I am 16 years old and I wish I was 55. Knowing that I am stuck living, confined, in the 21st century sucks. I look back to the age of bellbottom jeans and psychedelic design and shrooming on rooftops and of pure, unadulterated rock and roll with sad reminiscence. I want to follow grateful dead in a rusted Volkswagen bus with its pale leather seats and shining window frames. I want to laugh with a crowd of thousands as Mick Jagger dances across the stage with colorful antics. I want to experience the intense intimacy of Zeppelin’s piercing electric guitar bursting into an explosive flurry of drums and harmonica and bass.
At night after school, after work, after the artificial life that I have been burdened to live… for a fleeting instant, under the shine of the stars and the brilliant moonlight I listen to three songs. And I feel alive. No other moment in time feels the same as when Jimmy Page plays the climactic solo in the second minute through of Zeppelin’s Tangerine. No other time can I taste pure elation so powerful that it is tangible than in Bowie’s “Is There Life on Mars”. Never do I truly feel the world and the people and the hatred and untamed emotion as when hearing George Harrison Crying “I don’t know,… I. don’t. know”.
Rock and Roll outsteps all societal boundaries. It creates a black hole that sucks you in and sends you free falling into a fourth dimension. Modern popular music no longer showcases musical talent or a life message, it is simply a contest as to which artist loves sex the most. I have watched Coldplay evolve from “Yellow” on one of their earliest albums, to “Sky Full of Stars” released in 2015 and it is painful to see the whimsical acoustic talent wasted on a repeating techno beat just to cater to society’s new love of all things artificial. Popular music is no longer affiliated with statements about equality and life and human rights like Cat Stevens “Peace Train”; Instead the modern generation is fixated on music that is demeaning and repetitive. The funky dance music that was fun and light and exciting has evolved from “Brick House” to “This is what you came for”; from boogieing to grinding. In 1966 the top song was “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles and in 2016 songs at the top were “Work” and “Cheap Thrills”. Pop may create a fleeting excitement but classic rock gives you an unalloyed high no ecstasy can instigate.
Reminiscing upon the good old tie-dye, patched jean, long haired days; the 60’s and the birth of rock and roll, the 70’s and its curation and the 80’s and its slow transformation creates a nostalgia so powerful it’s depressing. I never really understood rock and roll’s imminent death until one of its icons, David Bowie, passed away. I remember I was a freshman when I heard the news. It was sad because it made everything so real. Because I had always imagined experiencing his music in its live glory and now the opportunity was lost to me forever. I went to school with a curated tribute to David Bowie playlist to play for my Physical Education class. On the second song, one of the boys paused “Heroes” in its prime and tuned the radio to a scratchy recording of “Fight song”. Everyone sang along. Everyone but me.
It’s not this generation’s fault that Classic rock is dying. It’s simply evolution taking its course; music has evolved from instrumental to technical, just as our earth has in the past few decades. It is painful but inevitable. We lost so many acclaimed artists in 2016 alone. David Bowie. Glenn Frey. Paul Kanter. Maurice White. Keith Emerson. Prince. Leonard Cohen. George Michael. The dwindling death of the most famous movement of all times. And all we do is watch as these artists never recognised by the teens and young adults slowly fade away until nothing is left but soulless CD’s and remastered recordings of days gone by. We simply don’t have the ability to keep the era going; our mindset as a unit has changed too much. All we can do is preserve the beaten old Hendrix records and Beach Boys albums and hope that 2016 was not the year that the music died.