Rock ‘n’ Roll Rewind: An Introduction

4 Nov

“Don’t tell me you guys have never gotten the Led out!”

In an early scene of Richard Linklater’s supremely entertaining School of Rock, Jack Black (playing a subtle variation of Jack Black) chastises his prep school protégés for not being familiar with Led Zeppelin–or any rock band, for that matter. While recently re-watching the movie, I felt a little like one of the scolded students myself. Although I smiled goofily at the montages set to “Roadrunner” or “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” and nodded in approval at Black teaching from a blackboard laden with essential punk bands, as the film went on, I felt increasingly (and painfully) aware of a huge blind spot of my own.

Ladies and gentlemen, I know hardly anything about classic rock.

It’s not that, like the kids in the movie, I don’t know these bands, but that I don’t know them anywhere near well enough. Of course I have enough Zeppelin on my iPod to get by, but it’s frankly a little embarrassing to be familiar with only their hits. If I don’t have IV or Houses of the Holy, have I ever really “gotten the Led out?” Something tells me a Zeppelin acolyte wouldn’t think so. And it doesn’t end there. Who’s NextExile on Main Street. Are You Experienced? The Dark Side of the Moon. These are just a few of the classic albums not in my possession.

So why haven’t I ever familiarized myself with these rock ‘n’ roll behemoths? I guess when it came to the classic stuff, I was always just a little more interested in the pop end of the spectrum. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and anything Spector-related were more clearly an influence on the indie music of the 2000s, and therefore more exciting to me. And when I started “broadening my horizons,” punk seemed like the next logical step; after all, as Seymour Stein once noted, the Ramones more or less sounded like a faster version of The Beach Boys. So I went from there.

(I am, of course, oversimplifying the entire narrative of popular music. The line between pop and rock in the 60s was, at best, a tenuous one, and, as Black’s board illustrates in the image above, punk was born as much from hard rock as anything else. In other words, I get that it’s all of a piece, but this is not the place where I attempt to sort all that out.)

Friends, I realize the error of my ways. I want to become familiar with what I’ve been missing all these years. And I could silently familiarize myself with these albums while pretending I’ve been listening to them all along, but hey, wouldn’t it be great to document it all on my pop culture blog? So my reason for confessing all these rock sins is this: I’m proposing a Nothing Delivered feature called “Rock ‘n’ Roll Rewind.” The idea is that I spend some time each month listening to a classic album I should already know (but don’t) and write about it. I’ll be trying in this feature, as I always have, to continue putting together the pieces of The Great Pop Culture Puzzle, but I’ll also be giving my genuine impressions of the albums in and of themselves. I will treat each album with due reverence, of course, but I obviously have no room to feign any sort of expertise, so the articles will be a blend of the subjective and objective.

I’ll start with The Rolling Stones’ Aftermath. Next month I’ll tackle some Zeppelin–it’s up to my readers which album. What else should I be listening to? Let me know.

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2 Responses to “Rock ‘n’ Roll Rewind: An Introduction”

  1. codymcdevitt November 21, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    The White Album, by the Beatles.
    Rumours, Fleetwood Mac.
    Aqualung, Jethro Tull
    Harvest, Neil Young

    You’re off to a good start though!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Intro to Classic Rock « Coast to Coast - November 4, 2012

    […] respectable songwriter, Adam Sandlin, recently acknowledged a cultural blindspot of his – a musical genre known as classic rock. I was in disbelief, so I decided to create this post to share how I feel about classic rock before […]

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