It’s a picturesque Spring day, the sun slipping behind cotton clouds and the sky alive with rich blues. It’s a patchwork of vibrant colours, and as I stare out the window like a wailing widow, rock band Thunder’s cover of classic ‘Gimme Shelter’ pumps through my headphones, chugging away like a steam locomotive. My bones come alive, rattling and rolling in time to a rhythm that consumes all. Soon I’m stomping the ground like RogerTaylor and screeching along in full force.
And that’s when I asked myself the question: What exactly have we lost in music today? Yes,I am completely aware how this piece will make me sound.Yes,I favour classic rock from the 70s and 80s, and yes, I am not an overwhelming fan of modern stuff. There are a few bands I pay attention to–the charts are peppered with the occasional catchy pop/rock (at best) hit–but generally… I am that child with the band shirts and the long hair.
Here’s the thing. I go to BOP at the SU every now and then, I’ve been to clubs, I know some of the current “trendy” music from my flatmates during pre-drinks. But it never fills me with that feeling ‘Gimme Shelter’ does. That apocalyptic, hard-rock heavy sound that creeps like a barrage toward you, making you tap the floor like a crippling introvert at a massive family reunion. It’s the feeling the music back then gave you; the chugging guitar riffs, the drum beats like shattering claps of thunder, the lyrics that howled down the microphone about sex, drugs, and rock.
It’s that feeling I’m talking about. And you know what, if you get that same feeling from what’s in the charts right now, then good for you. I’m glad. No, really, I’m even envious, I wish I could get that feeling from [insert trendy modern artist here so the article is outdated in but a few weeks],but I can’t. And I still don’t think most do, either. I mean, let’s use an example here for a second. Can you really tell me that Jovi’s legendary ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ makes you feel as mighty and awesome as, say, Ariana Grande?
It’s the tingling of wind chimes matching your heart, the talk box mounting up into a crescendo of drums and guitar. And I get that from almost any song at the time. Tastes were, to be expected, different back then. The masses were hungry for it. Queen, TomPetty, Guns ‘N Roses, Status Quo, Def Leppard, hell, even bands earlier or later such as Oasis or The Beatles. The crowds went wild for more guitar, more drums, more riffs that you needed to own on three physical mediums.
The rhythm section drives that crashing force that makes it impossible to stay, well, stationary. I find it all too easy to talk through the light-hearted pop-rock hits of today. But if‘We Will Rock You’s blasting away in the background, I can’t keep focused. My head is already going, my legs are stomping away, I’m reciting Freddie Mercury like a gothic poet.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with liking pop rock. Or pop. Or indie. Or alternative. Music tastes are all our own, personal things. Interestingly, we guard them more securely than secrets, sometimes. We don’t want people to judge our tastes in sound, and if we open up about what bands we like, we can’t stop. We need our friends to like them, too. And when they inevitably don’t (because, unsurprisingly, we all differ) we sink back into the shadows. I’d loathe tearing up someone’s music taste – it’s an attack on the very things we love, our passions.
I just don’t understand it, I suppose. For me, classic rock will always be what burns through my veins. ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ will always be my anthem. ‘I Want It All’ will take me through whatever obstacles life throws at me. ‘Refugee’ will remind me how free music can make us. And maybe, just maybe, music will rekindle that fire again. Perhaps one day we’ll decide we need it heavy again.
‘Til then, I’ll see you down HMV, head stuck in the rock section somewhere.