Becoming rock ‘n’ roll

Fidelbogan wrote an article recently entitled, Becoming ambient. I voiced several objections which still stand. But there’s something deeper and musical I’ve had to burrow down into and now wish to express, which drives me to disagree so vehemently with becoming politically ‘ambient’ as he puts it when it comes to speaking about hypergamy.

am·bi·ent   adjective

1. Being of the surrounding area or environment: The tape recorder picked up too many ambient noises. The temperature in the display case was 20° lower than the ambient temperature.

2. Completely surrounding; encompassing: the ambient air.

3. Creating a certain reaction or mood, often a subconscious one, by being wherever people tend to be: ambient advertising on a shopping cart.

4. Pertaining to or noting sounds that create a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere.

5. Pertaining to or noting close and constant social contact and communication fostered by the Internet or the use of digital devices: social-networking sites that enable ambient intimacy and awareness.

Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t ambient like Brian Eno’s music. It’s the opposite.

Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t background. Rock ‘n’ Roll is in your face, bombastic and unapologetic.

Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn’t hide or merge in.

In fact it actively seeks to stand out, to be heard and seen, boldly.

Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn’t censor itself or hold back words for fear of offending, but is often deliberately provocative.

Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn’t try to be sophisticated or overly intellectual, strategic and planned. It’s raw and unpretentious, spontaneous and some say primal.

Great Rock ‘n’ Roll has changed the cultural landscape time after time. Great Rock ‘n’ Roll speaks to every basic human emotion – longing and desire, sadness and loss, whimsy and madness; but not defeat and definitely not calm acceptance of the status quo.

If need be Rock ‘n’ Roll says fuck you and fuck your shit. Repeatedly.

Rock ‘n’ Roll is almost entirely quintessentially male.

It is perhaps the greatest modern artistic and political melding of two potent cultural forces – Black African and Anglo-Celtic, fired in the kiln of 20th century America, lost and subjugated by commercial forces to retreat for a time, then found again, cherished,  resurrected and polished by English musicians who re-imported it to the USA during the last great Western cultural revolution – the 60s. The rest, as they say, is history.

I’m thinking of some great rockers in their heyday – from Chuck Berry through to Johnny Rotten and Kurt Cobain, Jerry Lee Lewis through to Joey Ramone,  Little Richard and Gene Vincent through to Frank Zappa, Marilynn Manson and Eminem.

Would any of them today balk at discussing any aspect of feminism, women, hypergamy, disposable niggerhood, alienation from family, culture, mainstream politics and nationhood that concerned them? I doubt it.

They all got through to masses of people with their message and changed things socially forever despite seemingly swimming against the prevailing cultural tide.

Chuck Berry said in effect, “Fuck you, I’m gonna play with white musicians and to white audiences AND I’m gonna whip up sexual frenzy, too”.

Johnny Rotten said, “Fuck royalty and any class system of privilege.”

Kurt Cobaine said, “It’s better to burn out than fade away.”

Jerry Lee Lewis said, “Screw you record companies. I’m gonna write my own songs.”

Joey Ramone said  “It’s about being an individual and going against the grain, and standing up and saying ‘This is who I am’.”

Little Richard said “I don’t think you have to be effeminate to be sensitive”

Gene Vinent said, “I’m a crack shot and I’ve won medals for shooting. But I don’t think I could shoot a person.”

Frank Zappa said, “Without deviation progress is not possible.”

Marylyn Manson said, “My goal isn’t to make money, it’s to try and survive and make a point.”

Eminem said, “You don’t get another chance. Life is no Nintendo game.”

It waxes and wanes in popularity somewhat as producers, artists and public connect and lose each other. Yet it remains, constantly present and widespread as it has done for 60 years now.

It is everywhere – on the radio and TV, in the malls and stadiums, on our smartphones and media players, in our schools and offices, clubs and parks. In millions of heads and hearts.

And here’s the thing.

Rock ‘n’ Roll is the ubiquitous background of all our lives.

Rock ‘n’ Roll is ambient.


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