’s Pink Moon? Joanna Newsom’s Ys / Have One On Me? Elliott Smith 2nd, 3rd & 4th album? Etc.

                    Nothing dumbed-down there. I guess you may reply that the above is not pop/rock?

                    Faraquet? Fugazi? Propagandhi?

                    1. I’m not familiar with all of those, but Fugazi/Propagandhi? Was that a typo?

                    2. BB says:

                      No – granted, musically, they are the lesser of the names I mentioned. For both bands I mean their later output, last 2 albums or so. Propagandhi is not the same band anymore they were on How To Clean Everything.

                      I mainly inserted them here mainly for being not dumbed-down content wise. You’ll not agree with their politics, but it clearly isn’t dumbed down.

  11. Roger says:

    “The Beatles wrote their songs around a melody line that unraveled progressively as the song went on. They used key in non-standard ways. They spent a lot of time in the studio figuring out new sounds. They were our first shy-looking, wimpy, sensitive guy superstars. For that we are supposed to praise them into the grave.

    In retrospect, what they did was switch audiences. 1950s pop wanted to pitch itself to normal kids who would then go on to have lives in which music served a lesser role. 1960s pop wanted to make its audience identify with it for life, so that even now tedious old fossils will whip out The Beatles LPs like they were a revelation from God.

    But many of us do not need weak-looking hipsters to make us accept music. We are comfortable with who we are, whether that is weightlifter or nerd. We just like music for being good. And that part has two components: talent on the surface, and having something of value to contribute beneath.”

    ….Eh, this is so ad hominim (attacking a person’s character) that the hominim is practically oozing through the pixels on my computer screen.

    “Tedious old fossils will whip out The Beatles LPs” because the Beatles are 100 times better than most subsequent pop-rock. Without the Sargent Pepper’s LP, prog would not be around. Thus metal would not be around.

    You praise a band like Motorhead, who sing about snorting crack and gambling and whores. So the charge that the Beetles don’t ‘communicate much’, in the way of a high brow philosophy, is like the catholic church targeting schools for child abuse.

    Sure, the Beetles had no great philosophy, but if we stick to the MUSIC, they are a diamond in the rough compared to the shit that came after, and people realize that. They are upholding the best, from their own ‘tradition’ (pop-rock).

    And when it comes to a BETTER tradition (progressive rock, ambient, metal), Beatles are proto-prog… so they are an integral part of it!

    1. Eh, this is so ad hominim (attacking a person’s character)

      Ad hominem is “you are stupid, therefore you are wrong.”

      1. Roger says:

        Ok Brett, it’s not exactly the right diagnosis. What I was *trying* to get at is the fact that you seemed to spend an overly large amount of space making wildly arbitrary personal attacks on the Beatles as opposed to simply addressing their music (which you did a bit of, which was good), and their influence (which you didn’t – especially on Prog (and so metal!)).

        1. wildly arbitrary personal attacks on the Beatles as opposed to simply addressing their music

          Actually, I did that. What are these “personal attacks”?

      2. Roger says:

        And I wanted to highlight the inconsistency of attacking the Beatles for their lack of communicative content when you praise a band like Motorhead who encourage such behavior as drug use, prostitution and gambling.

  12. pm says:

    BRETT Stevens, what do you think of IN UTERO Nirvana?
    Also, ever heard this: acquiring the taste (gentle giant)?

  13. pm says:

    If you havê a good memory, ull know why im asking about in utero

    1. Was just thinking of it yesterday. Short answer: typical self-pity jive.

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