Joan Jett and the Blackhearts may not have written the iconic song ‘I love Rock N Roll’, but sure made it famous in the 80’s, epitomising the rock culture of the latter half of the twentieth century.
I remember the scenes on MTV’s coverage of Woodstock where she performed the song, showing muddy hippies and blunt high rockers mashing and sliding in their tens of thousands as people echoed the chorus... to be heard for miles away.
My first affair with rock, as so many others, was with the birth of Grunge and the rise of Nirvana... I was in standard five at the time they made it big, and the Techno hype that was 2 Unlimited at the time, soon lost all of its appeal, as compilations such as Monster Hits and the rest appeared without soul and as talentless as S.A tennis compared to what Seattle gave world.
From there on end I was sold on Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Metallica and the legion of 90’s Grunge, Metal and Rock bands to follow.
I and my friends even started a school band, which subsequently introduced me to the world of being a bass guitarist, after having strummed it out on my first nylon string box guitar for a year or so beforehand.
We even made a five song CD... in some guy’s living room (he referred to it as a recording studio), making us believe he really knew what he was doing.
In retrospect, believing that a part time truck driver whose claim to fame was being a roadie for Dire Straits decades back... was kind of stupid, as the CD also contained background noises including his telephone ringing and dog barking!
But, we didn’t care.
In our minds the phone was someone interrupting brilliance, and the dog was probably cheering, purely because we thought we were gods when we whipped out the finished product for our friends and families to see.
True, the CD wasn’t great... in fact, I suppose you could call it quite terrible, but it didn’t matter, because it was ours. Our own songs, written by us and recorded with our own money...
... Rock and roll baby!
As is the path of many a garage school band, we eventually split up... some of us left school for university, some immigrated to Canada... but the essence of our love for rock never died. We would still, to this day consider it sacrilege if one of us were to tolerate any electronic music at the cost of good old Rock.
I myself stood firm on the old hill of rock, as my criticism for previous greats underlined my commitment to the cause. Bush, with their epic album ‘Sixteen Stone’ managed to just lose the plot from there... Live only managed one great album in ‘Throwing Copper’, just to fall from grace to the same level I rate all Indy Rock bands today... nowhere... in fact the entire genre could go back to the hell it came from for all I care!
It would thus only be natural that I became an avid Oppikoppi attendee, and after a three year absence, I survived my eighth visit to Northam the past weekend... only just by the way.
My wife lost her Oppi-Virgin as well this year, and for someone who requires clean toilets, her response was quite profound to the dust ridden festival... quite to my surprise actually.
Few things, if any, compare to brilliant rock music in the form of Aking and FokofPolisiekar in the middle of nowhere. I even found myself somewhat emotional at times during the shows the former and latter put together. In fact, it was the ability of FokofPolisiekar to mesmerise a crowd of 15 000+ with a world class performance that punted this article...
It occurred to me that you didn’t need to be a rock fanatic like myself to get carried away with a good show. It’s almost like a good James Bond movie... over the top, loud, fast and in your face... and it’s the only place where all these elements together are more than acceptable... in fact... it works brilliantly, and you wouldn’t expect anything less of it!
Of course, none of this would have been there, had it not been for the classics. Bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith were part of the fanatic movement... in turn being preceded by The Beatles and all of them sharing Elvis Presley DNA.
Rock had become the purist view of things considering music, especially in today’s day and age. It is impossible to rate music as either good or bad, without making use of the rock benchmark... in my view anyway.
I often heard people complaining that we don’t see anything new these days, especially in music and movies. It’s as if the creativity of old had been lost by the world.
I love Rock and Roll!
Entertainers make music to world trends, instead of creating their own. Everything became consumer focussed; music just started covering old songs, with their own twist, movies become trilogies and remakes of old classics, simply because it sells.
Let’s face it, consumers are boring, safe and always think beige... most people that know absolutely nothing pass themselves as gurus these days... everyone is some kind of consultant, and when you dig deeper, you find they basically just disburse knowledge others are too scared to follow on their own, granting legitimacy to what you were thinking on your own in anyway.
The world has lost its boldness... dare I say it... its balls!
But not Rock...
Rock built the boldness and gave the world guts. Rock inspired a generation of youngsters to stand up and to question authority. Rock bolstered anti war campaigns and furthered the cause of human rights. Rock inspired the ballads the world as we know it is defined as. (Don’t lie...you’re humming ‘The Wall’ by Pink Floyd in your head now...right?)
From music festivals, to epic albums to rock ballads that give you goose bumps when your middle of the road radio station suddenly plays it whilst you curse at traffic, Rock is in all of it.
It makes you wave a lighter in a crowd, it makes you pump a fist in the air... it waters your windows to the world... and all you manage to whisper through your creaky voice, is... ‘I love Rock and Roll!’