I Know It’s Only Rock N Roll


Someone came into the office where I work about a week ago and made statements which reminded me of something that happened a couple weeks prior. My mind went back to that Saturday evening; live hard pulsing punk rock was being slashed out by a group of local musicians while my friend Jax writhed her dancing pelvis against the birthday girl. Hard fucking music blasting in our ears while the attendees swilled down beer and bourbon and smoked blunts. Everyone stomped their feet and bobbed their heads as if we were transfixed by some unseen magic-and we were transfixed from the power of true rock n roll.
What made me think of that evening was this guy coming into the office to visit a fellow employee. We keep a radio on to deaden the sound of silence and machinery where I work but I don’t really pay too much attention to it. I pay little attention to whats playing because its always on some local station and this is, after all, work. This is not the place to funk out. The guy who came in made mention of how the local station was playing the censored version of Dire Straits song Money For Nothing. The part where the lyrics say the little faggot with the earring and the makeup, yeah buddy, that’s his own hair is completely void of vocals at that point, then streams back into the song with no apologies. This really grinded at the guy who started going off on the radio station for cutting out the word faggot-which I could understand his frustration, but he had to remember; this is radio.
Radio stations covertly pull songs aside and dub out what they deem unfit for human consumption.. Steve Miller, John Mellencamp, lots of rock songs have been altered all in the pursuit of clean airwaves and its been going on for some time now. The decency in broadcasting police came out and started branding rock songs that contained subversive lyrics with stickers to warn parents; something which smelled to me very much like the Jewish star stitched on clothes back during the Hitler years. Sponsors threatened to pull advertising dollars if stations didn’t clean up their act and radio execs thought they could dupe the public into believing they were still top notch rock stations by merely censoring the song and putting it back on air. This was like watching The G rated version of The Godfather, with all the violence and language cleaned out.
Jax’s place was the perfect spot for a party. Her house has no direct road that leads to it-you have to know which alley to drive down and park at to find her place. Once I got there the bands were beginning to show up-four bands in all. One of them actually drove down to Indy from Chicago just to play at her party and we were all thankful and admired their commitment to the rock scene of the evening. We passed the plate to get them gas money back. Everyone pitched in with monetary compensation for the band, extra arms to carry in the heavy equipment (old school tube amps, the hefty ones) and refreshments to distort our minds, we were all ready to celebrate the night away. The honored guest of the evening was a friend of Jax whose birthday it was. As the night progressed I wondered how long the birthday girl would keep on her feet. She was hitting the bourbon really fast and heavy but as soon as the first band began to play, energy engulfed all of us and the party began.
Rock isn’t going to be found on your local FM station. You’ll hear rock music, but its not rock n roll you’re experiencing. The true groove can only be appreciated and experienced in a live situation where the band is performing and blasphemy against the establishment-the Man-is pounding out of you like a jackhammer. Rock was born out of a poetic air of grievance that resulted from too many restrictions, too many bad things holding one down. It is an unspoken feeling that melts your frustrations and has you coiled up in a mindspring of delirious euphoria. When the Who took stage and Pete Townshend smashed his guitar, that was rock n roll. When Elvis shook his hips and caused television stations all over to aim their cameras above his waist, Elvis was making rock n roll. When I was a teenager and the band King Crimson came to play, the staff at the coliseum shut down their amps and turned on the lights to make the band stop. The crowd responded with shouts and threats and it got so scary for these workers that they turned the power back on so the band could finish….that was rock n roll.


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