Friday, August 24, 2007

Horton hears The Who.

So last night the PP and I decided to play cards, and whenever we play cards, we also play music, and so I asked him, "What would you like to hear?" And he said, "Bachman Turner Overdrive," and I said, "Hmmm, I am not sure that we have any Bachman Turner Overdrive," so he said, "Oh," so I said, "Does this mean you want Rock?" And he said, "Yes!"

I hustled to the computer and threw together what I thought might be a good Rock playlist and we started playing.

It was not too long, though, before we hit a song where PP said, "You know, this is not really rock. America is not rock." So I made a note about that and we played some more and then we hit some quiet Dire Straits and decided that was not really rock either. And then there was a Santana song that started out really quietly, and although it was getting ready to rock, it was not really rock. Neither was some of the Springsteen stuff from Nebraska (despite the fact that Bruce may be one of the PP's absolute favs.)

We started to think that rock--or at least the rock we wanted last night--was harder to define than we initially thought.

Here are our priliminary observations:

1. We could begin to define rock by using its touchstones: "Sharp Dressed Man," "Barracuda," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," "Aqualung," "Heartbreaker," "Helter Skelter," "Dancing Days," "Won't Get Fooled Again."

2. Rock does tend to have strong guitars, it is true, but the PP insists that the beat is just as important.

3. A rock song frequently includes some kind of non-verbal or loosely verbal scream in it. (Example: the "YAH!" early in "Hungry Heart")

4. The title of the song might include the word "rock," as in "Rock and Roll All Night" or "We Will Rock You" but this does not include "Rock Around the Clock" as that is apparently a different kind of rock. The jury is still out on "Rock Lobster." Furthermore, although Falco claims that he would like for Amadeus to rock him, he does not really do so in a rock way. Ditto Michael Jackson's claims about rocking, with or without you. Simon and Garfunkel may be a rock, but they do not rock. Rocking the casbah does not equal rocking the boat. Conversely, Joe Walsh may be claiming to make Funk #49, but that is rock, my friends.

5. Mick makes rock. Not all rock must have rock, but you cannot have Mick without rock. Same thing with Link Wray (and his Raymen).

6. Rock does not usually have a heavily produced sound.

7. The PP's definition of Rock may be broader than mine. He puts the B-52's in there, and I think he wants Devo too, though I tend to think they are not rock.

What do you think? And how long can a band take to get ready to rock? (Think here about the beginning of "Detroit Rock City," because it takes about one minute and thirty seconds before the rocking starts, but then it really does rock.)


Magpie said...

You guys are funny. Do you know about Pandora - the web radio station that guesses what you'll like?

What card game were you playing?

Timothy said...

Do the White Stripes rock?

"Rock the Casbah" may not, but what about "London Calling"?

Is a definition of "rock" that sticks us with bands like Bad Company as the exemplars of the form worth having?

Isis said...


Oops, I may not have been clear: Rock the Casbah most definitely IS rock. "Rock the Boat," or at least the version I have by the Hues Corporation is NOT rock.

I need to hear the White Stripes. If you sense that they rock, they probably do.

And no: rock, by definition, must evolve beyond Bad Company.

Isis said...


Yes, we LOVE Pandora, although I realize now that we have never tried it for ROCK. (Mostly jazz, or electronica or other random categories defined by the various bands I've thrown into the mix.)

We were playing Spite & Malice. Do you know it?

Tony said...

A few of your songs on the list are some of my faves. A little Zep is always good for the soul! And remember it's all about adreneline and testosterone.

Here are few worth thinking about.
Karn Evil 9-2nd Impression, Emerson Lake and Palmer.
White Room by Cream.
Ramblin Man, Allman Brothers.
I know I'm Losing You, Rod Stewart.
Let Me Stand next to your Fire, Jimi Hendrix.
Bullet the Blue Sky, U2.
Revolution 1, the Beatles.
American Idiot, Green Day.
Synchronicity I, the Police.
25 or 6 to 4, Chicago.
Pressure, Billy Joel.
Iron Man, Black Sabbath.
Bad Love, Eric Clapton.
Mama, Genesis.

Magpie said...

I heard of Spite and Malice, but not played it. We're all about Gin Rummy - though husband won't play with me any more because I win more than he does.

Joe said...

Taking care of business! (Every day!)

Gah, I still get nightmares from those scary monkeys in "Horton Hears a Who".