Last night a pretty incredible benefit concert was held at Madison Square Garden to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. This so-called “12/12/12” concert was jam-packed with tons of talent: The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, and The Who were there just to name a few. Of course today all anyone can talk about is Sir Paul McCartney and the surviving members of Nirvana. Apparently Nirvana and McCartney got together and recorded a song for a documentary Dave Grohl put together called SOUND CITY.
The song’s called “Cut Me Some Slack” and it’s surprisingly not the horrible train-wreck you’d expect from a Paul McCartney-fronted Nirvana. Not that there’s anything wrong with either Paul or Nirvana, it’s just not two things I’d expect to go together very well. Sure, Cobain worshipped The Beatles and infused his own music with their unique pop-sensibilities (although he made them heavier) but when I think of Nirvana I don’t think of The Beatles. Whereas The Beatles were very much a peace and love band, Nirvana was angry and moody. Plus, McCartney is really getting up their in years and I’ve always associated Nirvana with youth. Destructive, unbridled, youth.
I guess maybe that’s why “Cut Me Some Slack” works so well: this isn’t a young version of Nirvana. Hell, this isn’t even really Nirvana. Yes, I went there. I realize that there are bands that can exist without their lead singer, but Nirvana sure ain’t one. Don’t get me wrong, it was really cool to see all those guys playing together again. It was especially nice seeing bassist Krist Novoselic on stage again, as he’s mostly dropped out of the music world, opting to direct films and study law.
Had the song sucked we could have blamed McCartney for being too old and for mucking about where he didn’t belong. Thankfully the song is good enough, and their performance was energetic. I was reluctant to write anything about this because I’m starting to feel weird writing so much about all these old dinosaurs of rock. I was looking over my Top 10 Albums of 2012 and I feel kinda strange about having so many classic rock artists on it. Rock has always been about the here and now AND young people. I’m not saying that old people can’t contribute to rock music or that rock artists should shut up (or be killed LOGANS RUN-style when they get to old) but the previous generation’s shadow is stifling this generations artists.
As if to drive this fact home, I got an email from Live Nation that really turned my stomach. Take a glance at the upcoming concerts in my area:
Memories of Elvis? An Allman Brothers Tribute?Dark Star Orchestra (which is a Grateful Dead tribute)? Not only are these older acts not going away, when they do (usually only when death intercedes) we are then given tribute bands to fill their places. Why in the hell aren’t we just going to see new bands? I’m just as guilty as anyone. In fact, the next concert I’m attending is a Pink Floyd tribute. Just like the film industry won’t let old franchies go, the music industry won’t let old brands die. And make no mistake, The Grateful Dead or Pink Floyd are nothing but brands at this point. Three tribute bands/acts in a long list of upcoming concerts isn’t so bad, I guess. And this is a Live Nation email, which is designed to goad aging hipsters into hiring a babysitter and having a night out. I get that. I also get that every night in this city there are awesome, young bands playing their hearts out. I just wish the Nirvanas and the McCartney’s of the world would bow out gracefully and let them into the limelight.
Ah, don’t listen to me…I’m just an aging rock fan.
Shortly after I read this, I received a Live Nation email notice about the upcoming Fleetwood Mac concert … offering an AARP discount. Point taken.
Then again, what are these aging musicians expected to do? It’s like any profession: you don’t necessarily want to retire when you get to a certain age due to pride, joy or habit. And those of us in the audience don’t necessarily want to say good-bye to the songs that made such an impact on our young lives, either. Plus, there’s a strong possibility that we stick to the old folks who still play the type of music we love because there aren’t that many “young” rock acts to pick up that torch: Black Keys is the only one that comes immediately to mind, and they aren’t in their 20s anymore.
Ha, that’s pretty funny. I don’t think aging musicians should stop doing what they do, I think the problem lies with the “music industry.” The industry has never moved past 1995. The Internet came and changed the world, and they’re still unable to harness it to make money. So instead of moving forward they’ve devolved back. Luckily for them, many older “classic” artists are still alive and kicking…so they use them (and their older fanbase) to struggle onward.
If the Industry didn’t have Rolling Stone concerts and repackaged compilations to fall back on, they’d be forced to develop NEW talent.
As for the Black Keys, I’m puzzled by them. Whenever I hear an older person talking about a new(ish) band they like, it always invariably turns out to be The Black Keys. I only have one of their albums (2004’s RUBBER FACTORY) I guess I need to get on the ball and give them a proper listen.
The Beatles and Nirvana do have something in common (sadly) in that they are both now drum n bass duos…
Sadly, too true.
Ageism in rock is unfortunate – no one moans that BB King hasn’t retired. The answer is to seek out smaller venues. Easier if you live in London. Less easy if you are out in the sticks….
It is ageist and I guess I don’t mean it. I think there are some older artists who still have integrity and something new to say. Neil Young is the perfect example from this year. I think the real problem is with the Industry (as I said above to Lpon45).
You’re correct about smaller venues, that’s where the real action is. It’s probably always been that way. I just find it really strange that in 2012 we’re (you, me, everyone) are still writing about The Beatles and Nirvana. I love both of those bands and was raised on “classic rock” but I wish the bands of my generation were getting their proper due.
In the end, the world has changed. With so much media available, the audience is divided. There will never be “another” Rolling Stones or Beatles, not because the bands of today aren’t as good…but because the listening audience is so fragmented now it’s impossible for the bands of today to achieve their level of success.
On the other side of the coin, thanks to the Internet anyone can distribute their music.
But doncha think that the reason why they don’t go away is that … people want them around? Lord knows there’s nothing that’s come along to replace them. People acting on casting shows is not quite what we want, IMHO. ‘Cut Me Some Slack’ was, as I believe young people say, ‘well wicked’.
Got to go now, there’s another casting show just started up on the telly, and then it’s dwarves wrestling…
I don’t think it’s their “fault.” I think that the industry sees older artists as an easier sell than new, untested, undeveloped artists.
I don’t think there is a draught of talent, I think there are just as many talented bands/musicians as there’s always been, I just think we don’t get to see them because of the “biz.”