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Hail Hail Rock'n'Roll

2004-07-06 - 2:26 p.m.

First of all, I need to talk about some people who rock.

Narami, as usual, rocks my casbah. Check her out at Also, if you're heading over here on her recommendation, it's my last entry that she was referring to, so you can skip to the bottom or you can do the right thing and read TWO entries, and be excessively cool.

Also, huge shout outs to Allie and Alexis G. for heading over to the HRC, putting their names down, and then telling me about it. I also thank all of you who are doing so and not telling me about it. And another shout out to Chockie! Please tell me who you are.

Quick shout out to the IRS for giving me money! Money!!!

Finally, a shout out to the radio that's playing in the office, because they provide me with a nice little segue to talk about what I was planning on talking about until I had that conversation last night, which is this whole "50th Anniversary of Rock" hoopla.

For those of you who don't know, a bunch of people are arguing that July 5th was the 50th anniversary of the birth of rock. The event they use is the first recording of an Elvis song.

How fucking racist is that?

Seriously, this really pissed me off. I kinda liked it. In some ways it was oddly refreshing to be pissed off about racism when I'm so often pissed off about homophobia and violence. It was like coming home to an old friend, except the friend was a really old enemy. Sometimes you really love to hate those old enemies.

What really gets to me is how the promoters of this event are so shameless about their own racism. They acknowledge that Elvis was not the first artist of rock, or even the first great artist, but simply the first person to make it palatable to a white audience.

That's like saying that the birth of hip-hop should be marked by the release of Licensed to Ill. Or worse, The Slim Shady LP.

Don't get me wrong, I love Elvis as much as the next guy. I do Elvis impressions. I love "Devil in Disguise" and "I Can't Help falling in Love with You" and "Jailhouse Rock" and just about anything you can throw at me. Someone even once told me I looked like Elvis, and I took it as a compliment until I started wondering whether they were talking about young, hot Elvis or old, fat, sad Elvis. I really hope they meant the hot Elvis.

None of this changes the fact that rock'n'roll predated Elvis, and that it was a black art form long before it was a white one. I think Elvis himself would have pointed it out, had he been alive. I think that July 5th should be celebrated among Elvis fans, and as a point where rock was brought out to a larger audience, but to call it the birth is to make a case that it was ultimately a white man who gave birth to rock'n'roll, when he was just the one who showed it to the world.

Funnily enough, today is the anniversary of another rock milestone: the first meeting of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The radio, however, was good enough to argue only that the day should be observed by Beatlemaniacs. They didn't say that this should be considered the birth of rock, even though The Beatles did more to make rock into the creature we know today than even Elvis did.

I have a sudden craving for Abbey Road. I may need to get on that.

I had been thinking about ending this with a list of my favorite rock bands, but I hate it when Rolling Stone or Spin or any of those other music magazines make a list of Greatest Bands or Essential Albums, because the lists are influence by fashion and peer pressure and are often sexist, and they invariably piss me off. I was thinking about writing on The 10 Bands That Changed My Life, which I posted on my Friendster page after I got messages about it from friends, but that list was more about, "I was listening to this song and took it as a sign" rather than "These are the bands that form the soundtrack of my life," because the odds of my narrowing it down to ten is pretty slim.

So I'll just say this: celebrate rock'n'roll every chance you get by going out and seeing a local band. If you're in New York or Philadelphia, I can recommend Cheese on Bread (and solo work by member Dan Fishback) and Gina Young. If you're in Austin, I recommend Ginger Leigh, Hedda Layne, Ruthie Foster, Patrice Pike, Grupo Fantasma, and The Sexy Finger Champs. I will also recommend that you check out The Handsome Charlies, because even though I haven't heard them yet I trust Ladeeleroy's judgment.

So raise your goblet of rock, and get up and shake your ass.

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The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30

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