Friday, July 11, 2014

Rock and Roll, Rebellion, and Bruce Springsteen

As always, when it comes to my political rants, these views are mine alone.  They do not reflect the other posters, or LegendsOfSpringsteen.com as a whole.  You know the deal, by this point...

Earlier this year Macklemore and Ryan Lewis made headlines when he did a mass marriage of same-sex couples at the Grammy awards.  The next day the mainstream media praised this huge step forward for same-sex couples and talked about how "brave" Macklemore was.  Brave?  Really?  After years of being against same-sex marriage, I am happy to say that I now support what really seems like a no-brainer.  But is it really brave for a celebrity to support same-sex marriage?  Especially in front of a liberal-Hollywood crowd.  Everyone there supported it is as well, so how is it brave?  Ten years ago, it would be brave.  Now it's not only safe, it's downright predictable.

It got me to thinking about the sorry state of rock music today.  The genre has basically died.  It's a shame because I still love it so much, and I would love to see it make it comeback.  But I don't even know where to hear new bands anymore.  But, back in it's hey-day, rock music was all about rebellion.  It was about stating what you believe, no matter how unpopular it is.  I remember Guns N' Roses getting in all sorts of trouble for their song "One In A Million".  It was deemed racist, homophobic, insulting to cops and immigrants.  Axl Rose simply defended it by saying it was how he felt.  They had plenty of other incidents where their lyrics and content would cause trouble.  In the late 80's when Bono was trying to help AIDS research, Skid Row's Sebastian Bach infamously wore a shirt that said "AIDS Kills Fags Dead".  Bodycount got in trouble for their song "Cop Killer".  2 Live Crew's album was deemed too offensive to even sell!  Now I don't really support any of those ideas, but I absolutely support their right to express it.  My point is, even though most of these bands would probably say now that they wouldn't do it, at the time that's how they felt.  That's bravery.  That's what made rock and roll music.  I would love to a return to this.  It would be so cool to see someone support the second amendment, come out supporting fracking, or something else totally radical.  But in today's corporate sponsored environment, I just don't see it happening.  I'm sure we will just get the same hypocritical comments from musicians who try to support laws that deny citizens their right to guns while being followed by armed security guards.  Perform concerts for "climate change awareness", while touring with a monstrosity stage set up that is putting forth an enormous carbon footprint.  Predictability is what killed rock and roll.  And just so I don't sound completely like a right-winged nutjob, Ted Nugent's conservative predictability is every bit as tiresome as its liberal counterpart.

It got me thinking about Bruce Sprinsteen and his Born In The USA era, expertly covered by this blog last month.  After President Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan brought the country back to conservative values.  While some tend to look back at this era with rose colored glasses, the truth is, for many, this was when the gap between the haves and the have-nots got larger.  Bruce Springsteen didn't like what he saw and wrote albums like Nebraska and Born In The USA to highlight the struggles of the American dream that Bruce thought Reagan was ignoring.  That's true rebellion.  When Reagan campaigned in New Jersey in September of 1984 he said "America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about."  A few days later Bruce responded "The President was mentioning my name the other day, and I kinda got to wondering what his favorite album musta been. I don't think it was the Nebraska album. I don't think he's been listening to this one."  Now that's a rebel!  Bruce would later return to these rebellious roots, 20 years later when George W. Bush was president.  But by that point, it wasn't rebellion, it was simply the norm in rock music, and therefore it didn't carry the same weight.  But as long as their is someone out there fed up with what they see in the world, and willing to pick up a guitar and fight against it, rock and roll will never die.  For now though, it's just very very quiet.