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"If you ain't got it in you, you can't blow it out."
— Louis Armstrong

Thursday, February 16, 2012

JAZZ TODAY: Rock is the New Jazz

Here is the start of today's new JAZZ TODAY column over at PopMatters. To read the whole thing, you gots to go to: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/154630-rock-is-the-new-jazz.-sorry-rock/

Hardly anyone is listening to rock these days. Sure, dinosaurs like the Rolling Stones remain huge draws on the road—baby boomer fans can afford the $150 ticket price to relive the old days. But the future, measured by radio play and music sold and people under the age of 30 caring about a new album by Bruce Springsteen or Wilco or The Hold Steady—the future points away from “rock”.

The hip-hop wave has fully washed over the beach.

A visit to the Billboard Hot 100 today yields only two songs in the top 20 that could be argued to be “rock”. Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” (#13) sounds utterly not like rock (dancebeat bass drum, the tinge of auto-tune, a chirping synth hook), and Gavin DeGraw’s “Not Over You” comes a little closer though it seems more like a pop throwback tune than anything with a genuine edge. Further down the chart there’s a little country and one indie-rock hit (Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”) and that’s about it. The Black Keys in position 67 are pretty much the flag-wavers for “rock” in early 2012.

Rock, in other words, is The New Jazz.  And Rock, horrible as this may sound, jazz and I have some good news and advice for you.

Get Used to Being Unpopular. It has its advantages.

First, Rock, don’t despair. Not being popular is simply not as bad as it sounds. You are no longer sitting at the Popular Kids’ Table in the cafeteria, it’s true. But now you have the chance to develop some serious nerd cred, to get listened to carefully, and to get serious without turning off your fans.

You see, Rock, you are slowly morphing into jazz—a style of music that once was very popular but then was supplanted by the cooler young thing (uh, you) and had to discover new ways to survive. Is it hard to believe, from 2012’s distant perspective, that there was a time when America positively fluttered and moved to swing rather than a backbeat? It’s true. Dance halls once were the province of Benny Goodman rather than techno. And squeezed somewhere in the middle there, Rock, was you. Everything passes into history.

Sure, you’ll still be on magazine covers for the foreseeable future, just like Dave Brubeck and Wynton Marsalis and their ilk. But you’ll see, the days when your every move was a public matter are over. Big stars can’t walk the sidewalks in their heyday, but do you think that Ryan Reynolds will have any trouble walking into a Burger King when he is 65? Unlikely, Rock. And so with you.

Being jazz ain’t that bad. But it’s not glamorous. And there’s a price. Here are the details.

Read more HERE.