Rock’n’Roll Is More Than Three Chords

Before I retired, I was a pretty high level Project Manager at ATT, a gig I worked my last eight years with the company.

Of course at work we all have our own styles, and my boss decided to audit a meeting I was holding one day. This was fine: I liked my boss a lot, and was good at my gig and always got good reviews and such.

And, with my job, I usually ran between 4-6 meetings a day. As it happened, during one of the agenda items the day my boss listened in, a couple of team members got tasks accomplished that should have taken at least another month and I blurted out, “you guys so rock it.”

The only comment Yolanda made about handling my duties was suggesting maybe another word than “rock” was appropriate. But, after another year, she retracted since my clients mostly loved my work and style telling me, “Just keep doing what you are doing and be yourself. That seems to work quite well.”

It was a big moment, for being told professionally to be yourself, was not something I have ever been used to hearing in any environ.

I have thought about that incidentt in concert with the stupid and incessant discussions (nee arguments) on this site about what RockRemnants is about.

It is clear to me that in Steve’s view, we should only be writing around Rock’n’Roll for as he points out, that is in the name of the site.

But, aside from that being boring, not to mention smacking the face of Aristotle, our first literary critic, who said writing should “teach and delight,” Steve’s provincial view of the term as it applies is just a bunch of crap.

For one thing, we all have views and the site is for fun, so suggesting some category of music or art shouldn’t be included is specious. If all he wants to write about is the Germs, fine. Boring, yeah, but again, if that is what he likes, who am I to call him “an idiot” or suggest he “ramble incoherently?”

But, to me, as I have stated repeatedly, Rock’n’Roll is about attitude and the music is simply a subset of that mindset, irrespective of whether Allan Freed named the shit before he saw Elvis swing his hips or not.

For sure Rock’n’Roll is in the first licks of Johnny B. Goode, but it also lies within the words of Howard Beale (Peter Finch in Network) when he screams “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore.” Rock’n’Roll is in the soul of any teenager who ever sneaked out of the house in the middle of the night to meet a lover in secret, or see a forbidden band, or ride fast in cars with one’s mates. And, like it or not, it is within Johnny Paychecks words when he said “take this job and shove it.”

So, for fun, here are some things that define Rock’n’Roll as far as I see it.

  • Muhammed Ali’s poetry and left hook.
  • James Dean’s smile.
  • Johnny Rotten’s sneer.
  • The Doors saying fuck you to Ed Sullivan with Jim Morrison screaming “girl we couldn’t get much higher” rather than the “much better” Sullivan insisted upon.
  • Mick and Keith’s on-stage interplay.
  • Joni Mitchell refusing to sell her song rights for commercial use.
  • Prince refusing to allow Itunes and Spotify stream his songs.
  • Marilyn Monroe’s voice.
  • Raj Davis’s homer to tie the 2016 World Series, and Ben Zobrist’s tenth inning double to tie it back up.
  • The wings at Virgil’s.

I could list more, but I think I make my point, and well, this is how I will continue writing and supporting the site because to me, Rock’n’Roll is indeed a music genre, but it is also part of a musical bigger whole, and music is one of the arts–like movies and painting and writing and all the other slices of imagination–the Muses ruled over.

To make one more point, if by having the name RockRemnants we are supposed to be limited to just Steve’s definition of the words and art form, then I suppose “all men are created equal” should only be applied to rich white landowning men, right?

And, if this song by Gabby Pahinui doesn’t kill you and tell you Rock is in everything, well, I feel sorry for your parochial existence.

 

 

 

In Defense of the Elitist “X” Aimed at the Anti-Intellectuals: “When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch”

“I know this site favors smart, funny and sexy (and not even rock ‘n’ roll – a lot), but man, the feeling in my sizeable gut knows what it knows. If you don’t get it, I feel sorry for you.”-Steve Moyer

“They probably have about as much chance as Trump of getting elected.” (re: Bad Brains getting into the R&R HOF)-Steve Moyer

I think nothing better exemplifies the “battle” of the populists against the media and “educated” class as do these comments from my mate Steve, in defense of the Bad Brains, but at the same time decrying the likes of The Clash, The Ramones, and X, suggesting:

“…Clash, Ramones and X are minor leagues compared to the best the Bad Brains have to offer. Smart? Funny? Sexy? Who gives a shit when there’s a wasp in your drawers?”

Well, really. In politics, I find it interesting that the right–primarily those affiliated with the TEA Party, Sara Palin, and now Trump–decry the supposed left-wing media as elitists and snobs.

Well, like it or not, the bulk of members of the news industry are indeed college educated, and that means some years of classes with professors invoking things like library research and application of critical thinking. Depending upon, such a degree also often involves some kind of exposure to the humanities and arts, thus giving a college graduate a pretty good cross-referenced education that opens the assessment of new and potentially challenging situations.

In essence, this is considered job training, for college should train to complete assignments (projects), on-time, answering a specific question or questions, and coming to a reasoned and reference supported conclusion.

That means sentences like “Who gives a shit when there’s a wasp in your drawers?” become a sort of false equivalency. That is because, for one, I would never solicit any creature armed with a stinger inside my briefs in the first place, and believe me, I did not need to go to college to figure that out.

But, the sort of judgmental reaction to X, or the Ramones, as not Rock’n’Roll is as specious as Donald Trump saying he knows more about ISOL than do our Generals.

Surely music, and art, and apparently politics, are subjective, but, I do need to remind that out of gut reactions come the denial of Climate Change, the certainty that trying to control assault weapons means eliminating the Second Amendment, and that somehow simply killing all the terrorists will solve the issue (I actually heard this from a couple of conservatives just prior to the Iraq invasion).

Certainly, logic is both relative and subjective, but, virtually no one who is educated and understands research ascribes meaning to any such statements, meaning apparently going to college is important, but to a certain portion of the population, those exact motions and processes that helped us learn and make intelligent choices are actually crap.

Well, ok, then why even bother to learn? Or better, to all of you who decry us as elitists, if you are so much wiser, why go to a Doctor or Lawyer or educated professional if you really are so much smarter when push comes to shove?

My partner, Diane, has a friend Jean who is several hundred pounds overweight. Jean is a sort of prototypical Trump girl, thinking Donald just saying “I will make better deals” is all that is necessary to “fix” what is perceived as America’s terrible state of affairs when the reality is, things are actually pretty good.

Not that our country could not improve, or money and justice better meted out, but all-in-all our recovery from years worth of Bush has been pretty good. Not perfect, but not just on a solid path. However had McCain or Romney won the election we would never hear the end of what a great job they did rebuilding the stock market and reducing unemployment and at least pushing our GDP. (Gas prices are down too which is not even a presidential issue, but when prices went up in 2008, John McCain said in an ad, “Who can you thank for rising gas prices? Obama”).

But Jean suffers from Type-B diabetes, along with the requisite maladies that come with overeating and not exercising that fell people who suddenly find themselves in their 40’s, obese, with a failing body. Jean does go to the Doctor, and the Docs always say the first thing she needs to do is change her eating habits, lose some weight, and start, slowly, an exercise program.

Jean has seen at least four Doctors for the over the ten years I have known Diane, and every time Jean responds after seeing the physician, saying, “what does he know, I am older than he is?”

Well, this is like saying the media has a liberal bias (it isn’t, it is a researched and educated one) or that the Clash or Ramones are not rockers.

Or, more important, that smart and funny and sexy have no business in a form of art (hmm, but KISS can dress up in ridiculous costumes, because ideally their music is another hornet in our skivvies).

I can understand loving music, or even art because it is visceral. I mean, that is part of what makes Mapplethorpe, for example powerful because often his outrageous images haunt and that is what pushes our thoughts into “what is the meaning of things?” and that, at least to me, pushes towards understanding being part of a bigger universe that binds us.

But, really, how narrow-minded are our accusers? Or, how ironic is it that while knowledge is to be revered, just as readily it is to be dismissed when a certain portion of the population doesn’t buy in? Mind you, this is not new shit. Ask Copernicus about almost being burned at the stake for suggesting the earth rotates around the sun (did you know that Donald?). Ask Pasteur, who was vilified for suggesting disease was carried my micoro-organisms.

Just for fun, I am finishing with a fantastic cut from X’s brilliant-and-a-half Wild Gift, an album that made my essentials list. It is funny. It has teen angst. And well, if you don’t think it rocks, well then I guess you think the Chinese really did “invent” Climate Change.

Better, however, a bee in the bonnet than a wasp in your drawers.

Internet K-Hole Inspired Photo Essay

screenshot-2016-10-19-10-50-46Everybody who knows the Internet K-Hole says they love the Internet K-Hole. I’ve previously said it here and here.

Someone at Cuepoint has taken 32 pictures from the hole and matched them to lyrics from songs. Some are great lyrics, some match the photo, some seem a little random, but it’s all good.

Enjoy.

 

ZZ Top, Legs

My old friend Dot skipped the debate tonight to see ZZ Top in Scottsdale, in Arizona.

Good choice, I said, but then I started thinking about ZZ Tops’ biggest hit and the video that dominated MTV for a while and thought it provided some commentary for the current political situation, which involves a lot of lies, a discombobulated narrative, bullying and, we hope at the end of day, some women’s liberation. Even if we don’t ever see Hillary kiss Bill again.

As you might expect, the signifiers are a mixed bag. Just vote.

The Young Rascals, “Mustang Sally”

My first experience of Mustang Sally was this single by the Young Rascals.

The history of white acts covering hits originally performed by black acts is long, deep and full of argument.

I mean, Pat Boone?

The Rascals, as they grew up to be known, were better than exploiters, but where you draw the line concerning cultural appropriation might color your opinion. What I’m sure of is the Rascals loved R&B music, and brought their own shape (my first thought was to say color, but that would be wrong) to it.

If you doubt the Rascals soul, try this:

Everything Changes, Nothing Changes

The most surprising aspect of our Spotify subscription is that Diane is crazy for it. She is admittedly not a music junkie like any of us here at the Remnants, in fact I asked what artists she followed and she promptly replied, “none.”

She just likes listening to playlists with high energy stuff she can work out to, and soul and funk from any era she can bop to while driving her car. But, I was surprised when she sent me a link to a song the other day, and I could not help but think of the song as analogous to other generations of horny post pubescent music junkies.

The first instance of song where boys are pleading for sex I could think of was the wonderful Good Golly Miss Molly by the one and only Little Richard, who was certainly clear about the whole sex/music thing in the fifties. This was at a time when saying words like “panties” were verboten on screen, for example, as shown in this clip from the Otto Preminger’s 1959 film, Anatomy of a Murder.

This clip of Richard, covering his tune, released in 1958, a year before Anatomy of a Murder came out, speaks for itself with respect to lyrical content, but this  clip was so perfect, as it is Richard live, playing for Muhammad Ali’s 50th birthday. And, well I have been thinking a lot about the loss of the great Ali as well as that of Prince, recently, and what a huge loss to our planet their spirits is.

The 60’s were not much better, and though this is indeed my favorite song by the Beach Boys, it is so lily-white in the Pat Boone’s cover of Little Richard’s Tutti Fruitti, sense, it makes my skin crawl. But, Brian Wilson could only hint at a time when “making love” still was kind of like Laurence Olivier suggesting the wooing of Joan Fontaine in Rebecca meant sweet talk behind a potted plant.

Here is the Beach Boys supporting that in the middle class white world very little changed over the 20 or so years between Rebecca and Don’t Worry Baby (which included that awful Boone shit in the middle of the time span). By the way, I love the song, but is this the worst “video” ever?

But, 50 years after Don’t Worry Baby, reality has struck and the world has simultaneously gone to hell in a hand basket, as witnessed by this song, by Strip Johnny, that popped up on Diane’s “Discover Weekly.” She heard it and  just had to share with me.

Truth is, I really like this last song a lot! Not as much as Little Richard, though. At least not just yet.

Kansas, Dust in the Wind

My daughter is writing a research paper about the Dust Bowl. She was looking for a title, and I glibly suggested Dust In The Wind. She liked it. I hope she gets an A.

But that moment was a reason to listen to the tune, which I probably haven’t done in a really long time. But in all these years, I could sing the song, and certainly have.

Checking out the video tonight. It is cheesy, but the melody and starkness of the tune are unforgettable. Is abjectness a vibe? Apparently.

Does that make it a great song? The video tells me this is some sort of midwestern crazy fundamental evangelical nonsense. All these pictures are like those on the internet that promise me pictures that changed weddings, history, Woodstock.

But the tune is straightforward, and was a hit everywhere. Maybe it’s the great melody, with an idea that everyone finds inevitable. Hell yeah!

What I don’t hear is careerism. I hear Remnants who went big and hit one out. Cool!