In an effort to cope with the stress of our various housing dramas, work-related nonsense, and baby-preparation, I’ve been listening to a lot of classic rock on Spotify. I know what you’re thinking, and no, this is not a cry for help. I literally don’t know about and don’t want to take the time to research newer bands that might be worth listening to. The last time I tried that, I was disappointed to learn that Beach House, The Antlers, and Perfume Genius are the same band, in terms of sound.
I grew up listening to a lot of what used to be called classic rock, except I recently heard a Stone Temple Pilots song on a classic rock station, so I’m not sure if that label still holds. My parents have a pretty sweet record collection — the only inheritance my brothers and I will likely know. I remember hiding out in our living room in the 6th grade, listening to Beatles records over and over while braiding and beading hemp necklaces (this is not a joke). When we found out that our dad had snuck into a Jimi Hendrix concert when he was 16, we were scandalized and downright awed that our dad could ever have been that cool.
But as always, my catalog of musical knowledge has enormous gaps, so I’m trying to fill them in. A few thoughts in bulleted form:
- Aerosmith has been around for 40 years and, according to Wikipedia, has only put out 14 studio albums. That’s, what, ~160 songs total? Over 40 years? Is that even allowed? Jesus. And as far as I can tell, only two of them were any good (“Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion”), and the latter might only sound good to me because it so closely ties to the opening scene in Dazed and Confused. I digress: Aerosmith, man. What a joke.
- Oh god for the longest time I thought the Rolling Stones were also a joke, all ridiculous reunion tours and Microsoft commercials. I had no idea that the reason they got so big and famous is that way, way back in the day, they used to be really really good! Stunning realization.
- How do I tell Pandora that even thought I asked for an Elton John station, I’d rather claw my eyes out than listen to the Eagles, Phil Collins or Billy Joel? That needs to be written into their algorithm somehow.
- Related: I also used to think Elton John was a joke because when I was growing up we knew him primarily for soundtracking Disney movies and the grotesque Princess Di’ed version of “Candle In the Wind.” Fact! He’s amazingly talented!
- Things I did not know, David Bowie Edition: “During the tour Bowie’s observation of two seminal American proto-punk artists led him to develop a concept that would eventually find form in the Ziggy Stardust character: a melding of the persona of Iggy Pop with the music of Lou Reed, producing ‘the ultimate pop idol.'” I mean, obviously I knew about Ziggy Stardust, just not the inspiration piece.
- Things I did not know, Joni Mitchell Edition: Not only did Joni Mitchell and Neil Young both contract polio during a 1950s epidemic in Canada, she also claims to suffer from an apparently-fake disease called Morgellons. The lesson here is to never fall down the Wikipedia rabbit hole after midnight, because these are the things you learn.
- I reject the underlying premise of the Beatles-Stones debate. That said…Beatles.
Recommendations for overlooked classic rock albums — indeed, any music made before 1980 — welcome in the comments.