So you ask, Kelly, why your obsession over rock’n’roll? Good question and only a psychotherapist (that’s really three words put together, but that’s for another day) can really dig out the underlying reason. My superficial answer is that I have great musical desire but it’s suppressed by a lack of talent, so the only instrument I ever learned to play was the radio. My brother Mike can play the guitar pretty good, but other than that, there is no musical talent in my family. My brother Rusty works for an aptitude testing company and they did an aptitude test on me. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I have no musical aptitude they said. I could have told them that without their testing. So I play the radio.
Rock’n’roll has a beat that I like. It makes things move. It tells stories. Stories that don’t always involve a cheating girlfriend who torches my truck. That’d be country. I gotta admit, some country songs sound pretty good lyric-wise, but then there’s that monotonous country beat. Put it to a rock beat and you’d have a good song. The Eagles are proof of that. Heck, even the Beatles (“Rocky Raccoon”) and Rolling Stones (“Wild Horses”) did some “country” songs. But they are rockers, so the songs rock too.
Most of my Top 100 Rock Songs of All Time tell a story. Some are just great, hard driving rockers, but generally the songs tell a story. Like “Back In The USSR” and “Satisfaction”, both of which I have previously explored in this column. A lot of songs tell social commentary, like Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” or the Stories “Brother Louie.” One day I may write the column about those songs, but you’ve got the point, I like rock that tells a story.
So do I like rap? Nope. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not opposed to rap, I just don’t care for it. I will note that apparently young men like to hear their rap really loud. I don’t care for opera, country (already dissed it), jazz, blues even though it’s the grandfather of rock or pretty much anything but rock. Can rock and rap be fused together?
Blondie had the first rock song to feature rap and do anything on the charts. It was “Rapture” and it was a funky song about an alien coming to earth and eating everything up. It went to #1 in 1981, but that was after The Sugarhill Gang did “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979 that, while not the first rap song, is considered the song that popularized rap, or hip-hop as it was known then. I like “Rapture” was a weird song. Debbie Harry did a shout out to Grandmaster Flash and Fab Five Freddie in the lyrics, so they were invited to appear in the video, but in true Dylan fashion, Grandmaster Five didn’t show and didn’t even leave a message. At least they didn’t send Patti Smith in their place. And how in the world did Grandmaster Five get into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame before Chicago, ELO or Cheap Trick?