Off Campus

07 November 2006

Rock and Roll Over

I'm feeling old. Not because I have a birthday coming up (the next "big" number is a long way off), but because of the radio.

I grew up on the local Rock station. Current hard rock and metal mixed with classic rock. I'm of the school that "Classic Rock" has a particular flavor, not a certain definition. More than just two guitars, a bass and drum ensemble, but not easily describable without throwing out some band names, The Eagles, CCR, Clapton, (early) Aerosmith, J Geils, The Steve Miller Band... you get the idea (Google if you don't - now I really feel old).

Lately the local Classic Rock Station seems to play anything that hit it's 10 year birthday. I first caught on to this when they started playing Van Halen back in the mid 90's. Ok - early Van Halen, These were before my time (well, before my cognative time), so no big deal. But when I recognized songs from their 1984 album, I really was taked aback. How can music that premiered on MTV be considered classic rock, now or ever?

The Rock and Roll Hall of fame has a 25 year waiting period before an artist/album may be eligible for entry, so why is a song/artist able to be classic, 15 years before it's deemed worthy of their consideration?

Anyhow, I suppressed my memory of Jump (and the sound of Eddie's guitar solo), on the classic rock station, until they began playing some songs by "Van Hagar". Ok, this is going too far. Songs from my high-school days, when I was, (ok not was, but felt) barely out of college cannot be "classic rock".

As the playlist became more and more current, (for my tastes) I warmed to the idea of a 10-year statute of limitations on what could or couldn't become classic rock. This was fine, as I could still hear the "real" classics (from my parents time) intermingled with the newer ones from mine. Not a bad playlist if you ask me. A wider range of Aerosmith, CCR, CSN, Queen, The Eagles, The Cars, Whitesnake. Huh? wait a second. Hair bands (Metal/Rock) from the 80's/90's qualify now too? ... oops, I've moved back to the certain sound versus age definition again. Is anything 10 years old classic? Why, that still seems so young.

While scanning through stations, I heard Boston play back to back with Flashdance on the radio tonight, both from about the same time, but the former still seems timeless, while the latter definately screams 80's. Some bands/songs still have a timeless sound and are hard pressed to pinpoint to a certain year/decade/sound, and thereby immune to eternity as classic rock or any other quantifiable thing. I think Boston's catalog fits the bill, a number of Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Springsteen, Queensryche and more - any thoughts/comments?

What a wierd time it will be when If I had a $1,000,000 and anything by an "American Idol" is deemed a classic anthem of the 90's or Aught-whatevers, by some future generation of DJ. You think I'm kidding?

One thought that amuses me, and certainly feasible today, which may help to argue the "sound over age definition of what truly is and can be deemed classic rock. Imagine a playlist as follows: Layla by Eric Clapton, Longview by Green Day, House of Pains Jump Around, Crazy Train by Ozzy, Higher Ground by either Stevie Wonder or The Red Hot Chili Peppers, then a little Metallica, Jane's Addiction, Extreme, The Clash, Tool and finally Faith No More before the commercial break. Not classic rock by my definition, but seemilgly so by another... and if you have to google those bands, I give up. I really am old.

Thinking about my parents generation - the Baby Boomers - they probably went through the same deal when the song they grew up with were classified as "oldies". I've been listening to a mostly "oldies" station (at work with my dad) this past week, partially because he likes it, and mostly because we're out in the boonies and have no other option. Most of what I've heard isn't oldies to me. Chicago, Stevie Wonder, The Animals, The Zombies, Fleetwood Mac, Barry White...

How about this, some new rules for classification, that won't change with time (hopefully). Anything that was once deemed Rock and Roll should really be classic rock - Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and the Comets, anything from the British Invasion. Hell the Doors celebrated their 40th anniversary this week, and they are still getting a lot of radio time. Also, any band that is still recording, regardless of their age, cannot be deemed classic rock, at least not until they break up, burn out or fade away. Hence the Rolling Stones cannot be classic rock, though the Beatles can be. Eric Clapton - no. But any band he was previously in, Derek and the Dominoes, Cream, sure. Anything older than that can be labeled oldies, or anything post WWII through Vietnam era without the standard guitar/bass/drum combo. Sonny and Cher, Diana Ross, nothing you could play air guitar too.

I'm sure there is a real definition out there somewhere and I'm wasting my time not checking... but for my taste most DJ's aren't either... so something has to be said. Otherwise I'd have to sadly admit that my entire CD collection is nothing but classic rock, modern or otherwise. AC/DC, The Black Crowes, Genesis, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Extreme, The Who, Joe Satriani, The Wallflowers, Counting Crows, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana - nothing that should be, but is able to be deemed classic rock by the 10 year old standard. Thankfully I have my iPod to keep me young and up to date. Dave Matthews Band, Buffalo Tom, U2, Tom Cochrane, Bare Naked Ladies, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Weezer... Oh no! Thats all old too!

Well, I'm off to download some Jet, The New Cars, and.. (any suggestions?) so I can still have a shot at burning out, before I fade away.