Monday, April 26, 2010

Who are the true rock-n-roll immortals?

Yesterday morning, my daughters and I were sharing a rare moment of leisure together, and the subject somehow drifted to Elvis.

"Dad, I heard he died on the toilet," offered my ten-year-old.

"Didn't he eat a lot of bacon? Like really a lot of bacon?" queried the fifteen-year-old. I wanted to ask her if she had a problem with people who eat a lot of bacon, because, you know, I'll blend bacon into a smoothie.

I found it interesting that my daughters each had her own impression of the King of Rock-n-Roll, but not the one most of us older folks have. He was a true pioneer—someone who inspired artists for generations, yet he represented nothing more than a bloated caricature to them.

So many other musicians fall into that category; people who define a genre, yet receive no credit for influencing the music our kids love. For every Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Jonas Brother or Miley Cyrus, there's a CĂ©line Dion, Michael Bolton, Donny Osmond or Debbie Gibson who isn't getting his or her due. Hang on a second...I almost forgot. I can't stand any of them. In fact, if I was forced to either listen to Michael Bolton sing or eat fiberglass insulation to survive, let's just say I'd have an energy-efficient lower intestine.

My co-workers and I have a long-running discussion regarding which rock artists have remained fresh and relevant for two or more generations. This wouldn't include those who still perform on the casino circuit, but haven't had any new material since the mullet was called the "bi-level," like Def Leppard, Journey, Kansas, Foreigner, Pat Benetar or Tom Jones.

Nor does the list recognize those who revolutionized music, but weren't around long enough to span two generations or more, or simply didn't evolve much, such as Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Janis Joplin, the Ramones, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Chuck Berry and The Cure.

From my middle-aged, white guy perspective, here is my ever-changing docket of rock-n-roll immortals: The Beatles, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Tom Waits, U2, REM, Prince, Madonna, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks, Sting, Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Beck, Pink Floyd, Eddie Vedder, The Beastie Boys, Bruce Springsteen and Metallica.

And I'm open for suggestions...

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