May 20th, 2009
12:51 PM ET

Saving rock 'n' roll

E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt is troubled by the state of rock ‘n’ roll. A couple months ago he made a speech at the SXSW festival about “A Crisis of Craft,” in which musicians aren’t woodshedding enough, don’t know their history and are adrift in a music business that doesn’t know how to develop them. You can read the complete talk here.

It’s an ironic situation. Today’s musicians and music fans have access to more material than ever - there are more songs in the iTunes store than could be found in the world’s greatest record retailer back in the day. Sites such as function as one-stop music encyclopedias.

Moreover, rock ‘n’ roll has had hard times before, but then the Beatles or Ramones or Clash or Nirvana arrived and it awoke again.

So, what do you think? Does Van Zandt have a point? And what can – or should – be done?

Post your comments below or offer your own history at iReport.

- Todd Leopold, Entertainment Producer

Filed under: Music

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  1. penang

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  5. Matt Boland

    Steven is right on the money with his words. There just isn't much good music coming out right now, and what there is doesn't get the exposure that it deserves. Look around you...MTV has stopped playing music, even going so far as taking the "music television" out of its logo. Around the country, rock stations like WRXP are dying, in favor of news, sports, or other formats. And Lady Gaga? Justin Beiber? You've got to be kidding me. Note to talent relations and big label execs....THEY HAVE NO TALENT! Give me the rock stars of the 80's and 90's any day! Simply put, rock is dying, but if we tell the people involved in music that we want more talent and more exposure for that talent, it will live on.

    September 2, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. Psy-Ko

    The reports of it's death are greatly exaggerated! Just like the reports of Jeff Goldblum and Harrison Fords deaths it's a hoax by internet pranksters. Rock and Roll is alive and well! Thing is the beast known as R&R has morphed into a new being, it's not the same beast that it once was. It was once a huge beast that made it's presence known and wanted to shove itself in everyones face whether they liked it or not. Now R&R has aged a bit, it's matured and it's realized it doesn't have to be so "in your face" Instead of trying to sell out the huge arenas it's content with it's core following in small towns and small venues where it can meet and cultivate it's decendants. It's become a guru of sorts passing on all the knowledge to those coming up, and like every generation and every family there will be successes and failures. There will also be false prophets and posers just trying to cash in on the quick buck. They will fade away and the spirit of R&R will live on in those who learned their lessons well!

    July 2, 2009 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. maarten

    Who is the criminal here ...
    record companies, or the illigal downloaders... ??

    There are so many good bands that are not even heard of, why ...
    the record companies ...

    compare it to Oil companies, they want to protect their business to ...

    Well get along evolution, we will not progress by protecting a business, that's why thechology is working on evolution ... If the law, juridical system, and gouvernements are prtecting them , they are part of the problem ...

    The middle ages , the churche prohebited people to learn to read and write to ...

    Conclusion .. we're getting back to the middle ages ?? 🙂


    June 19, 2009 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tom Bowman

    Rock hasn't been the same since the 1980's. late 1950's thru mid-1980's had some passionate artists that entertained without being offensive – they might be edgy, but generally not profane nor offensive.
    Mush of the best music was about Love, Ballads, or just celebrating life. Yes, I am old enough to remember the Ed Sullivan show presenting the Beatles, I've been to concerts for Dave Clark Five (with most of the girl fans screaming senselessly), Jimi Hendrix (Red Rocks), Vanilla Fudge, Fleetwood Mac, Yes (with Wakeman), Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I remember the raw elemental energy of Richie Vallee (La Bamba – the 'B' side of Donna), The Animals, Zombies, Janice Joplin, Santana, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Led Zepplin, Beatles, Deep Purple, many 'Motown' artists, all the various versions of Chicago – all innovative and with lyrics you could share with a child without offense.
    Today, I like Trent Reznor's sound – but the lyrics get inappropiate, Rap has a good beat, but bad attitude – it all begins to sound 'the same'. Today it's all about RIAA, no love left, no joy, no sincerety.
    Check out almost any 'oldies' from 1960-1980, it's not simply about nostalgia – it's about catchy artistry, upbeat lyrics or even sad ballads (nobody wanted to shoot cops, or express obscenities). More recent artists that still do Rock might include U2, Police, Rush, but stuff like American Idol is just a cheap way to produce profits with a minimum of effort or investment – a couple of cameras, like most media today – no scripts, no plots, 'reality shows', Pro Sports – all just requiring a few cameras, no rehersals, not much editing, but more commercials than ever (even rolling across the bottom of our TV's during the shows...).
    Rock and Roll basically just 'sold out' to the easy profits of selling anything that can be recorded (and fining folks for zillions for 'illegal' downloads, etc.).

    June 19, 2009 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jason

    I think it's totally ridiculous to suggest that people in original bands start playing cover songs, if you're already working on your on sound why would you then try to reverse engineer someone else's sound? There are tons of cover bands playing out in bars all over the land and there always will be, and that's fine, but in no way is that going to save rock music. It seems more like what he's talking about is purely a matter of taste, the music he may think sounds lost is the same music someone else digs above all others. Also, the idea of record companies not spending money to "develope" artists is to me a non-point to even consider, whatever happened to an artist or band personally working to further their music on their own, unconcerned about their lack of stylist, marketing reps or pr campaigns! It all reeks of emptiness from the start if that's where you're starting from. To complain about the availability of digital recording software and digital distribution, now available to anyone wanting to create and upload their own music for anyone in the world to listen to, is frankly just elitist and old fashioned! Recording software is becoming easier and easier to use and cheaper to buy, making it now possible for anyone with the desire and the creativity to record their very own album, then release that album for free from their very own NetLabel, totally bypassing the antique idea that you need a record company to pay thousands of dollars to record your music and market it to the masses, this method may not get you on commercial radio or the cover of rolling stone or mtv but it is a great way to discover the unique music that might just be waiting within that kid that has never had a music lesson has never played a cover song but has a burning desire to express themselves through sound. Without the record industry in the way the world of creative thought and musical expression is free to get completely lost in this vast wilderness of sound, who knows what new forms might be discovered!

    June 19, 2009 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. D.J. Krankz

    Van Zandt was absolutely right. Nobody is buying because the product sucks and record companies are only backing the proven "dinosaur" money-makers and bands that by-and-large are a bunch of homo-repressed, emo type, mama's boys whining about how their daddies abandoned them and their mommies spanked them as a child. Rock-N-Roll is based in sex, drugs, anger and occasionally love, COULD SOMEONE PLEASE REMEMBER THAT.

    June 2, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dan

    steve is totally right the music is garbage
    i wish one old band like credence,or the stones
    or any 60,s
    or 70.s band would get together
    and put another great album out like let it bleed
    or sgt peppers and prove rock isnt dead
    because is it going six feet under with the music today

    June 1, 2009 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. Keith

    They changed the format of a popular radio station (again) in Dallas. It is now playing a lot of "current" music which to me sounds like a bunch of cry-babies. I made a comment to my wife when we were in the car listening to the new format – "your're listening to the new 93.3" – "all whine – all the time".

    Grow a pair!

    Keith –

    May 26, 2009 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dee

    Steven is right about alot of the roots of music dying down. I dont know if its the sign of the economy or the demise of the way we were use to buying music. Everything is on the net you can hear anything for free anytime. Regardless of what record companys are doing making youtube remove most music copyrighted. It still gets played or listened to by millions over the net. It is rare really for people to go out to a" music store" ( are there any left? )(no more Tower and i heard Virgin went down too) I know i havent gone no further then walmart to look at cds. Steven says the new musicians need to go back to the roots and learn from their heroes, but most people are learning that the business is even more competitive and less profitable then it ever was .. its more about who you know and perhaps even who is getting on those (horrible) Idol shows. The only good thing that has come from those Idol shows is Susan Boyle if you ask me. I am combining alot of whats wrong into one comment.
    The main thing is new musicians perhaps are not looking too far back to learn because they are trying to find ways that their craft will become profitable and or listened to. Youtube is the new medium. There isnt persay music stores .. and if you make it big you can make money on tours. But in this economy who can afford to go to concerts.
    Theres so much to say about this subjects and its many branches of what is wrong with this days music. But it stems down to economy and progress over internet. And what is profitable? After all it takes money to make money even for poor starving musicians. the 60s 70s and 80s were the best times of music im just glad i got to live them.

    May 26, 2009 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. Charles S

    Steven is just stating an obvious fact that has gone unsaid since the beginning of the 2000's. The record companies got greedy, alienated a lot of people by raising the price of cd's, shafting a lot of real artists out of contracts and continually developing acts that have no imagination, skill or musical spirit. Pushing out over-processed homogenized "music."
    I think we are one good singer/songwriter away from a change in the music world, but at this point these true artists are being ignored by the "quick buck" politics that the record companies are living by.
    The music world needs to pause, take stock, and realize that you have to have roots in the past in order to successfully move into the future. You have to have an understanding of where the music came from in order to move it in a positive direction, not just be a pretty face, who's voice can be "auto tuned" to sound good.
    We have no new Springsteen's, Dylan's, Cat Stevens', or Rolling Stones because anybody with true talent is being ignored, and without these types of artists the life will be snuffed out of the music industry.

    May 25, 2009 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Leslie

    I am so glad that someone has finally spoke out about the state of Rock & Roll. The music world today isn't based on talent at all. It's based on fad. There are very few songs/bands that come out today that the artists actually use their own music or instruments, for that matter. It's just computer generated & stolen choruses from Real Rock & Roll artists. Used to be that you had to "Pay your Dues" in Rock & Roll. Now, if you "Make" a good enough song..That makes alot of money, and is "Nasty" enough..You win a Grammy! The artists of today have Destroyed the music industry. It's not about Quality..It's about the All Mighty Dollar! Please, someone, anyone in the Rock & Roll Industry..Bring back the days of the rock band that has Consistency & Originality..And most of all Longevity! The only saving grace for us Rock & Rollers..The numerous 80's band touring today. Thank God alot of those guys are still around..And sound Great! Long Live Rock & Roll!

    May 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Donna

    I have been a rock and roll chick since I was just a mere toddler... My uncle was in a local rock band (Flesh & Blood) and I was at every show. Music was always a HUGE part of my life, and at 47 years ol, I have discovered that I now can't stand most of the bands I USED to love, because they have thrown their politics into the mix. As soon as they started doing THAT – I stopped buying their records and going to their concerts. Musicians have fans of each party so when they start spewing their political (and usually ridiculous) take on Politics, they have ruined it for themselves. If I wanted to go to a political rally, I would, but when I pay $100 or more for a ticket to hear my favorite band play, the last thing I want to hear is their view on politics...Especially when I know I had to work hard for the money it cost for that ticket, while they are sitting on their piles of millions, while looking for every possible tax loophole they can find... The BonJovis and Springsteens of this world will be putting themselves out of business, because they don't know enough to just shut up and sing....

    May 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Tom

    While we'd like to think that music has infinite possibilities, the fact is that there are only a limited number of progressions that sound pleasing to the ear. There's only so much you can do in the vein of rock that hasn't already been done. People point to rock legends and ask why it isn't happening today, but where is the "Born to Run" or "Brown Sugar" of 2009 out of those very artists that, in anyone, should be capable of churning it out?

    Craft has something to do with it yes, and AutoTune software has made some people extraordinarily lazy with their singing, but the simple fact is that there are only so many combinations of the kinds of three and four chord progressions that sound good to people that we can come up with. I fear that the best of the genre has already been done.

    May 24, 2009 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  18. Bill

    Artists can throw random colors on a canvas and call it art. Musicians spend years recording an album and people want it for free. How does that make sense to you people??????

    May 22, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  19. maskr8

    Thankx Steven ,for continuing* to make a difference.
    I adored your speech at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Induction for the were hysterical , truthful and endearing..

    NOW LISTEN UP MUSIC FANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Go get ****ARENA ****
    Brand New Elpee by the brilliant *genius Todd Rundgren...
    Rock N Roll with a Conscience....
    *************************************.Wake Up People!

    May 22, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  20. JCATL

    If you only look to the top 40 mainstream, to which BS and the E Street Band belong, you will find that yes, R&R is in a death spiral.

    If you're willing to dig deeper and look for smaller indie bands there is a ton of good music out there. It's not all original but SVS is the one urging bands to "learn covers" and copy successful bands.

    May 22, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Rock Critic

    I can't believe it's finally been said!! I have said this for a few years now and my "take" on it is...the current group of musicians out there cannot:
    #1 play instruments
    #2 have a thought that can be put down in words and
    #3 experienced anything like the "rock revolution"!!

    May 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |

    THANK YOU STEVIE! ANYONE who disagrees with what Stevie says is in denial......True music comes from the heart.......Music is art...........

    May 22, 2009 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  23. Bill

    What happened to real musicianship? Musicians used to have to know how to play their instruments. Now they just cut and paste everything together and play the songs half assed live. This is partly due to the record companies urgency to get the albums out and also the producers and engineers are to blame. Musicians need to step up and say enough is enough. If you truly are a musician you will not sacrifice your talent. You wouldn't let your music be cut and pasted together.

    A big problem now is no one has integrity in the music business. That goes for the "musicians", the record execs, the promoters, the agents etc.

    When are people going to realize that this homogenized crap you call music isn't music and it isn't art!? It's cookie-cutter cannon fodder!

    May 22, 2009 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  24. Mike in PDX

    I think Steven is right on the money. I've been paying my dues for decades now, and I know that it is better to be lucky than good. Entertainment is definitely a craft, no matter what form it takes. I hear better music at Sunday night blues jams at a bar walking distance from my house than I do when I pay a hundred bucks to catch some touring act, whether it is a bunch of guys my parents' age who can still make a buck, even though they are 30 years past their prime, or some hyped up bunch of overproduced schlock that the "industry" tells us that we should consume.

    The fact of the matter is that if you want to hear good rock and roll, it is getting harder to find. The stadium shows are not what rock and roll is about. OK, so you can call it R.O.C.K. or whatever, but it doesn't come wthin a mile of resembling a fIREHOSE show in 1987 with some dive bar so full that it takes 10 minutes to fight your way to the bar and you almost pee in your pants because you don't want to miss anything. I use that as an example because they DID play covers. I have nothing against anyone who wants to put their own heartfelt songs out there, I have plenty of my own, but you still have to learn how to do it for it to go over the way you want it to. Ask sir Paul about Hamburg, they didn't come out of a vacuum, they played cover songs and did the "show" the same way it was being done in tents a hundred years before!

    Corporations don't give a rodent's behind about rock and roll, and if you DO, then you have to support your local musicians and maybe it will come back. Sure, there are lots of good bands and individuals out there putting their product out on the internet. Check out my friend Christian Beshore ( if you want the real thing, all stripped down to the raw essence. The problem is that he can't afford to get to the places that want him to play because he doesn't have the corporate backing!

    May 22, 2009 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  25. joec

    There is so much white noise with everyone being able to create their own CD. The whole situation sucks from Clear Channel owning 1200 radio stations to a single song costing at least a half a million dollar in payola just to get it played on the radio. It really is a mess. I know things have a way of sorting themselves out but Steve is right. A lot of the new bands don't have a clue on where the music came from and what's really sad is I don't think they care or even realized they should care.

    May 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  26. David C

    Rock 'n Roll is dead, Punk is dead, blah blah blah. It's far from it, from what Ive seen it's actually doing quite well, just not in the eyes of the record execs who want to see bank rolls not creativity. Everything has gone underground. Arenas are not the place to see the best bands in the world, it's dive bars and small clubs. DIY is now the new major label development. Thousands of bands tour, and it takes bands who road dog to separate themselves from the pack of bands that were never meant to make it. American Idol? Please! Anybody can sing nowadays especially with digital tools like Autotune. Rap is not to blame, it's the major labels for not embracing the internet. It's Clear Channel and Ticket Master. Radio is a dead format and who wants to pay upwards of 70 dollars to see U2 when you can drop 15 bucks at a local venue and see a band that will give you a show that you will never forget, along with a personal interaction with the band. If you like them you buy their merch and most of the time that money goes directly back into the band not into the pockets of some overweight 50 year old record executive from California, who had no idea what is art and what is fluff. If you get your music from the mainstream then it' s already too late, your music is dead, bury it. But those of us who dwell in the underground circuits are able to provide a modest living for ourselves, in combination with having regular jobs when not on the road. It's about the music not the money. Money will destroy your art. We are anti-rock stars and we hate American idol, most rap music, and hope the record industry collapses under it's own obesity.

    May 21, 2009 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Carl

    I've played rock n' roll since 1963, and written music for nearly that long. What puzzles and somewhat irks me is that strong, discernible melodies have disappeared from rock/pop music. Where are the Lennon & McCartneys, the Billy Joels, the Elton Johns of today? Maybe we can blame rap for this, but I don't think that people expect rap to be melodic–just rhythmic and, in my opinion, a musical format for less-talented people of all races–another sign of the watering down of talent. And it's worse in country music where almost every song is a plagiarism of a previous hit, ala Taylor Swift. Tupper Saussy, where are you?

    May 21, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  28. RonM

    There still is good music out there. Radio is not what it used to be. There was a time when radio did not play the same old stuff over and again. The problem is they have a play list and stick to it. One reason I purchased satellite radio was I thought I'd be free of the same old stuff. Turns out a lot of it is the same old stuff, but without commercials. The one thing I really like about satellite radio is the selection. There is something for everyone, at least as far as musical genre is concerned. However, I do hate that it is necessary to pay for what was once free. Because of what local radio (I live in a horrible radio area) forces on me personally, I felt I had almost no choice. I could hook up the iPod, but I hate having to drag it around each time I get in the car. I realize this is small compared to most problems facing the world today. I do think music is evolving. There was a great deal of garbage back in the day as well. How many albums were purchased because one or two songs were great (or you knew the artist and past material was good) and you found out the rest of it was not worth the price of the purchase? If today's technology were available back then do you think people would have purchased entire albums as they did? So much was bought back in the day because that was the only choice one had. There is a great deal more choice today. Whether it is music, news about the artist, etc. I agree there is a laziness about us today. We still expect the music to come to us as it once did. Now we have to find it. Technology did that to/for us. The bands and artists have strange names, dress/appear different, come from foreign places with strange names. Has that not always been the case? Some of it is darn good. You have to weed through more junk (to you or me) because so much more is available. I agree with the author above who said not to pee on a person's music because that may be all that person has (perhaps not as elegant, but...). Some say they don't write songs like they used to. That is true. But is that necessarily bad. How many enjoyed music for the sound of the music and found out later what the song was really about? I had to listen over and over (and sometimes still did not understand a word or a phrase) to get the words to a song memorized (I still don't know what a lot of it meant, if it was supposed to mean anything. Does there always have to be a meaning to a song?) Now you can look up the lyrics shortly after the music is released, if it is not available within the CD, etc. There is and has always been cheerful, sad, depressing, neutral messages in song. Some of the best music's story is really sad or depressing. Just because it is new does not mean it sucks. Just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it is that good music is in the ear of the listener.

    May 21, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Mr. White

    The music industry is a very sad place today. I agree in full with Van Zandt in that the industry has declined greatly. The problem is with the industry itself, and that every garage band can now produce CDs using simple computer programs with digitally enhanced tracks. Back in the day, artists had to be incredibly good just to record, and the sound on the record was 100% them, not some effect added in in Garage band. The direction the music industry is headed is deeply troubling to me, and I hope that it will improve, instead of continuing in the direction it is headed.

    May 21, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  30. sonic bat

    Nobody stands in front of people and just displays their talent anymore. It's all smoke and mirrors. Every seen Lindsey Buckingham stand on the stage by himself and do Big Love? Guitar Talent and a singer. Ever heard The Eagles sing Seven Bridges Road? It's like listening to angels. I'm so tired of fluffy music. Drum machines, people that can't sing – so the scream or dance or try to take your mind of their lack of talent with costumes and bare midriffs. I try to listen to the radio these days – but I always turn it off. It's all about looks, flash, and money. Eric Clapton and Peter Frampton were just teenagers when they blew us away with their guitars. I've not seen a Justin or a Jonas brother do THAT!

    May 21, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Pthomas

    I agree with allot that has been posted here. There is plenty of good music/rock out there. He may have to look beyond tv/Idol and mainstream radio. There are college stations and other public radio stations playing innovative, new interesting rock music. You have a some excellent younger bands out there like Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket, just to name some pretty straightforward rock (even southern rock) bands. I have been to tons of concerts and the Modest Mouse concert I saw was quite a stand out. But lets be honest these are not bands on MTV, top 40 radio, America Idol etc. Maybe Steven needs to look around more-music right now does not suck there is tons of great music being made...Black Keys, Ben Harper, Iron & Wine, Pete Yorn there is quite a list of quality musicians I could go on and on.....

    May 21, 2009 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  32. Eric

    You get what you pay for.

    It seems pretty clear that the problem is the money – or lack of it in the music business. Nobody (under the age of 40) expects to pay for music and they don't. Without getting sidetracked discussing record labels and their treatment of artists, the bottom line is there's less money in the business so quality musicians are less interested in putting in the time required to make good music.

    The myspace and iTunes immediacy have exacerbated this by enabling anyone to record and distribute their 'music', adding to the noise (no pun intended). But the lack of money available to real musicians is key to this problem.

    May 21, 2009 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  33. mike

    80's Heavy metal Will always be something i will talk about to my son & daugther .... I got to lived those days!! OHH good old memories !!

    Rock ON !!

    May 21, 2009 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  34. cog7085

    music is about whats going on around us and theres plenty and no bodys talking about it so the music suffers

    May 21, 2009 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  35. stinkytojo

    Everyone here has made some really good points. I feel that part of the reason that rock and roll, and most other music for that matter, is suffering is actually about looks. When did music become all about what you look like? Who cares? Why does it matter? I am a lover of all kinds of music but metal holds a special place in my heart because it's one of the only genres left where it doesn't matter if you are the ugliest thing ever born, you have bad clothes, etc., and the fans adore you anyway because of the MUSIC. The MUSIC should be the only thing that matters but the media and the public have become so obsessed with image, style, looks, and sensationalism that the music has gotten lost. Very sad.

    May 21, 2009 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  36. Chad Benekos

    Yes it's true.. there's much left to be desired these days in rock music but let's remember what happens when mediocre rock bands exhaust the public's attention. This is exactly the same senario that led to the last great movement in rock music: the grunge scene. There is a swell happening again and we all feel it. It's only a matter of time before the wave crashes. I've seen so many good bands on the underground scene lately it blows my mind. If you don't believe me check out bands like AUTOLUX, DURESS, THE PARSON REDHEADS, HUMANLAB.....
    they're out there.... you just have to look harder these days in your local scene because you won't find these bands in the mainstream. The mainstream is the gutter.

    May 21, 2009 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  37. Elijah

    Rock music does suck right now but this is the calm before the wonderful storm that will hit us and blow our minds away. Soon there will be a artist who will rise to lead and his music will define a generation. Much like Kurdt Cobain did in the 90's.

    With this kind of music environment actually might help more indie based artists as people look for quality music. I know that is what happened to me. I discovered many a great bands because of really bad music. I thank those terrible artists out there helping discover true art and talent.

    May 21, 2009 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  38. Bill

    I absolutely agree with Steven. Music sucks today! It's nothing but pre-fabricated crap that is packaged to sell as fast as possible. The record labels know that the bands today have a shelf life of about 6 months. The faster they can get the music out there, the band on tour and merchandise sold, the faster they can get a new band to take that band's place. Music is disposable now and it's a damn shame!

    The days of great bands like Metallica, AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd, Queen etc are gone. Now you have disposable crap like Under Oath, Paramour, My Chemical Romance, and any and every band on the Vans Warped Tour as well as Ozzfest. And of course don't forget all the homogenized rap and "country" bands out there. All of it is pop commercialism no matter how it's packaged.

    Music is no longer a form of expression but a form of commercialism taken to the nth degree. Of course the music business has always been about making money. There's no secret about that. However the difference is money was coupled with the development of a band. Now if the band isn't "tv ready" than the record company doesn't think that they are a viable product.

    Mtv has alot to do with the commercialism of bands. They made it okay to package a band based on looks first. To me that is a disgrace to not only the musicians that are talented enough to actually write great music but an insult to the fans that want to hear real music.

    Simon Cowell and all of American Idol are taking what Mtv has done to the most extreme. Great musicians can not be packaged or pre-fabricated. They are born and they eat, breath and live music 24 hours a day.

    MySpace has also fostered this mentality as well. By allowing "bands" (and I use that word very loosely) a vehicle to upload their music to the masses they have inundated us as listeners with "music" that is haphazardly put together not for quality's sake but for quantity. Now the bands that actually have something unique to say and take the time to write and record good music are swalloed up by the millions of subpar "musicians" on MySpace.

    Hopefully one day the world will wake up and realize that music is not just something that is disposable but something that permeates every facet of our lives. There is no where you can go and not hear music. It's up to us to decide if we want to be inundated by crap the rest of our lives or stand up and say enough is enough!

    May 21, 2009 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  39. Bob

    Steven is correct in that there does not seem to be as much "care" for the craft as in past decades. With technology, it's too easy to make a record (or band) that might have instant appeal but no staying power. Record companies too are at fault by not cultivating artists; there's that "instant" thing again. It' all revolves around money, I think; getting as much for as little as possible. Steven is right again about artists not having a sense of "history" when making records/CD's/downloads. Look at the (Rolling) Stones; steeped in 1930-1950's blues. They evolved incorporating that in their music. How many of today's artists do that? What to do?

    May 21, 2009 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
  40. Mojo Rainmaker

    There is some good music out there, but not much great music! I miss hearing new music that gives me goose bumps and pulls me emotionally into the song. At some point the industry"s focus went from making great music to making great profits & the music a byproduct.

    Artists that don't fit within that corporate marketing image just don't get the exposure anymore. Pair that with the ease in which every hack can make their own CD and promote it on the web and its like looking for a needle in a haystack to find new good music.

    On top of this is the fact that the USA has had 40 years of economic prosperity. We've gotten a bit lazy and satisfied. Rock, Blues, Punk need strong emotions. Something to rebel against and I just don't see that in todays society.

    Perhaps a positive out of the current economic crisis will be some good Rock and Roll.

    May 21, 2009 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  41. Steve

    The retail end of the music business has been ruined by the latest technology. The artists are feeling the pinch now. What really is killing rock and roll are groups forming that don't know how to play an instrument (rap). They get famous over night by speaking ebonic rhyme. The kids today love this stuff and I find it pathetic. I feel sorry for real musicians that know their trade and can't make a decent living from it due to mp3's and such. The "pop singers" of today never sing live but prefer to lip sync. I wonder why? Take them out of the studio and they stink. In the sixties a 45 would cost you a dollar, today you can download any song from Russia for 9cents. In time nothing will be made in America as we can't compete in this so called global economy. Autos, music, steel, electronics ect.

    May 21, 2009 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  42. kris carter

    Thank God I got to witness rock and roll the first time around. My albums kept me sane. Now, we are stuck on replay with nothing to look forward to and it kind of makes me sad to see all of the classic rockers still trying to rock with their delayed responses ... because I realize my own mortality. I took my 15 year old son to see Steve Miller Band last summer and when I closed my eyes it sounded right-like mountain honey. When I opened them, it wasn't right at all. Holy crap, it looked like it was my dad in Wrangler jeans. Hmmm...

    May 20, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  43. music man

    Richard Osborne said in his post, " I believe that rock music is first, an emotion, then a craft." This is the attitude that has led us into the artistic crisis that we find ourselves. In literature, the author must have mastered the language which they write. This is the technical aspect. In other words if an author does not have the technique to spell and form sentences, no one will read it.

    Music is the same way, the technique has to be solid in order for the listener to understand what emotion is being conveyed. I can't listen most "musicians" at a live event because they can't even match pitch. Sometimes they sing a half step off the pitch!!! Furthermore if a band can't keep good time, I don't want to hear it. Moreover if a band can't play together I know they are a bunch of second rate hacks.

    While we are on the subject, music education in this country is anemic at best. Is it any wonder why our country can't produce good music? Because it's not being taught in our schools.

    May 20, 2009 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Jim Blevins

    Well put. Modern country is closer to rock n' Roll than modern Rock. Kids run subwoofers with massive distortion so they can get the beat - they can't really hear the music. I agree, modern Rock sounds better when you hear nothing but the beat. All this noise over piracy - a real artist does it because he likes the music. The money is just a fringe benefit.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Mark Hunter

    I think one issue that contributes to the lack of trendsetting music today is the homogenization of society in general. When you think about classic bands from the '60s and '70s, they often reflected the unique areas where they came from, whether Liverpool, Shepherd's Bush, Austin or Athens. Now you can travel to most areas of the U.S. and see and hear all the same music, let alone the same restaurants, retail stores, etc. This has to impact the music.

    Also, it's true that technology has seriously affected the uniqueness of electric guitar sounds. Every tiny detail of "classic" guitar sounds from the past has been carefully scrutinized and is now available to anyone as a plug-in for their computer. The roles of artistic discovery and real innovation are direly lacking. I mean, when Hendrix plugged a Stratocaster into a Fuzz Face and then into a Marshall amp for the first time, he had no idea what it would even sound like! Can you imagine! Ah, to hear those sounds with virgin ears ...

    May 20, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  46. vicky

    i totally agree with van zandt, u have to hone your craft first. / example. matt sorem that was with the CULT, AND GUNS AND ROSES, THEN VELVET REVOLVER. got his start in cover bands. / i used to go see him in los angeles all the time with my friends. / he was awesome then. u could see that he was going to go somewhere with that talent. I miss cover bands. where u go out and watch a live band.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |

    Tom Petty.........................Rocks

    May 20, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  48. blamegame

    I feel sorry for you, Michael Jackson, Back Street Boys, and Hannah Montanna. Write something with substances, and move out of your mansion....

    May 20, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Furies

    Sorry, Stevie, but you're dead wrong on this one. This is a golden era for great music. The genre has expanded and fragmented – there will never likely be a Beatles again – but there is an overwhelming amount of clever stuff out there. Better still, the best music is yet to be written. (Although the Pixies have raised the bar prrretttty high...)

    Van Zandt's lament sounds like an old geezer complaining about young whippersnappers. Put down your axe (better still, your mic) and listen without preconceived prejudice – there are cooler guitar licks being played, more interesting vocal harmonies, lyrics with a refreshing new perspective, and innovative sounds and noises than ever before. Enjoy them all!

    May 20, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  50. George

    Van Zandt is right. Music today sucks. One hit wonders with little follow through. I remember LPs where you could listen to both sides and enjoy all the songs. Boston, Fleetwood Macs' Rumours, Aerosmith's Toys in the Attic, Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life. Now it is rare for an album of that caliber. The most recent in my mind is Greenday's American Idiot.
    I find it hard to believe that record companies are scouring the local venues for talent, and if they do, they only want the talent that looks pretty enough, or shocking enough, for a music video.

    The record companies want to blame pirating for their downward slide in sales, but the truth is their products suck.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  51. blamegame

    The reason why rock and roll is dead, because everyone from The Who, Led Zeppelin, and lesser talented Bruce Springsteen has sold their souls to the devil of capitalism. Also, there is more talented and inspirational homeless musicians whose music I prefer to hear than some fake rockin' rollers.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Bill W.

    Rock music today is the celebration of everything pretentious and mediocre. The bands today can't stand up to the talent of the 50's-80's. Sure, there's some good songs coming out, but not anything great. There hasn't been a true classic album in well over a decade. A big problem is, the talent is out there, but the record companies are so concerned about making a buck that they won't let bands have more than one shot at an album before giving up on them. In the old days, the great bands had a bunch of albums flop before they acheived greatness. These new bands aren't being given the same number of chances. They are set up for failure by the record exec's, and a impatient ADD/ADHD afllicted fan base .

    May 20, 2009 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  53. roadster

    "Bye bye miss american pie,went to the levy but the levy was dry"...pretty well sums up what has happened to "rock & roll.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Mark Benedict

    I have been performing in the Far East since 1981. I have been the lead guitarist of the popular American band "Handsome Stranger" on Okinawa and now "The Rusty Rockers Band" in Angeles City, Philippines. Rock and Roll cover songs from the 50s until the present time have been the mainstain of both bands. We have always packed the house and the people love drinking, dancing, and basically having a great time. There is merit in all styles of music, but a true musician never forgets his/her rock roots! You all be cool.........

    May 20, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Michael F. from Ohio

    I disagree with the people who said the games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band are killing rock. I think that it's the reverse. A lot of people are being introduced to real rock music from those games and the fact that it's interactive makes it better that just sitting around listening to an album. Get over yourselves.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Lou

    I believe so much in Rock and Roll that I started a festival in Duluth, MN called The Tribute Fest. Every event locally and in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul that have tribute bands playing attracts large crowds of teens and people under the age of 30. As long as these tribute bands continue honor the sound and for many the look of these bands, classic Rock and Roll will be around for a long time to come. Many of the young generation love Rock and Roll along with new music that is out there. Used vinyl record shops are popping up in towns all over the place with many of the young buying not only rock and Roll but also the Blues which is truly the beginning of Rock and Roll.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  57. CJ

    I think rock n roll is in cardiac arrest and seriously needs a jump start. I'm glad Steven Van Zandt finally put to words what a lot of us have been thinking for a while.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  58. Jon

    Rock and Roll is alive and well in the underground, but most of the best bands putting out records today in the mainstream are the ones that were doing so 15, 20, or 30 years ago. Too much homogenized, least common denominator pop / hip hop / electronically tweaked vocal "American Idle" music has crowded out any real innovation, while Clearchannel "Jack FM" radio stations, being quite literally brainless in the sense that their "DJ" is an automated playlist, have ousted originality in favor of the same rehash of past decade "greatest hits." A lot of great music waits to be discovered, but one has to hunt for it, and it'll never get nominated for Grammies. If you want to revitalize Rock, or for that matter Country or any other contemporary genre, put back on the air DJs with consciousness and biological activity, break up the national radio monopoly, and mandate a year-long moratorium on anything requiring teens dancing in choreographed formation or requiring electronic assistance to stay on pitch. I'm a big fan of extropy and the transhumanist movement, but, for the time being, music should be left to human beings.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Harry S. Anchan

    Steve is right on the button! I stopped enjoying most new music since 1985. Mind you, I listen, but the magic is not there. The Golden Age of Rock may be over, but Rock will never die! Elvis, The Beatles, Chuck Berry, CCR, Stevie Wonder, etc. did not make their impressions on music-lovers for nothing! It is no surprise to myself that I listen only to radio that plays music from the 50s, 60s, 70s and part of the 80s or my personal collection because that is when the joy of music struck a chord with me. Take away your current roster of artists and give me the above artists and Pink Floyd, The Who, The Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, The Eagles, Jethro Tull, The Police, Bob Dylan, etc. any day! The way I see it, there are enough fabulous artists and music from the above four decades to last a lifetime that I see no burning need to listen to the current uninspiring fare.

    I am sure there is a sleeping giant out there who will transform music to the point of rolling back the hands of time. History repeats itself, and music's turn is coming.


    May 20, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Gabraham

    The state of mainstream rock has been in a downward spiral this whole decade...however, this decade has also produced some of the most artistic music, both lyrically and musically. These included Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Sufjan Stevens, new Kings of Leon, and Arcade Fire. Check them out, and tell me rock/alt music is dead.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  61. flaming lip

    Repetitive radio, american idol, mtv, reality TV, Emo music, and nickelback have all played a part in destroying Rock n' Roll. I would have to say the latter is the main culprit. As long as nickleback is going platinum rock n' roll will be taking a giant leap backwards.

    But there are some really great bands out there, you just have to find them. DO NOT TRUST THE RADIO!! they play whatever is popular, and whatever is popular usually sucks!

    May 20, 2009 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Joe

    Its a different world today. I am one of those who believes it isn't music if Pro Tools or one of its clones created it. I hate listening to a song and you can hear the same recorded riffs pasted in.
    When a band creates an album, agree's they like it when its finished and then have to go and learn how to play it live you know its not music.
    Theres a reason why the really last great iconic band was U2. Yes others have come since then and some have enjoyed great success but there have been no true iconic bands since then.
    The same thing can be said for guitar hero's. Slash was the last man in. Again yes others have come along since then and some have had great success but the last great guitar hero is Slash.
    And what happened to the power ballad? That unavoidable song that crossed all lines of interest and united the world in a song? I think Bad English may hold the title of last power ballad with "When I See You Smile" but i could be wrong.
    And those notes show the timing of the arrival of Pro Tools.
    Will Rock and Roll fade away? Most likely not. Some movement will come along and breath life back into it. I think it's Anchorage's turn.
    And who knows maybe the big S-NY music factory will again care about the music instead of the money and start working with artists instead of the next great one or two CD wonder.
    All in all, when its music again and not a produced money tree product rock and roll, country, soul, r&b, and every other type of music will be better off.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Burnett

    Call me a relic, call me what you will,
    Say I'm old-fashioned, say I'm over the hill,
    Today's music aln' t got the same soul,
    I like that old time rock n roll.

    Still like that old time rockn roll,
    That kind of music just soothes the soul,
    I reminisce about the days of old,
    With that old time rock n roll.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Greg

    I think Rock Music today stinks! There is absolutely no creativity or originality. Everything is compressed into a guitar heavy power-hair-metal hybrid that sells to high school kids who think "Classic Rock" is something their parents listen to. I would love to hear music that consists of more than guitars and drums. Being an "angry singer" doesn't make you a rocker. American Idol doesn't help anything. That is more of a poster boy-girl popularity contest than anything about music. Why do you think most of the stars who appear on there have new albums coming out? It's really a shame. I miss the punk rock revolution. We need bands like the clash and the sex pistols. And somebody please write a song that is about something besides boinking or breaking up.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  65. KOL

    Finally, someone who simply states the truth. Steven Van Zant has hit the nail on the head! Rock and roll has just about ceased to exist. I am 37 years old and grew up listening to "old" Hendrix, Zep, Who and classic Van Halen (and then getting into and seeing "live" VH with 1984, 5150, etc.). I lived through a "dead" spot until GNR released Appetite (and then could not stop listening to the cassette!). Rock today is lame (I am not a metal head or Metallica fan) and like (but am not energized by) old bands like ACDC recycling power chords/riffs. I haven't bought a new album in 10 years , EXCEPT there is one HUGE exception that eveyone on this list should know about.... Sorry if you are late to the party, but better late then never (given they are absolutely HUGE in the UK and Europe and are FINALLY (what is wrong with us?) gaining traction in the US despite the fact that they are a US based rock group)- KINGS OF LEON. I read the first 25 or so posts and did not see their name, so I thought I would post (which I have never done before). Please do not start with their current album (Only By the Night) or their last one (Because of the times), while they are truly exceptional albums, you need to start with their first album (Youth and Young Manhood) and then progress (once you are ready) to their second album (Aha Shake Heartbreak). Great bands like this do not come around often. Enough said, go make up your own mind....

    May 20, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Jimbo

    The Old Man might be on life support but he is still very much alive. The new rockers have no clue to the value of the old stuff even way back to the 50's.

    Time to revive the rockers from old. Do their music and I mean their music, not what they thin it should sound like.

    I know this sounds naive but bring back the simpler times when rock and roll was clean and the only language you heard was good old fashioned lyrics that told a story.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  67. John

    Well, I think what is wrong with music in genral is this. The way the music is sold. Records stores r practically gone. Than you have the walmarts who sell selctive cd's by certain bands. Bands need to tour more, sell there stuff at the concert. Make tickets at a good price, so there is desposable income to buy theswe itmes at the concert. I mean after, paying almost. 200 bucks just for two tickets. Where is the money to buy the music. Rock needs to step up with the change, like it always has. It wil last. Its the greatest musci form. Its exposure that is killing it. There is none.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Chad

    This is great. This is exactly the kind of discussion that needs to take place. The more people get together and proclaim that rock and roll is dead, the more it will thrive. It needs to be dangerous, and edgy to keep the attention of the kids. And it has. There are things going on in music that are well below the radar and the kids LOVE it and are responding to it as they always have. There are new ways to access and promote music outside of the industry sleaze and suitcases full of cocaine that surrounded the FM radio classic rock era.
    You've got to look beyond radio. Radio is dead. Radio has been completely consolidated in to basically one major player, Clear Channel. They only want to play handful of bands and play them over and over and over. It's the payola marketing method taken to the logical end. You will never hear anything challenging on the radio, but you only need to make the most minimal amount of effort to find yourself swimming in more new, original, and amazing music than you could ever hope to fully appreciate in your lifetime. It's not rock and roll that's dying, it's you. Re-engage it and you'll find your own vitality again. Go to a local show. Use some of the newer tools like Pandora and and see what gets suggested for you. You'll have your ears opened, I guarantee.
    @Scott LeComte, I'm a bass player, and I do a hell of a lot more than nail down the root note. Why should I be locked into what Motown did two generations ago? Sure, it was great when they did it, but we're acknowledging and moving on. Lazy players will always be, but we're all not lazy players. Peace.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Art Ahrens

    The TRUTH is finally published!!!! Trouble is that the music business is just that. A meat grinder that grinds out the same old stuff for Clive Davis and his peers. We need to get back to the rootsof progressive rock and roll!!!

    May 20, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Andy

    As an actively gigging college musician, I can assure you that people still want to hear the good stuff. You wouldn't believe how well covers of Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Clapton, and even the Beatles still received by a college crowd. The problem is that the people who make the decisions about who to promote care more about image than music. Think about it: Not too long ago the Jonas Brothers were allowed to dirty the cover of Rolling Stone. They are about image: Tweeners screaming to their music while they hold expensive guitars that they don't play anything more complicated then straight rhythm with. In the mean time there are bands playing in the basements of Fraternities that can harmonize better, solo stronger and actually play their instruments.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  71. KEM

    I've been lucky enough to work in the music biz as as studio musician for the past couple of decades, and I have to say, the levels of both writing craft and musicianship have never been lower. Sure, there are great bands out there, but the general public will never hear them. Record labels used to find great bands and put money into developing them, now they sign them and shelve them so they don't compete with the substandard artists they already have. Computer editing has ruined a lot of it. It's pretty standard for artists to come in to record and not be able to get through their own songs without tons of mistakes, depending on engineers to make them sound like they can sing and play. Back in the day we recorded everything on analog tape, which meant you plaiyed perfectly or you failed.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Chris

    Pearl Jam, Ryan Adams, Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Incubus, Oasis, Shinedown.....

    Pearl Jam is the best band in the past 25 years...and ranks up there in top 10 bands of all time. If they were around in the 60's-80's you would be putting them up there with the Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Zep, GNR, CCR, Sabbath, Kinks, etc...

    I agree rock music since the late 90's is just plain horrible, but some bands out there today are still going strong, and what about Phish???


    Nickelback is ruining the world!

    May 20, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  73. coleopter

    I think it's time to acknowledge that rock is dead. Oh, sure, there are plenty of rock bands out there. But they are keepers of an antiquarian tradition, like jazz combos and madrigal ensembles. You can cry about it if you like (and I do, a lot), but the genre is dead. It is dead because the sensibility is dead. It was killed by two things: concentration in the record/media industry, and the advent of the Moog. In fact, I would argue that the latter was the more important, triggering a shift in musical tastes akin the the arrival of the piano in the latter 18th century. Back then, the baroque style of intricate dance movements based on various keyboard sonorities such as those of the harpsichord and spinet, which saw its ultimate expression in the works of J. S. Bach, was supplanted by the simpler forms of the classical style, as the bell-like tones of the piano replaced the more complex timbres of those earlier keyboard instruments. Similarly, the improbable fusion of rodeo music and caribbean folk melodies that came to be known as rock'n'roll was a dance-based form based on the electric guitar. The synthesizer generated pure tones, as opposed to standard instruments, which were based on mechanical vibrations and therefore put out a complex timbre composed of many different harmonics blended together. Also with the advent of programmable drum machines the music became much more regular and repetitive. In addition, just as there were distinct national styles in the baroque era, there were in the 1950s distinctive regional sounds. Associated with record labels in the various cities, there was of course a Memphis sound and a Detroit sound, but also a Pittsburgh sound(e.g. the DellVikings), a Boston sound(Cleftones), &c. Concentration in the industry not only killed all that but also produced a race to the bottom, as more empirical marketing techniques made it possible to seek out the lowest common denominator. And of course the scarcity of competition let them get away with it.

    Really, though, even without the problems of concentration in the recording industry, rock is probably not ressurectable because, based as it is on dance steps and IRREGULAR (the original meaning of baroque) and therefore nonprogrammable rhythms, it does not mesh well with digital technology. Rock is music by and for square pegs. For the forseeable future, unfortunately, the roundheads have won.

    May 20, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Kevin

    I can't agree more and disagree less with this statement. The metal scene is flourishing but they have resorted to making money through their music by touring and promoting themselves. With the exception of bands such as Lamb of God and Metallica and SLipknot when was the last time you saw an actually talented set of musicians who write their own music with a number 1-3 album on the charts?......waiting........still waiting......

    Thats what I thought.

    (Disturbed doesn't count because all of their songs sound exactly the same)

    May 20, 2009 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  75. martin wnuk

    you have to consider any art form in context. rock and roll was the child of post world war 2 america, before that the us was mostly a rural society. but the country weathered a great depression and a world war and emerged as the planet's only military and economic superpower. attitudes towards sex, money, work, family and just about everything else were transformed. during this affluent and optimistic period millions of babies were conceived. conditions were exactly right for a culture of youth to emerge- and did it ever!

    so, going back to rock and roll roots may be impossible to do outside of this context. impressionist painting was radical in 1860 but if you painted that way now it'd be irrelevant. rock and roll may well have run its course.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  76. douglas

    1st you need to define :Rock & Roll". To many people put the late 70's and fwd as R& R. The only good R & R was the 60's and70's. There are bands out there that are great and better that what we had back then but as then and as now it was "Promotion". Band promoted, and you were on the way. Look at todays bands all you here is their promotional *** and all you get is music(?) that you can't understand 6 words. Bring back good ole R & R

    May 20, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Sotto Voce

    This is such an old argument, but it never means anything unless you name names - who is great and who is mediorce? - and then it's all subjective and all we can do is argue about it. Rock n' roll is the music of youth, but it's almost 60 years old. It's either going to become something different, or its going to be preserved in formaldehyde. As soon as Van Zandt tries define it what it is and should be, what's good and what's bad, he's limiting it. And the stuff that history judges as really good is the almost always the stuff that the establishment thought was crap at the time. Interestingly, though I like a lot of different sounds - lots of jazz and blues; some amount of bluegrass and folk; a bit of world music and hip-hop; lots of early, classic, prog, punk, new wave, nerd, and grunge rock; and occassional classical, opera, show tunes, and electronic/experimetal songs - in my 35 years of music buying, I've never been moved to own a Springsteen album. I know that he and his band are beloved, but his sound has never been my cup of tea. Emotionally, I find his music sounds predicatably radio friendly and a little dull, but that's just me. It's a good thing I'm not in charge of deciding what is good and what is bad - no one should be. Viva la difference! And if anyone really wants to have an inpact on making music as a whole better, more interesting and more meaningful, they shouldn't talk about it. They should make that kind of music, and set an example and a standard. Some people are still doing that. Some people are just getting old and cranky.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Robert James Alsten

    It is coming.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  79. T Earl Adams

    If what Little Steven is talking about was considered a disease, the poster child would be Nickleback. Music created to titillate the cerebral cortex and leave your ass completly unshook.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Bruce Oksol

    I love listening to good rock and roll. But there's nothing out there now that I enjoy. Sure, there are hundreds of bands, and they each might have one okay song, one good song, and one excellent song from every ten bands or so, but there's no break out band, nothing dependable. So what if I hear one good song, if they can never follow it up. Amy Winehouse...a flash in the pan....Bruce Springsteen, awesome...but if one is going to be political, one has to be subtle. Don't shove it in our face. I used to like Springsteen, but he's shoving his political thoughts in our face. The Beatles had political thoughts exactly opposite mine but they were subtle when they sang them - they didn't shove it in my face. They could put out a whole album, and album after album. And don't even get me started about hip-hop, rap. Unless it's Blondie.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Eric

    Oh ye Dinosaurs of Rock and Roll. Your turn to roll over. Beethoven needs the company by now. There is an amazing mosaic of new music out there that has benefited from new avenues of music exposure and exchange that have never been available previously to artists and listeners.
    Music evolves. Rock is gone, Disco is gone, Punk is gone, New Wave is gone, Grunge is gone...they all left a legacy but so did a million other genres before it. If you don't appreciate the modern diversity Steven, focus on what you like and enjoy your music. No harm in liking "your" time period, thinking it to be the best, or most productive, etc...
    But really... how can you look at art that way? Is there really a best time for painters, or architecture, or literature? No. Culture and music evolve together. Artists that cry for the good old days will remain where they want to be, but they shouldn't criticize new music.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Scott LeComte

    The struggle for rock and roll to find itself again is not as simple as finding passion. I believe there are several reasons that the rock music today is less desirable. At first I thought I was turning into my father. All the new rock music sounds the same to me. Vocal tones are very similar, there is no such thing as guitar tone anymore, it’s been replaced by over-processed effects or screaming distortion. Drummers sound like a drum machine with no “feel”, most bass players opt for driving single note 8th or 16th note riffs instead of the walking 3rd’sand 5th’s brought to us by the Motown movement. If you are a musician, you will always listen to music more intently and listen for subtleties. At first I thought that it was technology as Steven suggests. There is some truth to that. Anyone with enough time and limited musical ability can “engineer” something that can sound decent to a normal listener. It takes years of practice, and more importantly, you have to feel the music. Feeling the music in our soul, in your heart is the fuel that sparks passion in music. Secondly, the listeners are part of the problem. How will the new generation know what great rock music was when they are bombarded by the same sound every time they listen to the local radio station? I believe that young people are not interested in the passion, the heart of music. It’s too complicated, just as in television, young people look for something that does not take a lot of thinking. Simple, is the new passion. If the producers could include a laugh track to initiate a smile in new music I am confident they would. The really sad thing is there are still bands making very powerful and passionate music. These bands just don’t get the airtime or promotion that the simple bands get. Without the music industry’s help, I’m afraid great rock music will be lost forever.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  83. SeanG

    I agree with a lot of what's already been said so I won't bother adding my raindrop to the ocean. But has anyone considered that Rock as mainstream is gone and not coming back? And maybe that's ok. Various forms of jazz were the popular music from about 1920-1955 or so. The Classical era (Mozart etc) and the Romantic era (Debussy etc) ran about 100 years each. I would argue that even rap and country fall under a very large definition of 'rock'. A 50 year run isn't so bad. New innovative rock will always exist in the underground. Classic rock, like jazz and classical, will never dissapear forever. But maybe something new that we don't see coming is just over the horizon. Something that we can't even call rock and roll. If the industry is dead and gone I won't shed a tear, though.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  84. Mike

    A friend who plays '60s rock for Spring Break crowds told me a college girl came up to him after a gig and said "I'm so glad you play the music you play.
    I play in a '60s band, rich harmonies, Motown, Eagles. We recently played a coming-out event for debutantes in their early 20's. They were all against the stage in their dresses and tuxes, screaming. After, every time one would catch our eye as we were packing up, they'd say with great energy, "Thanks so much for playing for us. We had a fabulous time."

    I can't stand most of what's out there now. Music has always, from the dim past to the last 30 or so years, had melody, harmony, and dynamics. Today the music has no dynamics - it's all the same level,
    Today the singers do not have to have talent - they're packaged and sold to us and we're told we like them. No professional recording is made without digitally correcting every bad vocal note.

    I'm glad to see young musicians getting interested in the Stones, Beatles, Doors, CSN, Hendrix - bands that had talent and unique sounds, good songs, great performances. What i hear in boom cars is crap.

    An audiologist friend of mine, also a Grammy nominee singer / songwriter, tells me he's fitting 12-year-olds with hearing aids, that 12-18 year olds have the hearing of 70 and 80-year-olds, due chiefly to Ipods. There's no federal volume standard on the things, and the kids, being immortal the way we think we are at that age, can't be warned. They don't listen.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Marc Axelrod

    The rock and roll era is over 🙁

    May 20, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  86. john

    If you want good music, go back to 1970's rock...Zeppelin, Foghat, UFO, Rush, Bob Seeger, REO, Styx, Rolling Stones, Yes, ELP, ELO, etc. etc. there is something for everyone and its creative and the musicians are actually skilled and the lead singers actually can sing...unlike the crap churned out today....

    May 20, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Joe

    The real difference is that the industry is always trying to find the NEW GREATEST THING THAT EVER HIT THE INDUSTRY! And because of that, they tend to sign talentless hacks who have some "look", or some "gimmick" as opposed to true musical talent ... which takes true commitment and dedication to develop to the extent that Steve is talking about. The industry simply could care less about true talent ... they care about what the teeny boppers will buy.

    Unfortunately for the true musicians of the world, the teeny boppers of today's world don't really work for much regarding entertainment! Hear me out ... look at today's movies that are geared towards the young ... there is no time to set up a REAL plot ... instant gratification or the movie simply sucks! That's the simple reality in today's world! I tried to sit down with my 14 year old son and watch the Pink Panther ... which was hilarious to me when I was 14 ... he was bored to tears within 5 minutes ... and my son is not a problem child like I was at 14! He had no inclination of letting the plot develop in order to enjoy the story! He required instant gratification in order to enjoy himself!

    That's the reason that the "AWE" of a guy ripping some great guitar, with another guy actually thumping a bass guitar, with another human being creating beats live (I'm talking about actually playing the drums) capped by an awesome singer has gone away. They don't know what to be in awe of ... I mean there is no doubt that, machine made beats mixed with over sampled crap fronted by the coolest person in two shoes is entertaining ... even if it really took nothing more than a good connection and/or pure luck to land the recording contract! And isn't that what it's really about anyway ... just entertainment!

    So to Steve's point ... it's true ... most of today's musicians in rock and roll are hacks compared to the past ... with a very few exceptions ... and even those exceptions are forced to steer away from what they really love ... good music ... ie ... John Mayer ... who made it in pop ... and eventually was "allowed" by the crappy industry to finally make half of a blues album! If you listen to the John Mayer Trio ... and then to the pop he does ... the blues is true talent ... the pop is ok!

    my two cents!

    May 20, 2009 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Bob

    "Video Killed the Radio Star" was the the first music video shown on MTV. That was the beginning of the end.

    Can you picture Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin or Joni Mitchell making it during the MTV era? Nah. They don't look enough like Madonna.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Dennis Davis

    No one buys junk. Most modern music "follows". It doesn't "lead". The real problem with the music business is the corporate businessmen picking who gets to be the next boring, run of the mill radio sensation forced upon the publics dull, low expectational ears. There have always been talented people that no one took a chance on. The music business talent scouts always choose the safe "white bread choice" which sounds like the last white bread hit record. They might not have the talent to know it when they hear it. For a short time in the late Sixties, early Seventies, the music business took a chance on many differant acts. It gave us music we still listen to and revere today. If you look at the biggest successes in the history of music (as in everything else), they are always completely original, new and different and seem to "come out of nowhere". The "New and Different" is usually "Good" or, sometimes "great" as well. This is what people like. This is what people will buy. CSN&Y, Santana, Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Donna Summer, Sly Stone, Beatles, Yes, ELP, Bowie, Springsteen, Hendrix, Dylan, Stones, Zeppelin, Police, Eminem are all good examples of real talent that slipped thru the cracks.

    PS. I didn't make it either... see here.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Ajay

    How brilliant for stating the obvious?! Rock N Roll died years ago.
    Lets face it 99.95% of today's music is pathetic, years ago
    at its peak we had a respectable number of 99.55% being pathetic!!!
    It could be because lot more people are allowed to make records
    or that quality has truly dropped down by a drastic 0.40%!

    Mediocrity is the price to pay for overexposure and
    assembly line music! Every artist talks about "being different"
    and ability to innovate, clearly they are deaf to their own music!

    May 20, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Xrys Rogers

    It really does all come down to craft. Pride in one's work. And something worth saying.

    I don't bother with corporate radio/music (of any genre) anymore b/c there might be one catchy song. They're not even singing about anything of substance. At least the one-hit-wonders of the 80s have one-hits with staying power. Or how can any of these glossy acts compare with HENDRIX!? Are you kidding me? Talent ain't hard to come by...but legendary talent? Can't fake that.

    Indie label, small label and underground artists are the way to go. Even if they lack some sophistication, their work is genuine and it shows. The internet allows free publicity for these artists to sell their work and reach audiences that are shut-out to them via radio or TV. That's the real reason the music industry hates file-sharing. People are sharing music that they can't control.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  92. Darren

    AMEN! He speaks the truth.

    Twenty-five years after an artist's first record they become eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The HoF is packed with legends of music that influenced the generations that came after them.

    The generations that came after them paid tribute to those legends by taking inspirations from their work and adding a little of their own talent into the mix. Many of these artists have recently been inducted or can expect to be inducted in the coming years.

    Today there is so much focus on pop music – dance, hip-hop, rap. Unfortunately, all these artists seem to build on is the single that came before them. There is no history in the music and very little new creativity added into it. Why do you think disco fizzled out so quickly? Thankfully, punk rock in the late 1970s pulled music back to some of its rebellious roots.

    This is why I wonder who will be inducted into the HoF in the coming decades. Will fans of these artists know who Elvis Presley was? Or Robert Johnson? Muddy Waters? Chuck Berry? Bill Haley?

    "American Idol" and other such programs have their place on the musical landscape, but we shouldn't look to these highly-polished singers to carry the torch very far, unless they seriously get in touch with some true creativity.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Joksonu

    Can I get A Witness? Amen. Steven Van Zandt is on the money. I've been of the same opinion about the state of rock n roll since the mid ' 90s. Record company's claim they have a loss in sales because of illegal downloading. "Tell me Lies, Sweet Little Lies", the truth is we no longer by the music they produce and force down our throats. Cause it ain't Rock n Roll but it sure is Noise Pollution.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  94. Steve

    At least one rock n' roll genre is doing very well thank you very much –
    Heavy Metal.
    The old guard have been touring again (Maiden, Priest, etc) and there are new bands worth looking into at least every few months.
    Even Metallica figured out they were a metal band again last fall putting out their best album since Justice.

    Real rock ain't dead. Boring, radio-safe schlock is dead. What's dead is boring pop-"rock". Thank God and good riddance I say.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Janet B

    Of course he is right. The vulgar cussing, the demeaning of women, the trash talk, the over, and over, and over repetition carry not one bit of rock n roll story. Almost no bands can truly perform anymore, and heaven knows.... they don't' know how to dress. Their goal is to sell trash to youngsters, and they have no intention of "entertaining" anyone.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Derek

    The problem is that the music business is no longer about music it's about dancing singers. Long before American Idol there was the Brittany kind of act where the the skinny chick would sing in front a group of dancers.
    The "bands" no longer get the marketing that these singers get simply besause it costs more to develop and market an original band. When consumers start seeking out and supporting bands there will be a shift back, but not until they get past the over-hyped singer/dancer of the moment.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  97. Marty

    "Rock" is no longer rebellion.

    "Rock" is no longer a sacred vestibule to venture into for the sake of "rocking out". Rock was a compendium of songs, sounds and stages where the youthfulness reigned supreme (and made parents nervous)!

    The industry of rock is too subdivided by niches to be filled. The industry of rock has perpetuated too many imitators of other bands AND artists who continue to imitate themselves.

    Rock was a playground to is where musicians sought refuge from classical, country or pop (also note that "pop" can also be a blurred line of "rock"). It wasn't because they didn't like other forms of was a haven of pure energy and creativity. I must add that R&B gets set aside too often in a commentary like this when R&B is equal to the freedom of rock music and has also been very complimentary to rock.

    I will add that there is good music being made. It gets lost in the mess of which the industry is partly responsible for, and partly the musicians themselves.

    Another industry weakness: the ProTools methodology showcases all the weaknesses (I am NOT singling out ProTools, just an example of software): cut and paste, digital shrillness, vocal pitch correction, adjust, adjust, adjust, correct, and correct things in the music that should have been learned and recorded properly in the first place.

    There are reasons single downloads are killing full length albums; the main one is 95% of full albums are very difficult too take seriously or listen too.

    So maybe focus on singles again? The 45rpm single helped form rock'n'roll; can it again?

    May 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  98. Caroline

    a ketch and Mike – thank you for speaking some sense to this unbelievable whine-fest!!

    Steven Van Zandt is not the purveyor of all things good and cool in the world, I'm sorry he's just not. He is a senior citizen. By his own definition, he should not be allowed to be "rock n roll" because rock is made by and played for the young, right??

    However, I absolutely disagree with this whole line of thought. If all you want to listen to are heavy guitar, verse-chorus-verse-reprise no one has to make anymore - it's all been done!!

    Isn't the point of music to evolve? Why does everything have to harken back to "the good ol days"?? I love the Who, the Stones, a little Zep as much as anyone *needs* to - but my god how boring if that's all I ever put on?

    I'm happy to offer Steven and his followers a primer on some freaking great music made THIS decade .. no thanks necessary, just open your ears and your mind (EVOLVE) and see what's out there. Sorry, no metal in this list, because honestly is that really music?? And to many people's point, it doesn't all have to be ROCK like Springsteen makes it .. it's MUSIC:

    Kings of Leon, Killers, Beck, Republic Tigers, Ryan Adams, Wilco, Radiohead, Dave Matthews Band, Snow Patrol, the Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs, Gomez, Ting TIngs, Green Day, MGMT, Jem, Interpol, Vampire Weekend, Spoon, Ivy, Thievery Corporation, Zero 7, Daft Punk, Tegan and Sara, Gorillaz, KT Tunstall, Death Cab for Cutie, Iron & Wine, Bon Iver, Travis, Jason Mraz, John Legend, Joe Purdy, Ben Lee, Ben Harper and Relentless 7, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, the White Stripes, Raconteurs ... we could go on and on.

    But please, I don't need some balding, aged rocker telling me there's "nothing good anymore" ... it's very self-serving to put that out there and does no one any good. These bands are struggling even when they are good - he was speaking at the SXSW fest for god's sake! that alone is a hotbed of talented bands looking to find an audience. He forgets how lucky he was to hitch his wagon to the powerhouse of Springsteen, else he would be the saddest-sack wedding band cover guitarist ever.


    May 20, 2009 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  99. ATK

    Rock is Powerful. Rock is Phenominal. Rock is Legacy. But, where is it. Their is a great history of rock and roll that has no face. For every Tiffany Beers and Briyonce we get we lose the Hollies and a Buffalo Springfield. Their is nothing wrong with todays music. I don't like it but their is music from all periods I don't like. I love 60's and 70's Rock but think Disco should be treated like waterboarding, used only when neseccary to get information vital to national security.
    Their are decades of rock and roll history, TV shows, concert films, entire TV channels dedicated to it but it isn't being shown anywhere. Sure every town has a classic rock station but who listens to the radio anymore. I have found the younger generation very receptive to the history of rock but it is hard for them to have any real exposure to it outside of TV and Film because their is little or no discounts given for someone wanting to explore the history of rock and roll.
    No wonder kids download music illegally, it's the only way for them to be exposed to music that would otherwise be unavailable to them or cost them a frack load of money for. My point is that their is no classic Rock video channel that doesn't get a preachy about their current program managers favorite band (usually Skynyrd or the Who) and is willing to get into the meat and bones of Rock and Roll and encourage the next generation to ROCK!!! Where are the video directors making videos for the classic songs that never got the treatment. Why are we not teaching this as part of out history. Rock, Jazz Blues, Hip Hop all came from the same movement. The want and desire of the new generation to break the mold of old and create the first world wide community. Rock helped drop barriers, create controversy, challenged our ideals and made us better for it. Where is the love and respect.
    Their is a reason that Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" renetered the charts years after its release thatks to exposure in the Waynes World movie. It gave a slightly new generation a look at a piece of music that rocked but was only heard in certain circles. If Billboard hadn't starting "Retiring" albums from their top lists then "Dark Side of the Moon" would still be listed next to Miley Cirus.
    Rock is very much alive. It has just returned to its roots, underground. It may not be the popular form and may not be pulling in the american idol money (which by the way you could dangle a piece of string in front of the television for an hour and as long as you convince all the 10-15 years old girls that it is cool you'll make money on it) but real rock isn't about money it's about the Rock. It's the feeling of oneness that melds the listener with the band and takes you on a spiritual journey to the heart of reality wherein you learn that above all else the universe Rocks!!!

    May 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  100. Alex Kulcsar

    When was the last time you heard a new track that featured a guitar solo? The focus of rock music, which had always been the guitarists, shifted to the vocalists in about 1992.

    I really haven't bought many albums since, CD or download.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  101. Colin

    I was going to go on a rant but I've decided to simplify it. I think the problem with music is white middle aged rockers who think their "traditional" stuff is the be all and end all. If rock dies or fades into the background, (which it is doing in a sense) then who cares. Every new period and genre has its detractors among the older generation, time to let a new generation shine, no matter what it chooses.

    Let the smoke clear and the period sort out how distribution will happen and then evaluate new music coming out. I certainly don't expect people to judge the 60's based on the Archies and the Osmonds. But unlike the past, the good stuff won't be on the same major labels as the bad stuff. You have to dig a little!

    I'm glad my parents didn't pass their tastes on from the 70's, their stuff is terrible.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  102. Kurt

    The people who think 'rock n roll' is dead grew up in the 60's and 70's and refuse to listen to anything newer. There are always great new bands to listen to but you have to expand on what you were listening to 30 years ago. I grew up listening to David Bowie, The Who, Traffic, Beatles, etc. Yes, their music is still good, but try listening to on the internet. Bands like Wolf Parade and Animal Collective have borrowed sounds from past decades but make it new and fresh. But most people just don't want to try and like anything new. It would also help if the bands from the 60's and 70's would just permanently hang it up...why anyone would want to see a bunch of 60 years old trying to rock out is beyond me (yes, I'm talking about the Stones, Eagles, etc.).

    May 20, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  103. Chris

    I don't disagree with Stevie, nor anyone else on this thread who contends that rock is dead. But I need some specific examples of artists that represent said death. I have plenty that I could name myself, but I'd like to know what others think.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  104. Brian

    Want top hear the new blood of rock and roll, check out
    Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real. They just got off tour with BB King and are going out again this summer.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  105. Marianne Stout

    I agree with Steven! My 11 is practicing the Beatles right now. He hates rap. He screams for me to turn it off if it's on the radio. He doesn't understand why there isn't any Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Billy Joel, Animals etc. on the radio. I don't know what to tell him. He just buys the oldies for his ipod. He is trying to get through his classical pieces on the piano so he can play good old rock and roll. I have to admit, my husband and I were in heaven tonight as he played Come Together!

    May 20, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  106. redman71

    Right on guys, couldnt agree more......Thanks for the Airbourne tip, that band is awesome

    May 20, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  107. Matt

    The industry is looking for entertainment...not music. I'm a soft-rock/country/adult-contemporary fan. Before MTV we had groups–not singles–stand and sing. That was talent. It was the song, delivery, music. Nowadays you have to dance around and stuff. I never got to watch the BeeGees live–only on TV–but they sang with talent and the whole show was them standing there–they didn't have to bounce around on the stage to sing well and get folks dancing or "into" the music and swaying. Reduce the "entertainment" factor and you'll start to improve the "music" (talent?) factor–regardless of the genre. My two cents.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  108. HetNet

    I'd have to say the formative years of R&R were over by about 1975...But absolutely all the originality had been bled by about 1985....Everything pretty much had been done at least once by then and most everything since has seemed, at least to me, to be derivative...
    But a lot of people performed a lot of experimental and creative things, and the "new" had to wear off sooner or later..
    When I listen to "new" music, that is music done in the last 10 or 15 years, it's almost exclusively pop punk....It's not new....But, man, it can still get my heart thumping and my legs bouncing more often than not...There IS still good music being made...It's just not ORIGINAL music any more.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  109. Chadillac

    Listen to moe.

    They are the only real rock n' roll band today.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  110. Nathan

    Van Zandt their are plenty of amazing albums and amazing artists, you're only right when referring to the mainstream of music. Most radio stations don't play the real music anymore because they're too corrupted by the major labels and marketing conglomerates making their playlists for them.

    But tune into your local University Radio or Public Radio station and you'll find real music. Bands like Death Cab for Cutie, the Decemberists, as well as new comers Blind Pilot and Ra Ra Riot and so many other Indie acts take Rock & Roll and blend it into new places it's never visited before.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  111. Roy M

    Most of the music put out today is subpar when compared to the music of the 60's and 70's. From the late 80's until today Most good bands, and there are several, try to get people to listen to medicore music in the name of discontent and anti-everything. Long may Beatles music survive. They were and still are the greatest rock band ever. nobody today even comes close. That's sad since the Beatles haven't recorded anything in 30 years.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  112. Ryland Death

    It's funny how when "established" (meaning rich) people preach "back to values," they always only ever mean their own values, which, unfortunately in the case Mr. Vai, are precisely the values that stand in the way of revolutionary potential and real progress.

    The problem is that the philosophical ground that ligitimizes the music industry is wrong at its core: art of any medium simply cannot remain art properly so-called if it is mass-ified, precisely because any gesture toward a mass-culture audience is a gesture toward an imaginary market whose needs are always pre-determined. Such a gesture establishes a condition for what constititutes good art, even before a single note is played, and immediately pervert the frees play of creativity we hold central to true art making.

    We won't see any inprovement here unless we reject the consumerist capitalist paradigm that holds art hostage to the irrational and irrelevant demands of the 'silent majorities'.

    We need rock revolution, not rock reform.

    An answer that simply states we should 'get back to craft' squarely refuses to accept responsibility for a carcenogenic philosophical attitude that perpepetuates medocrity and hamstrings artists before they begin, and ought be considered as highly insulting to artists who have thoroughly honed their craft, but do not play for mass audiences.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  113. John Chandler

    I listen to Classic Rock for a reason, there has been NO toe tapping since the early 70's.........Rock isnt dead, its just in a coma, snippets of what contributes to rock, but is never really Rock and Roll...

    May 20, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  114. Rob

    Rock and roll isn't just about making good music. It's about half of it. TRUE rock n' roll is about telling stories, spreading messages, all the while adding in some nice beats and killer music. I do not claim to be knowledgable in much of rock and roll's history. But bands like creedence, metalica, the beetles, AC/DC, and even one-hit wonders like Journey, have had an effect on people all over the globe. Shaping and moldiing music into a way that either gets people headbanging, lighterwaving, or dancing in the streets.

    I will admit. There is SOME good rap music, some good pop-style music, and even some good country out there. But they usually tend to stay with the croud and appeal to the masses, rather than creating Identity. Rock n' roll is about each band's Identity. Even modern rock (or what some may define as rock) bands tailor their craft into something completely different from others. You're not going to hear a Flyleaf song that sounds the same as a Fallout Boy song (thank god), same thing with Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, All american rejects, and many more ranging from Nu Metal, Heavy metal, Pop-rock, and just plain rock. It is the same thing through the ages, whether it be in the Hair bands of the 80s, Elvis, 90's grunge and our modern day screamo soundtracks, No two bands are alike (OK maybe except for coldplay, and disney stars) and that is the point, tell the story, make the music, get your point out, MAKE US DANCE! this is the escence of true music. And I think that the industry could use more of it. Be yourself, we preach it in our schools, lets live it.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  115. Richard Lombardo

    The biggest thing missing from rock music today is a good melody. Songs become classics not only because of the lyrics but because of melodies. Music is no longer happy. Guitar players wear their guitars down by their knees because it looks cool (or so they think) and that compromises their comfort. The start of bad guitar solos began with Eddie Van Halen. They guy is a technician but his solos said nothing but watch how fast I go. The most memorable guitar solos are about the notes, the feeling, and not about the speed. For example, listen to the guitar solo in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Aqualung", "We Used to Know" by Jethro Tull, "Comfortably Numb". No speed, just great taste. Tasteful playing is where it's at. Referring back to the person who spoke of the music between 1966 and 1976, it's true. Every band at Woodstock had their own sound and style. You take 30 rock bands from today and they all sound alike. I'm a drummer and I've always thought of drums as being melodic as well as just to provide a beat. My fills always set me apart from other drummers and it was the others who would watch me play. Todays drummers use the same three fills and pretty much add nothing to the music. Today's musicians need to once again concentrate on the music instead of how to appear onstage with a major case of bedhead and looking like sullen rebels.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  116. Benjamin

    He is right. I am 24 years young and most of the music I listen two is decades older than myself. Rock really has crumbled down into a mass-produced festival of generic garbage. No one pushes the boundaries or dares to be innovative or deep. Just catchy enough to get stuck in your head like an ad jingle, coerce you to buy the CD, and then you get sick of the jingle soon enough to get caught by some other shallow single. The cycle continues. Meaningful music is close to death.

    Or maybe not - maybe it still exists, but just isn't being played on the radio or TV, as quality is no longer profitable in the Music industry.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  117. Ryan

    Stevie is wrong. Music is awesome these days. Anyone who agrees with him obviously doesn't do much music listening.

    Great bands don't sell records, and it's as simple as this: great bands stay on small labels. Small labels don't distribute well. Bands stay on small labels because they don't want their music to be spoiled by big record labels that will control their artistic output and force it into the incredibly small palette of popular culture.

    If you want good music download it, and then support the bands live when they come on tour.

    Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, TV on the Radio, Amanda Palmer, Midnight Juggernauts, Crystal Castles, The Cool Kids, Blitzen Trapper, Hot Chip... I could seriously go on and on. Check these people out. And listen to the new releases of older artists like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, David Byrne and Brian Eno, Placebo has a new one coming out....

    May 20, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  118. Eric

    Steve is right on the coin here, learn your craft. Play the covers, pay your dues. Its a hard sell in our world that dreams of instant success but it is so true. Also, do it for the music., live to play live. Good bands are forged not formed in my opinion. Forged as in forged in the fire, not the photocopier : )) Above all, develop you own voice as a musician on your instrument.

    May 20, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  119. Charley

    Steven need look no farther than the corporate radio conglmerate that airs his program. His program is great - college radio is the only radio worth listening to. Everything on the radio sounds the same; every "classic rock" station no longers plays any of the newer rock n' roll or any of the new releases by the "classic" rockers/musicians. Worse, you can almost set your watch by every overplayed Aerosmith or Pink Floyd song.

    May 20, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  120. JJ

    The music coming out these days is absolutely awful. Just nothing to get excited about. Even the concerts just aren't the same. Maybe it's all of the advanced electronics. Changes the sound of the instruments – too perfect. Nor the packaging – CD's can't hold a candle to the vinyl records.

    May 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  121. Jason

    My father ... upon hearing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band .... also lamented the state of "Rock 'n Roll" .... that it was dead .... it didn't sound like Elvis or Chuck Berry. I complain the same way when I hear some of todays musicians ... it don't sound like "Bruce" ... Rock Music is dead !! I think that one of the precursors, one of the requirements of Rock Music is that if you're over the age of 30 and you don't like it .... it must sound good for the current generation listening !!!

    May 20, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  122. Mel Bain

    Rock n Roll died the day they opened the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame. RnR is suppossed to be about rebellion. The day it was legitimized by the HOF and flotsom like American Idol just drives the nail into the coffin even deeper.You want real rnr listen to bands like Zeke, The Riverboat Gamblers, and The Lords Of Altamont. Never heard of them, go fiqure.

    May 20, 2009 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  123. Nellie

    The art of rock 'n roll is most definately a dying art. What happened to the Bob Dylans and Pat Benetars of the world? The music is in need of a heroic comeback!

    May 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  124. Brian, Detroit, MI

    Singers that can't sing? Rappers that just speak in a monotone voice? These are not artists. These are lazy wannabes that should just be put out of their, and our, misery.

    May 20, 2009 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  125. Brian, Detroit, MI

    Let Rock 'n' Roll die.

    May 20, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  126. juanh

    There are good bands, but not great bands. The great bands are from the 60's , still making noise. Rock has been dead for a lot a years. The music business is responsable for destroing the art of expression real music and talent. First of all for alllowing and promoting stupid bubble gum music, and not really giving real production 2 real lyrics and real feeling. Go back to the 50 , 60 and 70´s and hear what rock is all about .

    May 20, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  127. Chris

    This is what happens when you become derivative of something that was derivative of something else. What happens when you make copies of copies? The image fades, of course.

    There's a substantial chunk of the population that believes that nothing worthwhile has happened in music since the early 1900's, when Schoenberg decided that tonality wasn't so great anymore. They'll tell you that musical epochs come and go, and with society moving as rapidly as it does now, it's little surprise that "Rock", as we used to know it, has had its 50-60 years in the sun, and has been replaced by soulless, committee-created, generic Pop.

    I advise everybody to start listening to Classical music or Metal. The musicians involved in their creation are too busy perfecting their art to worry about things like image, focus groups, sales analysis, or responding to the current trends.

    May 20, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  128. JB Connors

    I disagree with Steven. Rock'n'Roll isn't lost or in trouble. It's just that the days of records or groups coming along and blowing up the music scene as has been done in the past are gone. Technology today is far better than at anytime in music history, yet there is not the dominant group or artist drawing us in to the music the way The Beatles, Zepplin, CSNY, to name a few did 2 generations ago. The days of the multi-platinum, world tour type of groups that can impact the soul of the generation are gone. Sad.

    May 20, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  129. étranger

    Greed and racism killed rock. The greed of record company marketing that segregated rock in the early 1970s into all-white playlists on FM stations killed rock by budgeting tour-album support primarily for those white artists from or reflecting the mores of affluent suburban audiences, which thus (a) robbed rock of its multi-cultural roots and subversive content and (b) cut the tree, if you will, from its roots in African-American, non-European culture.

    At its best, rock––as evidenced in artists as Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Prince, Sly and the Family Stone, Cream, Santana, Aretha Franklin, Janice Joplin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, Traffic, Jeff Beck, et al––overtly drew from, referenced, and synthesized stances, genres, idioms, and identities that transcended race and gender.

    But the purveyors of AOR, punk, and, more recently, so-called "alternative" have practiced a cultural apartheid, on the one hand, and its promoters have thought themselves the makers of easy profit in narrowly targeting markets that never reflected America's diversity.

    A Faustian metaphor of rock's decline is, of course, Elvis: the young Elvis had his roots in country and blues, playing the miscegenation of country and blues. He sold his soul, in a manner of speaking, for a few pieces of silver. He ended up where rock is now.

    May 20, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  130. boocat

    All of today's music sucks....the minute the corporations got involved it was all about money and looks...check out Cameron Crowe's brilliant movie "Almost Famous." Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Lester Bangs (from that great rock and roll magazine, Creem) and he tells Cameron Crowe's character as a young 16 year old how "rock and roll is over...the bad guys won." This took place in the early 70's. Lester Bangs sure as hell knew what he was talking about.

    May 20, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  131. Eric

    I agree with Little Steve. But it's about being original. There is nothing new. Words, beat all done. But no one is putting their soul into the music. The emotions sold records in the '60 and '70s. You can identify with the song and the singer. Song writers like Billie Joel would tell you a story you can identify with.
    Where did it all go??

    May 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  132. Andrew McNelly

    Music HAS become, like so much else nowadays, a throwaway commodity-it's background noise to everything. I completely agree with Little Steven-there is a need in rock to look back, listen to, and absorb the history and music that has come before. The album needs to be promoted again-to see this work as an interactive cohesion of songs, images, and lyrics (consider Sgt. Pepper-how much more interactive can one album be?), and not destroy the cohesion by being only downloading one song here and there-that diluted the power, the feeling, the expression of what the musician was trying to convey. Songs nowadays are written to quickly catch on, because that 15 minutes might be all you get. Think of all the bands that have come (Zeppelin, U2, the Beatles, etc) that may not have made it passed a first single if it wasn't for the solid investment of the record label, realizing the potential might not come with the 1st, 2nd, or even 5th album, but that it will hit, and will make a tremendous impact.

    I also agree with Ben Z-parents should share the music they love with their children-that's how it gets passed on, and that's how culture gets enriched, and that's how those kids realize their own creative potential.

    May 20, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  133. dgs

    If I want to hear something good and interesting in the rawk-muzik genre, I just keep my ear out for interesting new stuff on the indie band, like Seattle's KEXP station. Currently listening to MGMT, Elbow, and Delays, and if you want to hear a band do interesting, sparkling originals _and_ some covers too, check out Delays. The _Lost Tunes_ EP is fun, and they should put out another one with a cover of the La's _There She Goes_ too – if you've ever heard "Hey Girl" from Delays first, _Faded Seaside Glamour_, you'd understand why. Listen to one of Delays' b-sides, "Panic Attacks," to see a newer band get rock 'n' roll right, while putting their own spin on it.

    The worst place to find interesting rock is corporate radio and similar media, with rare exceptions.

    May 20, 2009 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  134. Jan

    I recently saw Neil Young in concert........hard for me to believe that rock and roll is in any trouble after that.......still giving everything he's got, and there were a lot of young people there who were just as into it as the "old" fans that grew up with his music.


    May 20, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  135. Dave in DC

    Hey Biff,

    Thanks, I just checked out Airbourne on-line and they are soooo AC/DC.

    AC/DC is one of my top 5 bands!

    I now have a new bands to follow and buy the CD, me like.

    May 20, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  136. Joshua

    Rock-n-Roll has not died completely it is still out there. The issue is that MTV and the radio stations will not play it. They cater to the younger crowd that wants to hear songs about sex and dancing. Rock-n-Roll has always had sex in it but it used to also have an option about the world, it dealt in fantasy, and struggle. All we have on the radio now is happy pop. Maybe it is better to say that stations like MTV and the radio have died. Real music in every genera is still out there. You just have to look harder than you used too.

    May 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  137. Biff

    The concert promoters are freaking it out because none of the "new" bands, save Nickleback, can pack stadiums. But the ones that can, i.e. the Stones, Aerosmith, U2, Bruce, are getting long in the tooth. Who are going to replace them?

    May 20, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  138. Ben Z

    Rock music isn't dead, but it's slowly dying. It's being replaced with these power-chording Jonas Brother-ish bands with thousand-dollar guitars that they only strum on the low strings and on the first 8 frets. Every new-era song that I hear on the radio sounds like it came out of an assembly line. They all have the same format. I can actually anticipate how the rest of the song is going to go after only listening for a minute or so. How pathetic is that?

    I think the problem of not having any truly great artists emerge has to do with the music we're feeding our kids. Read Slash's biography, or listen to Lars Ulrich's acceptance speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony. They both noted how their parents always had some form of music on that consciously or subconsciously inspired them. How often does that occur today? Probably rarely – too many kids are playing video games on the couch while their parents work long hours in an economy that demands more than 40 hours per week. It's all connected

    May 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  139. Biff

    Clear Channel destroyed American radio.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  140. Biff

    Airbourne rocks. Check them out. They kick it old school like AC/DC.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  141. Pat

    Once upon a time, new music fans were born every day simply by turning on the radio. Rock is not dead – RADIO IS! Commercial radio in America sucks – and sucks badly! Like in the movie "That Thing You Do" great records used to break out of nowhere places on tiny labels and tear up the charts. 96 Tears was recorded in some living room in Flint Michigan. It took almost a year from its release to become a #1 record. Here in Chicago we have WXRT which breaks a lot of new bands but 60-75% of their playlist is 'old' stuff. Corporate ownership of radio has KILLED it. Clear Channel, Infinity, et al, know or care nothing about music. What they know is demographics. Playlist are determined by a handfull of corporate people instead of the idiosyncratic goofballs we used to call DJ's.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  142. Jeff Brown

    Rock music isn't dead it's hibernating. It has been lulled to sleep by no talent groups that are called "rock". The genre has been splintered into so many facets most listeners can't grasp them all. Any band that says they won't do covers are just ignorant. You don't know where to go in music if you don't know where the music has been. Oh yes Real Rock music will awake from its slumber and rise again like a Phoenix and I for one can't wait. So quiver in fear bands like Nickelback and the like, your day of reckoning is coming. One last thing...someone please put an end to American Idol and its continued dumbing down of America. The winners of this modern Ted Mack's Amateur Hour are the dregs at the bottom of the barrel. The real Idols are out there now playing at some seedy bar or club paying their dues and not schmoozing with Paula and Simon.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  143. Randy

    Van Zandt is right... modern rock music has been in serious trouble for some time now. I call it the "MTV Effect." There has always been the element of the visual appeal in Rock-n-Roll. Elvis might not have become the King if he hadn't been so damn sexy... true. But the other side of that is that he was putting out music that was new or being done in a new way with a level of quality. Through the 1960's that level of quality reached it's peak. Many bands and artists didn't really care what you thought of how they looked on stage, and many didn't even care if you bought their records. Then came MTV. The solidification of visual appeal over quality of playing. Since the 1980's we have seen more and more "artists" that don't really know how to play instruments and don't really understand the roots and history of what they're trying to accomplish. The past – Cream, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Yes, Pink Floyd... The present – Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, Usher, Good Charlotte... Ask yourselves, today, where are the B.B. Kings, the Eric Claptons, the Keith Moons and John Bohnams, the John Entwistles and Geddy Lees... who is the Neil Peart of your generation? Who in your list of favorite bands approaches that guitar with the passion and commitment to music like Carlos Santana? Don't get me wrong, there are bands out there that I like and listen to... but the number of performers today that are committed to writing quality songs and actually playing their instruments in innovative styles are extremely few and rare. You can't blame this completely on file sharing and the mp3. This is about record companies who for decades continued appealing the lowest common denominator in us all and promoting bands they could sell, not bands that would forever change the face of this thing that I love... ROCK AND ROLL!!

    May 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  144. Bevo

    As far as Rock n Roll goes. ANYTHING after 1989 sure seems to sound like crap to me. Yes I'm in my late 40's but music today is like movies. Here today, gone tomorrw.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  145. Dan Minter

    It's real simple–video killed the radio star-music is all about how people look and how skimpy they can get their outfits. When rock mattered, no one cared how Bob Dylan or Janice Joplin looked, but they sure did love what they had to say and how their music sounded...because it was good–period!!!!

    May 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  146. Flash

    Nickelback is the only original Rock group in awhile. The rest are crap.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  147. Dave in DC

    Reading some of the previous comments does make me stop to think. Yes, radio and the music industry does suck and keeps people from hearing new quality sounds/bands. It's all about the money. Yes, one does have to make a living but what ever happened to the way bands used to do it.

    I'm taking about small to mid-size clubs that would have a few bands play for the evening and be affordable? I don't want to have to pay a $45 cover plus $6.00/beer or $10.50 for my Bourbon & coke.

    Give me the blues on Bourbon St. in Memphis, bar hop with a $5.00 cover (or no cover) and $1.00 long necks. We don't have that in DC and doubt we ever will. Some are dives that smell like urine and puke but damn I have fun!!

    GOOD new bands just don't get promoted and its become soooo expensive to go anywhere anymore, so why bother. My attitude hurts these new quality bands because I never hear them or get intorduced to them and they don't gain a new fan. Maybe the blame is on me, maybe the music industry, maybe the bands themselves. Or maybe, just maybe I can blame it all on the Dollar?

    May 20, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  148. Crystiannia

    It depends on where you are looking and what you are hoping to find. Outside the states lies a world of great music that, sadly, will never get American airplay. I don't think it's rock n roll that is suffering, I think it's the fans.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  149. Beentheredonethat

    All of you are right, to some degree or another. And I think most of us saw these dismal days coming from a long ways off. I've been playing rock n roll since 1964, including having a great little wedding reception cover band for a decade, and it used to always amaze me at the *pure* enjoyment the pre/teens had at just standing there listening to my group jam out "A Whiter Shade of Pale," "Gloria," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Mustang Sally," and hundreds of others from the Rolling Stones to Chubby Checker.

    Of course they loved it: there are few kids out there today who can actually PLAY a guitar, who've sat by the hours and learned chords/songs from other guitarists or LPs/records. I actually wish there were, almost as much as I terribly miss those days as a teenager doing those things.

    But it's more than nostalgia; it's bemoaning the fact that whole generations of kids have missed out on something that they could have been working very hard at, something that might have eventually allowed them to get up on a stage with a Strat in their hands, a Fender Twin cranking CCR through the rafters, and several other members of their band joining in and blasting out "BORN ON THE BIJOU!"

    Oldies rock n roll isn't dead. It's just been put out to pasture by a younger generation who generally aren't into putting a lot of work into anything.

    Beentheredonethat in Texas

    May 20, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  150. Mike

    Rock & Roll isn't dead in Britain. That's because they know their music over there and they embrace good bands and good tunes.

    It's sad to see a product of the United States i.e. The Killers & Kings of Leon whose music depicts and is inspired by certain parts of our beautiful country not receive the respect that they deserve.

    It's time for American music lovers to realize this... Kurt Cobain is not coming back. Led Zeppellin left us in the 70's and Bruce Springstein can still give us all one hell of an album, but his music that inspired a nation to chant I was "born in the USA" can't be duplicated and will not be embraced by todays generation of music purchasers.

    Give new music a listen, because there are some great young bands that need our attention. I'm 24 years old and can still remember the first time I heard The Beatles, or The Who. You know what, I can still remember the first time I heard The Strokes and The Arctic Monkeys too. That's because it's all great music and it's time for American music lovers to embrace it for what it is...Good Rock N' Roll.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  151. RK

    He is absolutely correct about the music being released today sucking. Musicianship is sorely lacking, bands who learned their melodic talents from nursery rhymes, mediocre bozos made to sound good with pro tools. But he is wrong that good music is not out there. The good music is out in your local bars and clubs. These bands will probably never get their shot at a record contract. Why? Here's why.

    The music industry is a business and that business is run by record companies. As a business teacher explained to me long ago that
    Mc Donalds is not in business to sell burgers but is in business to maximize profits for it's share holders. The burgers are just the means by which they do it. So the record industry is just selling the product that consumers want to buy. Unfortunately the driving force in music currently happens to be 13 yo girls buying Britney Spears cd's or something equally as lame.

    So will good music ever again be released en masse? Not as long as little Sally is the driving force because she won't part with her babysitting money for anything that is not in the same vapid mold of Britney, Christina, Justin or some talentless boy band.

    If you want to change the music industry you have to speak the language of cash! Go out and really start buying what little good music is being produced. Then the record comapnies will get he message loud and clear.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  152. tb

    As already stated, there is good stuff out there but you have to find it yourself. The mainstream is a monotone blur.

    One thing that has gone a long way to kill music is the loudness war. Every song today is the same volume all the way through – LOUD. Dynamic range is dead. Music now has all the subtlety of a jackhammer. A lot of records now are audibly distorted. This greatly diminishes the satisfaction of listening to music and tires the ears.

    Another thing is the seemingly mandatory use of Pro Tools, which scrubs recordings of all human soul and imperfection, resulting in robotic, artificial blandness.

    Those two things make the sound of records unpalatable. And then there's the music...

    May 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  153. Joe

    Still good metal coming out of Europe – Germany, Norway, Italy, Britain, etc, even France and Ukraine. Just not much from the US. It's too commercialized here. You can still hear good metal at local festivals and clubs though. But with regard to metal tradecraft, many of the European groups I listen to were originally classically trained as opposed to garage trained. Of course, there are as many tastes in music as people – as it should be.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  154. Mr. Ed

    I'm with Little Stephen about 80% or so of the way. A lot of what he says is true, particularly as it relates to the current business model of the industry: a band like U2 or R.E.M. would not be given the three or four albums it took them to grow before their first big hit in today's market. Those early albums were great, but they didn't set the charts on fire; their labels, though, were committed and patient. We don't see that level of commitment or patience today, and music as a whole suffers for it.

    That said, there are some bands within or around the rock and roll neighborhood that merit our appreciation and who may one day rise to the level of esteem of performers such as those listed in djohnson's post. Songwriters like Richard Buckner and Damien Jurado would make The Boss proud. My Morning Jacket, Manchester Orchestra, The National, and The Decemberists are making literate, sonically exciting music with consistency. And Mastadon has offered up the heaviest metal I have heard in a decade (impatient Megadeth or disaffected Metallica fans would do well to check them out!).

    May 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  155. citizenUSA

    To me, rock and roll got pushed out of the way by the record companies for rap and hip-hop. They of course go where the money is. Let's face it, there is a cultural and racial divide when it comes to music. Most young black men and women don't listen to rock and roll. These days many young white men and women don't either. Is it because there are no new rock bands worth listening too? Maybe... Is it because the record companies are not supporting rock? Likely... Is it because there are so few over the airwaves rock and roll radio stations anymore? Thoughtworthy...
    I think veteran rock musicians need to be more influential in developing up and coming bands. Produce, teach, mentor. Just don't be a pathetic group of aging used to be's trying to, "be", again.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  156. Chaz

    Humans unite!! Rage against the machines!!!

    May 20, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  157. Steve Fitzpatrick

    Rock and roll began as an offshoot of a type of the blues, with a little bit of folk music and jazz thrown. It was a grass roots movement as was blues in its inception. Jazz is inherently experimental and rock and roll borrowed from this creed as well. The idea, from what I've heard from listening to interviews of blues artists, was to learn how to mechanically play your given instrument then adapt standards to your repertoire, all while communicating one's emotions and viewpoints plus entertaining an audience of group of record buyers. Sure everyone has wanted to be "rich" and "make it big" from the get-go but you have to really love something to work at it from a non-profit point of view, which is where most rock and roll bands start out.

    Little Steven is right: rock and roll a craft, and should be tackled with both fervency and skill. It takes work to actually play an instrument with proficiency and even more work to actually create your own music. It's worth it though.

    Playing previously written songs as well as emulating favorite musicians is certainly some of the ways to learn how to play one's instrument. In addition to this there are many self-help books and courses out there as well. Plus it never hurts to actually learn how to read music.

    Playing covers is fine as well but playing covers that mean something to an artist is powerful. Beyond even that is the act of creating art, using the tools that any given musician ultimately acquires through the sheer act of playing. One must also keep one's self open to learn from those who teach music, whether it's the talented street corner musician, a band-mate or an professor.

    That work, the work of sheer creativity (art) coupled with musical craft is being undermined right now by the mechanical conveyance of music to the largest population at the lowest common denominator. But what's new? In other words it is always easier and more profitable to fit round pegs than take a risk with the square pegs. Then you have the changing face of technology in the music industry which is a good thing more than a bad thing.

    While there are many musical projects out there that are attempts to pander to trends and marketing initiatives, there are plenty that are creating for the sheer desire to do so. These individuals and groups savagely promote themselves and continue to create excellent work. You find them all over MySpace and in any given locality. The technology that is available is making these bands more accessible to anybody wishing to listen. Technology is also enabling these acts to create quality music and sound on their own terms. While bland "popular" music, music that makes enormous amounts of money, continues to flourish in what's left of the "music industry" there is an enormous amount of exciting and more importantly, creative and experimental work out there. Because the pool is so vast, there is also a huge amount of what an individual may perceive as mediocre work as well. The fun and adventure is in the exploration of this huge amount of music that dwells outside of the often onerous music industry.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  158. Chaz

    Prince is right! Guitar hero and Rock band promote laziness that has become all too apparent in music today. The humans have lost computers now rule the airwaves. GH and RB and American Idol are just mental drugs the computers have used to keep the humans complacent and in line.

    May 20, 2009 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  159. Storm

    ok, While a bit offtopic.. Maybe we should STOP CALLING EVERYTHING ROCK. Yes Chuck Berry was rock. But alternative rock, country rock, indie rock. grunge rock.. Fine music, but it isnt rock. I havent heard any rock music made in years. The state of rock is comatose. There is some good stuff out there calling itself rock.. but the rock tag is now synonomous with "whats popular when produced"..

    Yes it's marketing, but stop, it's just getting offensive, were not morons, were ok if something isnt called rock.. please try it.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  160. djohnson

    Rock music has some bright spots, but I find that fewer groups know how to play their instruments well and craft music anymore. If you look at the great bands/songs, you can tell that the songs came together from a group of people who worked hard. Look at these bands and tell me that the music they spent hours/days/months/years crafting is being done by bands today

    The Boss and E street
    Led Zep
    Pink Floyd
    The Clash
    Rolling Stones

    Can you honestly point to a band in the last few years that can write music like these bands?

    May 20, 2009 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  161. Betty Willrock

    Lets hope that something better than Rock comes along. When audiences started favoring visual performance (dancing & stage antics, flashing lights & flashy props) and non-music(Rap, hip-hop)the music became secondary. There's only been a few rock bands all along that have played good melodies, cool arrangements and had excellent musicians who played together as an ensemble(all working together to make something bigger than the individuals). In fifty years people will still listen to bands similar to The Doors, Santana, Cream, Blind Faith and The Allman Brothers. Not many others will be remembered because most of the rest just doesn't hold up to close listening. Yep...looks like Rock is dead.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  162. Chris

    "Rock is dead."

    This phrase has been thrown around a lot in the past few wait, decade...excuse me–since Kurt Cobain died. And before Nirvana, well, rock was dead then too. And before Guns 'N Roses, rock died back then too. And when John Lennon died, rock died with him. The list goes on and on. That's it! I'm sick of it! Rock is always "dead" according to "authorities" on the subject. I want everyone to take a stand against such asinine comments

    What we hear on the radio is apparently what people classify as "rock," and this is because it is commercially-produced music for the average listener. It is aimed at those who have yet to evolve their tastes past what they are force-fed. If this sounds pretentious, I apologize. I am simply exhausted by the amount of people that criticize an art that has moved past them. The general public is largely disconnected with music, and it is heartbreaking. Yes, that includes you, Little Stevie (I love The Sopranos, but come on–do some research!). Commercial radio does not play the much of the best music that is released, largely due to the fact that they fear it will result in a drop in listeners. That's fine. That's business. When people begin to make bold claims such as "Rock is dead," I start to take it personally. Rock is an ever-evolving genre, and when the radio experiences a lull in good music, it is not because there is no available good music; is because we are in the midst of change. We need to stop being told what to listen to and become individuals. We think and feel differently...why should we all listen to the same music?

    I am someone who is largely defined by my music tastes. In high school, I also thought rock was dead. I listened to the radio, and never heard anything with staying power. Songs came as fast as they went, largely forgettable and ephemeral. Once I got to college, I shunned the radio and started searching for music on my own. I was stunned to find the plethora of music that was not only engaging, but absolutely gorgeous (and rocking!). My music tastes have evolved well beyond where I ever thought they could, and I have never been more passionate about music. It is my livelihood–I listen to it constantly.

    There are some that say, "Well why should I have to search for music?" You don't have to–just don't complain about it. For those who really want to make a statement, however, a few words of advice: It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of the music you like except for you. Be original. Use the internet, your friends, iTunes, whatever works–because once you find that music you think rocks, you'll know that Steven Van Zandt is wrong. Just look at all the great music that has come out this year alone: Animal Collective, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Bat For Lashes, Franz Ferdinand, Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Japandroids etc. And don't forget bands like Radiohead, who (I believe) are the greatest band in the world. They are purveyors of change. You want to tell me that rock is dead? HA! Indie rock is thriving.

    Why don't you do something about it and stop waiting for music to come to you?

    May 20, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  163. Terry from New York

    The American Idol show and others like it only put pretty young people on who frankly for the most part are not uniquely talented. People who aren't pretty get left behind nowadays even if they sing like the stars they should be. If Barbra Streisand were just starting out she'd not get a break, kind of like Susan the Scots lady. The bands are a bunch of pretty boys and girls who bands are manufactered by managers or record companies. Mick Jagger wouldn't make it today. The bands with talent and new sounds are left behind because the companies don't want to take risks – just give the kids (and the rest of us) pretty people who wear sexy costumes and girate erotically and they'll be happy. Of course that's wrong, we the public want to enjoy real talent even if the talent looks ordinary – just give us talented song writers and gifted singers and musicians and the CD etc. will sell again. Its all bland bland bland now- but pretty.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  164. Dave

    April 8, 1994 – the day the music died. R.I.P. Curt.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  165. Tom

    Rock and Roll is alive and well. The music business is dead. The industry never bothered to adapt to the internet and Steve Jobs took their business right out from under them. Good riddance, if you ask me.
    If you want to hear great Rock and Roll music being made today, buy the latest record from Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, Wilco, and any band having Jack White in it.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  166. JC Weber

    I think he is right. Today's music is a boring un-original marketing gimmic. Everyone in the industry today is out to make a quick buck vs putting their heart and soul into what they should believe in...which is making good music that the next generation will still be listening to. Believe it or not, there are still some really good bands out there, but you won't be hearing them anytime soon on any of the corporate radio stations including the now "Sell Out" XMSirius conglomarate. Long live the Indi Nation on keeping it real and keeping it underground!!!

    May 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  167. smbitterman

    I think that there are a few good musicians out there with some great music being put out. I think that groups like Nickelback are bringing back some of the classic guitar-ladened songs of my youth. The problem I have is with the Disney/Nickelodeon juggernaut putting out these bubble-gum pop, no-talent acts, such as anything from High School Musical or the Jonas Brothers. These are the "acts" that are killing music!

    May 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  168. a ketch

    There's lots of good rock out there...just not good "popular" rock. But who cares about top 40 anyway....
    My Morning Jacket, Tokyo Police Club, MGMT, Radiohead, TV on the Radio, Kings of Leon, Foals, Beck, Bloc Party, Elbow, Republic Tigers...all making great rock music!!! Just not junk to hear on the radio.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  169. BadKharmaBuddhaBoy

    Rock 'n Roll is in a state of crisis because music of today sucks? Sounds like someone is a little too old to be rock then. Granted there is very little of today's bands I like but the ones that I do like I love just as passionately as the bands I loved growing up. However part of Van Zandt is right, becuase of the music business knuckleheads who cheap out by looking for bands who are marketable to a certain age group instead of by talent will eventually be challenged by their markets. There will always be a demand for Pop music and I think that it's important to have that subgenre around so we have others who won't fall to the snares of marketablity and compromise on their quality of music. Now as to say today's music stinks because music sales are down is a cry from a whiney titty-baby. Every generation has their heroes and usually looks down upon the next generation's choice in music. I love the Misfits, which are from my generation. I can tolerane some Green Day and I despise My Chemical Romance. I think this is the way it is with every type of music and every generation. Your heroes aren't my heroes kinda thing. Another thing I do think the majority of musical talent are the ones who aren't on the music industy's map. Most of the bands I like are on little independent labes eeking out a living by getting noticed by word of mouth or self promotion and no one in the business gives these hard working people any props. Another issue is the music industry itself. You wanna change the face of rock 'n roll you get rock 'n roll radio stations to play something else other than the current bands new songs. Play old stuff play new stuff that isn't promoted by deep pockets. Part of the reason I don't listen to contemporary radio is because I get sick and tired of hearing the new Godsmack song for the 10th time in an hour (with an occsional Black Sabbath or Led Zepplin song thrown in). If you think rock 'n roll's youth is wondering around in a music wasteland then it's because the music industry dictates that. I feel the music idustry needs to be gutted and overhauled much like how big businees needs to be done after this whole economic fiasco. The problem is that the people running the music industry don't care about the music but about the profits.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  170. Brian Layton

    The staying power of rock n roll is obvious. What other genre of music has held up over 40 years? The problem is: how many classic rock stations do we need.? I am tired of Dust In The Wind. There are contemporary artists that carry the classic rock torch but because of corporations like Clear Channel dominating the industry with scripted programming, today's artists don't get the airplay necessary. Let's get back to album oriented rock playlists and expose the deeper cuts on current releases by current artists.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  171. RVC

    Stevie hits the nail on the head. 85% of bands out there simply don't know how to play instruments. Period. It's a joke. Instead of taking the time to learn about music theory and musicianship the focus is on the band's image or name. It's actually become vogue to NOT know how to play music correctly because this is the "new sound." The focus really should not be on rock, but on music in general; how many times can you listen to the same five chords being played? A crisis of craftsmanship indeed.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  172. Noel McCarthy

    Steve Van Zandt is absolutely dead on: most of what gets churned out by the major labels (and a lot of the indies too) is utter junk. Whether that has anything to do with with a lack of historical knowledge on the part of today's musicians is debatable. The major reason for the dearth of good music is the attitude of the labels themselves. Gone are the days when bands and singers were signed early in their careers, then encouraged to develop slowly, learning how to mount a good show, etc. Now all the labels want is pre-packaged, easy-to-define (and therefore easy to market), unoriginal dreck. Yes, the bands/singers have something to do with it, but not much. As for learning how to play covers, it's a great way to plug into a cornucopia of rich musical history. But first, let's stop calling it playing "covers". Rock, pop, Blues, Hip-hop are all pop music variants/styles, and over the last 50 years they've grown into what I would call a repertoire–a repository of "folk" music (after all, it is music by the people ,for the people) that we can delve into and reinterpret. It constitutes as rich a heritage as any classical catalog, and no one criticizes Boulez for re-recording Mozart, any more than Domingo is "bad" because he interprets Puccini again. So let's see pop, aka "folk", music for what it is. Perhaps Van Zandt's polemic will start a fruitful debate. Long live rock n' roll!

    May 20, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  173. r dan

    If I believe in one thing about rock and roll it is that you never slag another kid's music 'cause sometime a kid's favorite music is the only flag he has to wave.

    If music means something to a listener it works even if all of us think it is junk.

    I've been buying records since '63, I ran records stores a quarter of my adult life. I have heard lots of great music and lots of true junk. It isn't that rock and roll is dying it is evolving. The music biz may be in trouble but the music is going until everybody gives up.

    People like Little Steven need to shake up and challenge people so we can demand better music from the labels. Like others have said the music is out there. In the 45 years since "She Loves You"(first 45) [I had plenty of kiddle records prior to that but it was my first big kid record] what I always cared about was being able to "hear" the music. It never mattered to me if it came from a label. I just want to hear it. That's what made the late 70's fun, people figured out again, that you could play for fun, like Steven and his buddies must have. You can tell when you listen to him.

    With that said until a guy like Doug Sahm is in the Hall of Fame instead of some of the other acts there, the spirit of rock and roll is in trouble. A show by Doug was a history lesson, a rave and a rock out. It was better than a tent revival and if you didn't come out sweaty were you even there. Steven talks about covers...Doug paid respect to the heroes of American music in every set. His version of "My Girl" is what I sing by myself in the car. I agree that more bands need to study the masters but then again I'm someone the masters spoke to.

    When I was a kid hanging out at Grand Ole Opry road shows(live music is life music and it takes all kinds) I wondered what rock would be like when I was an old guy. would bands tour in showcase tours like the Opry or the old days. Would there still be "good" music.

    Now that the calendar says I on my way to old guy-ville music still speaks to me. I go see live bands when I can , some knock me out and others sound no different than tons of others. I don't get lots of new music what.

    we just gotta keep rockin'

    May 20, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  174. Gordon C

    I'm in my mid-twenties and still love the heavier side of rock. I've only bought the new Metallica album as well as System of a Down's albums the last few years. I love to listen to the 80's metal as well as classic rock, but hardly do I ever enjoy listening to the mainstream rock that's covered on most radio stations. I think the rock in the 90s was much better and much more unique–I can hardly tell the difference between the new bands. So I can say without a doubt I've been bored of music since 2000.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  175. Ric

    Music does suck today. I've been in the Biz for 27 years and it has nothing but decline. Once in a great while you hear a new song that might stand the test of time, but in general, you hear them on the radio and they disappear from history. Plenty of great musicians however their song writing skills are so lacking. It's sad!

    May 20, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  176. mike

    Where are the music genious @ ? Music Musas have left the earth !

    i still listen to Scorpions , Rock you like a hurricane !

    May 20, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  177. Seth

    The music business has been greatly altered by the computer age. Now days any artist can post a myspace page or limitless other areas. The music industry however keeps trying to plug old fashioned methods of business that dont make sense in this day or age. I do agree there is plenty of bad music out there. I dont appreciate a woman shouting in a childlike rant "thats not my name." Really? That is important enough to write a song about? Everyone gets called by the wrong name but it hardly constitutes a meaningul dialogue that should last longer than 30 seconds in conversation. This artist has greatly heard this criticism though.

    Hip hop artistry has dissolved into video game sounds and slow sloppy rapping styles sampling songs that were better left alone. I was never so happy as when hip hop stopped making former great artists sound like chipmunks. I used to do that as a kid with my records, again not artistry.

    Originality has greatly been lost. Lady Gaga, Kevin Rudolf, all over "pop"ularized by safe and forgetable instrumentation, lyrics, and sometimes a synthed rapped voice to hide the fact that someone doesnt have one. The music industry prevents originality in cases aside from these. They formulate and ruin great artists and turn them into a repeated product.

    I think if a person wants to hear great music these days they have to think on a smaller level because the big guns are only interested in what can be sold to every grandma, teen, and everyone in between. That does not translate into music that is memorable or that leaves a last mark. It is interesting to me that following the Grunge movement, greatly pushed by the music industry, that they have stuck so closely with the same synth pop for nearly 15 years. Perhaps it is because they dont like the crash and burn of something they built up so highly into something it was not.

    Some of the best music, as in that instance, isnt about the music industry. It is about the people that listen to it. I think those that care about quality music know that isnt where they are going to find it. The music industry makes it into something it wasnt meant to be in the first place, about business, not people.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  178. DJ Johnson

    I agree there's a lot of good rock out there, but as hinted at by others, it's mostly bands very few people will ever hear of because there's no interest within the broadcast industry to play that music. It began with large companies buying up all the local-level radio stations and telling them what to play, computer-generated lists based on what sold LAST week, etc. It also has a lot to do with the fact that the largest blocks of listeners aren't really interested in listening so much as having beats as the soundtrack to their conversations and texting. That's fine, there's nothing you can do to change that group of people, but the only thing that will save the music is if the industry stops catering only to the largest blocks of listeners. Creative radio programming must return to expose people to these (forced) underground bands. That means we need MUSIC people on the radio again, not just button-pushers. We need people who recognize a great tune when they hear one and have the green light to play those songs when they want to. You know what happens today if some DJ decides to play something by a little known but extremely talent band? He or she is fired. Having worked in that industry when you COULD play a deserving band's music without a court order, I really feel that has to be the starting point for any effort of this sort. It'll take a step two and a step three, but they'll be useless steps unless broadcast stations are behind it.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  179. BURNT FUR

    The square pegs are being shoved out of existence. Since music is now considered "free" by so many illegal downloaders, the square pegs aren't even getting INVOLVED anymore. This very week I contimplate ending our band (Burnt Fur) because why bother? At this point I only make great songs because I HAVE TO for my sanity. If I stopped writing I would go insane. This is the type of person that needs to make it but is being ignored. The clubs don't promote anything but the band is supposed to, everyone wants your tracks for free, the studios aren't reducing any costs and neither are the production companies, the labels don't assist the bands or even look for new ones, the bands have to come up with their own money to tour apparently from thin air, and the consumer does not care about how music is made just that it exists. So anyone with a laptop and an idea how to make noise with it can make a hit song by cut and paste–IF THEY ARE A POPULAR PERSON OR LOOK LIKE WHAT IS FASHIONABLE AT THIS VERY MOMENT. Otherwise, see ya. That's what is ruining rock 'n' roll. Our band does actually cover other bands, simply because we want to point out that we KNOW The Cure's entire back catalog by heart, that we actually know other songs besides "Don't You Want Me" from The Human League, that Blondie has great album tracks, for example. We refuse to cover the hits. So NO, the music does NOT suck, especially this decade. I might have made that argument when emo had it's day or the grunge/marketing machine was ruining alternative music, but not now. Not now that we finally, finally realized that new wave is a viable genre and not dead with the '80s and the synthesizer is not to be shunned entirely. The only way out I can think of is heavy and numerous fines for illegal downloads. In addition ALL labels need to provide promotional downloads for free on their sites so that there is some free content for those that simply will not spend the pathetic dollar to purchase a song they want to carry with them everywhere.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  180. John

    Blame Guitar Hero. In the time it takes to figure out the controller, I could teach you three chords on a REAL guitar. Ps GH is just another attempt to castrate the power of ROCK. "See! Look, I'm a Rock Star!!" Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

    May 20, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  181. Matt Mcd

    Well lets see, thrown in a CCR album, or Beatles album and watch your foot begin to tap and then pay attention to the music and what it has to say.. Do It Again by Steely Dan, who is writing that kind of memorable stuff today??
    While movies continue to set trends and break new groud, new music is boring same ole same ole 'shake your booty to the ground' stuff or 'explore why you are so sad as an individual' type stuff. That kind of writing is as lasting as Tretorn shoes or parachute pants. It all is very lacking of wit or any cohesiveness.
    Look at the the 60's, 70's, 80's, and even 90's fantastic band after fantastic band was coming out, now of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder and taste is relative and this is also not saying that there aren't a few great memorable bands that are coming out but really the art is dying to sad versions of sampled dance songs that hash out 'Booty dropping' and 'You're to good for him/her' nonsense. How many times do we have to hear the same stuff.
    But then again that is music and maybe the evolution of music really just refines until it gets us to the one thing that we care about more than art of the desire to care for each other are challenge us and that would be sex and personal aesthetics. Sex sells and that is the bottom line anymore.
    What am I doing about my position? Nada just listening to the good stuff that todays generation is clueless or careless of.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  182. Dan

    Rock & Roll is dead.

    You have killed all of your legends and taken pride in putting regular everyday people into their places, so as to feel like you're doing something with your own life.

    There used to be a platform that we put Rock Gods on, now everyone thinks they are one because they record in their mother's basement.

    Dollar signs have replaced creativity. Ignorance has become the normal.

    Rap artists who can't rap, but have a dance. Singers who can't sing so they pitch correct their voices and get away with it. Pop singers who just lip sing. Bands like Coldplay ripping off small band's from Brooklyn.

    Steven is exactly right.

    The last classic album to come out was The Arcade Fire's Funeral. It's been like 6 years since that.

    Although playing covers doesn't exactly spawn creativity.

    We are at point where you aren't going to reinvent guitar, so you better have good influences and an imagination.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  183. Alex

    The biggest problem with music in general is that people aren't listening to music anymore. It's all background noise that people download without thinking because it's all free or almost free. Also, the fact music is now seen as disposible – MP3s are temporary media, not permanent like CDs and vinyl – so there's little emotional investment in the music anymore. And then we have garbage like American Idol which, among other things, forces the contestants to sing cover versions instead of coming up with original music. Let's see the Top 5 try to write songs for a change! What little innovation there is is taking place almost in the underground, or in small niche markets. Everyone else just seems to be either copying other people or self-plagerizing.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |

    Periodically, I will go through fits of despair, rock is dead, blah, blah, blah. Episode I- Saved by the discovery of REM. Episode II-Saved by Smashing Pumpkins. Episode III- Saved by Radiohead. Episode IV- Saved by Wilco.
    I'm waiting for the next saviour to re-invigorate rock. There may not be one. Maybe, it's had it's time in the sun. There WILL be something good later. It's the nature of the creative impulse. It just may not be rock.
    We'll see what's next.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  185. LARRY HOY

    I agree, if you're talking about American music. Check out Europe, even South America. There's lots of good music being put out, today! I'm a Metal listener tmyself.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  186. LJ Burgess

    I don't know where Steve-O is looking but it obviously ain't the right places.

    Newer bands play the hell out of covers in live shows, and they're really good at covers too. Covers seem to be immensely popular in the Indie scene.

    Check out the charity compilation, "War Child – Heroes".

    If you need to find out what's hot, what was hot, what will be hot, you need to hit the blog aggregates like Hype Machine or

    You can do quick searches for known artists or click on "what's hot" and find out where music is headed.

    I'm 55 years old...I love the new and emerging artists and there are thousands of them to discover very year.

    I think Stevie is still listening to run of the mill FM stations.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  187. Steve

    At the risk of sounding like an old fogey.....if you compare the period of say 1966 – 1976 (Doors, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, etc) to the last 10-12 years or so – I don't see how any honest person can say the quality of rock music hasn't dropped signifigantly. I agree that much has to do with the lack of commitment, especially learning guitar-playing, which requires hundreds of hours of solitude and repetition. Used to be you could distinguish rock songs by music alone, be it a Neil Peart drum solo, Townshend or Richards' guitar tunings, or any number of distinct vocalists. I remember actually having favorite bass players!
    Does anyone these days want to "play like Fallout Boy?" I hope this great genre is not finally dead.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  188. Patricia

    There is definitely a lack of good rock & roll these days. My 20 year old sons listens (by his own choice) to older releases – Hendirx, etc. However, in my neck of the woods, just turn on KRVS FM any given morning and a good part of the day on Saturdays and Sundays to listen to some of the most innovative music around. Zydeco & Cajun. Buckwheat Zydeco, CJ Chenier, Steve Riley. The list goes on. These muscians are intergrating traditional Zydeco, Cajun, rock, and whatever else tickles their fancy into some of the best music today. These are truly great musicians who learned at the feet of their elder great muscians. Radio stations like KRVS (UL at Lafayette radio station) and KBON out of Crowley, LA should really be thanked for giving Zydeco and Cajun (and a lot of other "roots" music) a venue in this time of pre-recorded radio shlock!

    May 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  189. keefus

    The current state of popular music is terrible. It reminds me of the mid-70's "Mellow Rock" that was obliterated by Punk in 1977, or the early 90's when "Hair Band Heavy Metal" was displaced by Grunge.

    I'm just hoping that something comes along soon that shakes the music business out of it's current coma of mediocrity.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  190. richard osborne

    I grew up in an era when it was "all about the music", specifically, rock music. With that clue, you can probably guess my age. I believe that rock music is first, an emotion, then a craft. The craft aspect that Springsteen mentions is the technical aspects of producing the music. The key is the emotion that powers the rock sounds, the lyrics and the overall sense of feeling the music.

    Face it, rock music as we have long enjoyed it is dead and the need is for the " next big thing". My children will never feel the emotional alchemy that I feel towards rock any more than I felt the WW II sensibility that made my parents love Big Band music.

    While I will likely never truly appreciate the next music sensation that will inevitably transform the music industry, I understand that it is time to move beyond the derivative drek that is being produced.

    Lastly, I will continue to treasure the rock songs that shaped my life and play those songs as loud as ever. Bruce and Stevie, unfortunately we share a love of the music that is now old fashioned and you are playing to a shrinking audience that includes me.

    May 20, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  191. Barbara R

    I completely agree with Steven! There are a few good bands out there putting out new music and covers. However, they are hard to find!

    The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame made a good move inducting Metallica. Whether you like them or not they have been very influential and that genre of rock is still putting out pretty good stuff.

    A lot of bands are re-issuing older albums instead of creating new music which is definitely taking the lazy way out.

    On the other hand some bands can't make enough money to cover their costs to put out new music because of all of the downloading for free. We all need to support the good bands out there, buy their cd's, or at least pay for the music, and support them by going to their concerts.

    May 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  192. James C.

    I agree with Steve 100% BUT there's some great talent out there you just have to dig a little bit. Ryan Adams is a great example BGC, you also have John Mayer going in his own direction now which is in a very bluesy vein. We had Jeff Buckley at one time, but his music lives on. And then we have up and comers like Neil Teiman (David Cook's guitarist) who sweats Rock n' Roll and even a nearly unheard of Mikey Ohlin (singer/ songwriter from Dallas) who's putting in his time in the trenches. I think the future of Rock n' Roll is alive and well, you just have to look past the cheap T'shirt of bubble gum pop and cookie cutter bands that are out there to get to the heart and soul of it all.

    May 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  193. Dan D

    rock in general is dead.. and I don't see anything out on the horizon coming along to revive it short of possibly a true GnR reunion.. too much fluff. In my opinion, Idol needs to go away as well. If you're talented, you'll find your way. I don't need Sue, Billy and Tommy voting for tomorrow's singing sensation..

    May 20, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  194. Jim Martin

    I couldn't agree more with the sentiment, but I'm not sure what can be done about it by any institution or individual. Essentially, I see the music business as in a similar phase to the 1950's and early 1960's. Top 40, flash in the pan bands (all all genres, not just rock) being set up and groomed to churn out xeroxed pop singles carefully written for them. Here today and gone tomorrow, these musicians are simply used for the moment then thrown away.

    In the 1960s this mold was shattered by bands like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and others. However, businessmen slowly adapted to the new environment and we are now full circle.
    In order to break through, we need a new infusion of grass roots bands that actually have something to say musically.

    In popular music, there used to be transcendent albums that would break through genres and have a wider meaning. I can name some of them: Dark Side of the Moon, Toys in the Attic, London Calling, Never Mind the Bollocks, Purple Rain, Synchroncity, Nevermind, Odelay. That being said, it has been a long time since something transcendent came out of rock. Here is to a new generation of pioneers!


    May 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  195. BGC

    Great music is still out there, it's just harder to find because it's not mainstream anymore. Wilco, Ryan Adams, The Hold Steady, are all releasing new music.

    May 20, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  196. Al Morrow

    Of course Steve is right. I haven't heard anything new that made me want to buy it in ages. Things like pitch correction machines have made it possible for the least talented of singers to sound half decent. I play guitar, and sing in a cover band in San Francisco. We do Stones, Byrds, Burritos, Who, Big Star, Creedence, and tons of others(and not necessarily the big hits). I'm amazed that we go over really well with college age kids...I think they are starved for the real deal. Keep after'em Steve:)

    May 20, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  197. Mark Z


    I like Steven, but I'm surprised to hear him say that there isn't much good music coming out. There are tons of great bands out there, and he should know that as well as anyone. Most of these bands aren't selling a zillion records, but they're out there.

    He's right that labels aren't spending the kind of money on artist development that they used to, and that's a shame. The industry is in a disaster of its own making, but on the positive side, the power is shifting from the labels to the artists as a result. Within 10 years, managers will probably be breaking as many bands as the labels, and in 25 years, labels will most likely evolve into extensions of the artists who run them.

    Long story short – Rocknroll is alive and well, and regardless of what kind of shape the "music industry" is in, the music isn't suffering.

    May 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |

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