; Tangled Up In Blue: Rock Legends

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Rock Legends

John's Stones post below brought up (perhaps unintentionally?) an interesting point. The Rolling Stones are a rock legend. Also claiming the title would be Aerosmith, Ozzie, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Springsteen, and of course, perhaps the ultimate legends of rock (albeit a lighter genre of rock) the Beetles. I'm sure you can think of many more. What all these groups have in common though is that they all existed prior to let's say 1990 (some of them more so than others).

To be certain, there's not a shortage of good new music out there. But most of today's music comes in the form of one-hit wonders mixed with a spattering of the lucky few bands who've managed to pull off 3 or 4 hits. Sure, some of the older legends are still strapping on guitars and pleasing fans, but there really are no new "legends." Think about it. Can you name anybody you'd call a "legend" who got their start post 1990? The only possible option I could come up with was the Dave Matthews Band. What do you think?


Blogger HUCK said...

I'd say Jack White and/or the White Stripes might just earn that title one day when the air has cleared and the rock historians have had enough time to digest his/their influence. Bet.

Although, in the running following the White Stripes would easily be Radiohead and then possibly Wilco in that order.

I agree with all of your legends except for Aerosmith. I think they are overhyped, posing, ripoff artists. The world of rock wouldn't be any different today if they had never existed. Everything they contributed to rock they stole from the Doors and Zeppelin. Aerosmith sux. There. I said it.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Raizor's Edge said...

I think the problem is in the fact that the radio stations (by which "hits" are largely measured through airplay) are so tightly controlled in their format that it's impossible for good new music (or even good old music) to break through. In my Zevon blog I talked about getting hooked on "Accidentally Like a Martyr." Well, I first heard that song on the radio. By the time Zevon's follow-up to Excitable Boy was released, the radio format powers that be had slammed the format door shut under the title "superstars," in effect making Zevon a "one-hit wonder." I think these "programming consultants" and their narrow-minded approach to selecting music to play for radio is one of the major things driving the success of satellite radio and MP3 players.

I think the people who think radio playlists should be locked up tighter than Fort Knox's gold dispository building need to realize one thing: were it not for the "open format" of the 70s, the two most overplayed songs in FM rock ("Stairway to Heaven" and "Free Bird") would NEVER have been heard, because neither were released as singles!

7:37 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

I'm of such mixed emotions about Aerosmith. I could live a long time without ever hearing "Dream On" again and live happy. And their descent into pop balladry is frightening.

But I love almost all of "Permanent Vacation."

It seems, too, that they're going to get all the credit for the rock/rap stuff, because of their collaboration with Run DMC, so I guess they're important for that reason.

What about bands like Green Day or Weezer? Hmm. This is a hard question because so much of the energy in popular music in the last decade has been in rap (Think of how easy it is to name the legendary rap artists from the 90s: Dre, Snoop, Tupac, Eminem, Missy Elliot, Biggie, etc.).

7:38 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

So true. If a song doesn't fit the correct algorithm and isn't statistically marketable to your scaled demographic audience, it is never considered for airtime.

It's so very sad that we are now force fed airway Soma instead of having the ability to vote for our music out of the grab bag of choices that we once had.

Meanwhile quality suffers and the burgeoning would-be legends are tossed out with the bathwater.

7:50 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

OK. I might concede that Aerosmith had a big affect on the development of Rap music, but I'm not so sure that they helped Rock music in the process.

7:59 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

Plus... they were totally used by Run DMC. Run DMC could have stolen a sample from any recognizable song from any rock band to promote Rap to a wider audience.

I'll stand by dis of Aerosmith.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Glen Dean said...

It is sick how Aerosmith became a "pop" band in the nineties. Still though, the "Toys In the Attic" Aerosmigh was a great rock and roll band. Walk this Way might be one of the best guitar songs ever. Too bad they sold out.

Widespread Panic is the most legendary band to come along in the last 15 years. They may have actually began in the late 80's, but that's close enough.

I probably saw a about 25 Panic shows between 1992 and 1995. I have the whole in my brain to prove it. The late Michael Howser was a guitar genius. He loved that one pedal that he kept his foot on all night. Plus John Bells vocals are incredible. Long jams, thats what I like.

PS Dolphin, I can't believe that you left the Grateful Dead out of that last. They are the greatest musical group of any genre, in my opinion.

8:14 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

Good call, Dean. God bless the Dead. God bless'em everyone.

I couldn't agree more that the Dead are continually overlooked on lists of Rock legends. Their influence can't be understated and their musical reach and depth can't be challenged by any other band. Jerry, Bob and the boys pulled the best out of the best of American musical institutions.

Then they took those bits and pieces of overlooked genius, experimented with them with trial and error and eventually wove tapestries, yes tapestries, Dean of perfect musical inovation.

Whenever the world needed a miracle the Dead delivered.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Glen Dean said...

Excellent comments. I love to hear someone recognize the Dead. I have calmed down a bit but I used to be a fanatic. I still see Phil Lesh and Friends, Ratdog, or the Dead (they dropped the Grateful) whenever I can. Warren Haynes really jams that music. In fact, I highly recommend Phil Lesh's album "There and Back Again" which features Warren Haynes on guitar and vocals. Of course no studio recording really satisfies a true "head". I only own one Grateful Dead studio album, "American Beauty". I got lots of concert bootlegs though.

Hey, anybody up for Bonneroo 2006?

8:42 PM  
Blogger John H said...

One thing all the groups listed in the post, along with the Dead, have in common is that they synthesized musical genres (chiefly soul/gospel/blues and rock). Earlier legends such as the mackdaddy Hank Williams and his 'offspring' Elvis did the same thing.

Right now, music is fragmented into niche-like categories. There doesn't seem to be any one popular artist who is working outside their own safety zone. There are a slew of good artists who are doing exactly that, but they either haven't had their breakthrough or we just aren't ready for them yet.

White Stripes may be the closest thing to it (besides DMB) because they certainly bring some ferocious blues into their own blistering melodic post-punk world. In a few years, both DMB and White Stripes might fit into the legend category.

Wilco and Radiohead are incredible and popular, but does their appeal stretch out past the indie rock listener (a large crowd to be sure)?

9:11 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

I still haven't heard any Phil and Friends or Ratdog. Although I did catch Joan Osborn & Bobby Weir led 'Dead' at the 2003 Bonnaroo.
...and well, I have to say I wasn't all that impressed. A lot of it had to do with Joan, but I have to admit, a lot also had to do with Bob. Don't get me wrong. Bob's great with Jerry behind him to slap him around when he gets too sloppy, but without Jerry... Yep, it's just Bob.

Anyway, Bonnaroo was one helluva cosmic experience. I loved every quantum nanosec of it. Everything, that is except for the drive in, and the drive out.

After 10 hrs of stop and go traffic without air conditioning, because you had to cut off the car to save gas, in May, I swore that my onetime Bonnaroo adventure would be a one-time adventure.

Again though as I said, I loved every minute of it outside of the car. There are still legends to be seen, and they are still to be found at Bonnaroo.

Here's a short list of some the Legends I was lucky enough to see:
The Dead
Emmylou Harris
Neil Young
James Brown
Widespread Panic
Nickle Creek
The Flaming Lips

9:23 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

John H,
Granted. Wilco could be dropped from contention, because they really are simply the American reflex reaction to Radiohead's influence. Which, however still, brings us back to Radiohead.

Radiohead. They have definately spawned their share of imitators, Wilco and Coldplay being the most obvious and popular. They also however do happen to bend genres with their leaps from punk to alt to new wave electronica to ambient weirdness. You have to give it to them. They don't pussyfoot around in the studio.

I don't think they tie many if any American genres together, but they do have a good grasp of the British and European scenes, and quite functionally manage to interweave some funky sounds borrowed from across these landscapes.

I dare say that they are the inovators they are hyped to be, and thereby, still very much Legend material.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Glen Dean said...

Awesome, I have a couple of Phil and Friend and Ratdog bootlegs if you are interested. I actually have the RatDog show that they played at the Ryman a couple of years ago on CD. I had a lot of fun at the show, but RatDog really doesn't sound that good on tape. Bob did an awesome El Paso. It was kind of cool to see him sing that song at the same place that Marty Robbins used to sing it.
The best post Grateful Dead band that one of the band members started, is most definetly Phil and Friends, particularly the line up that included Jimmy Hering, Warren Haynes, Bruce Hornsby's drummer and a couple of other guys I can't remember. Warren Haynes is my favorite guitarist right now. I guess I love the guys who take a 5 minute song and play it 25 minutes the most.

I would love to see Galactic. I have missed all of the Bonneroo's. I had to avoid those kind of places for about three years (long story) in order to get myself straight. I would love to go next year though.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I love Coldplay and Radiohead, but I think one genius of the 90s being left out is Beck. His influence can be found in their music. And, I've never heard anyone pull off rap,punk, electronia,soul and rock on one cd like Beck did with Odelay. I don't know if it's the stuff legends are made of, but it's worth noting him.

And the 90s were the decade of women. Alanis Morrisette ushered in an era on unbridled angst with Jagged Little Pill, and despite all the Courtney Love jokes, Hole's "Live Thru This" was brilliant. Groups like L7 and Bikini Kill opened the door for more mainstream women like Tori Amos, and Annie DiFranco...who was initially an indie, but gained general exceptance. The 90s was definitely a defining decade for women in rock.
Of course, if you go back to 1979, you'll find Marianne Faithful's cd...*!*!* I just forgot the name of it, but I consider that cd the first riot grrl cd. Ck it out. You can see where she was the original. I saw her last year at the Belcourt, and she still rocks.
So I don't know about any real 90s legends, but it was definitely defining for women in rock.

10:36 PM  
Blogger HUCK said...

Don't forget PJ Harvey, or Liz Phair.

Also, I can't believe that no one has dropped the Cobain bomb yet...

6:41 AM  
Blogger dolphin said...

aunt b,
I think the shift to rap legends is an excellent and valid observation. I hadn't thought of that.

7:54 AM  

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