What happened to rock music?

During 2016 we also lost Eagles leader Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane guitaristfifth Beatle George Martin, Maurice White, Genius of Earth, Wind and Fire, prog rock maniac/E in ELP Keith Emerson, Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore, Alan Vega nightmare machine, Vocalist of King Crimson / L in ELP Greg Lake, true bizarre visionary Leon Russell, and, more recently, heir to Freddie Mercury’s kingdom, George Michael. If you were to expand the category a little further, there would be the second greatest (but most literary) songwriter of his generation Leonard Cohen; poor but proud Merle Haggard’s Poet Laureate; experimental assistant Tony Conrad; the godfather alternative country Guy Clark; bluegrass virtuoso Ralph Stanley; and dap queen Sharon Jones. If you had to sum up what happened in rock in 2016, you would say: people died.


If you were a reasonably healthy rocker who released a reasonably successful record in the 1960s or 1970s and had yet to write a book, chances are you wrote a book or had one written. on you in 2016. As the publishing industry has become more vulnerable, it has become more skittish. Established names with an established audience – preferably older audiences, who spend money on things like books – have become increasingly valuable. After the success of Bob Dylan Chroniclesthat of Keith Richards Lifeand Patti Smith just children, publishers are hot for baby boomer nostalgia, while musicians are equally hot for cashing checks. In 2016, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Collins, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Robbie Robertson, Johnny Marr, and Sebastian Bach all released memoirs — in a few cases, they even wrote them too.

But, with the exception of Springsteen’s cheerful memoir, a sense of resentment permeates these books that are meant to serve as well-deserved victory laps. The desire to bask in glory turns out to be inseparable from the feeling that credit hasn’t been given where it’s due. This curious mix of complacency and resentment – let’s call it baby boomer revenge – was reflected in the politics of 2016, which was defined by a reactionary nostalgia that led to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, two catastrophic events that occurred over the expressed opposition of younger generations.

This rock is kind of evil should come as no surprise in the case of Mike Love, who has become the most notorious villain in Beach Boys lore. love good vibes is, despite its title, bitter, angry, cynical, and very blunt about its main purpose, which is to correct the widely held perception that love is an asshole. The memoirs claim again and again that Love was the hero of the Beach Boys and that everyone else (except perhaps Carl Wilson, who is portrayed as having been childish and naive) was a thug. Love treats the late 1960s — which is the period we’re really talking about when we talk about the “60s” — as a bewildering period of cultural decay. Love has little patience for the monsters that surrounded Brian Wilson as he was doing animal sounds and worked on Smile. For Love, the Beach Boys were a quintessentially “American” band, devoted to surfing, rides and burger stands – something Brian’s sonic experiments didn’t convey.

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