Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beth’s Music Moment: Rolling Stone Archives

Beth's music moment5Boy, I’m sure doing a lot of Music Moments lately! That’s because I’m having a lot of really good music moments these days!

Today’s came when I was sitting out on the deck catching some rays and catching up on some back issues of Rolling Stone that I hadn’t gotten to yet. Lots of good stuff. One of my favorite features is the back page, where they list the top 40 albums and a few other charts. The part I love the best on that page is the “From the Vault” box, where they show a past cover, a brief quote from whoever was on it, and the top ten singles at the time. Today’s just slayed me. Since I’m a subscriber, I get full access to their online archives, and I spent a brief time there today. I have to be careful there because I could easily get lost in reading old articles!

The issue in “From the Vault” was RS 250, from October 20th, 1977, and it was Johnny Rotten on the cover, with the headline “Rock is Sick.” But what really made me grin was seeing the top ten singles from that week:
  1. Debby Boone “You Light Up My Life”
  2. Carly Simon “Nobody Does It Better”
  3. Shaun Cassidy “That’s Rock ‘N Roll”
  4. KC & the Sunshine Band “Keep It Comin’ Love”
  5. Heatwave “Boogie Nights”
  6. Foreigner “Cold As Ice”
  7. Commodores “Brick House”
  8. Donna Summer “I Feel Love”
  9. Meco “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band”
  10. Johnny Rivers “Swayin’ to the Music (Slow Dancin’)”
Sex Pistols Rolling Stone coverNow, I don’t hate all of the songs on that list. I think I even had a couple of the records (and “Brick House” is still a blast!). But all in all, it’s a pretty anemic list, and it brought back memories of how boring much of the radio was at that time, and how excited Shane and I were by punk rock and New Wave. We felt like, “YES, this is IT!” Punk was and is always my first love in music, and part of it is because of how exciting it felt to be caught up in it. That is the music of my young adulthood and college years, and they say that’s always what you love the best. That makes sense, because it sort of helps form who you are. Man, I remember that freakin’ Debby Boone song being at the top of the charts for weeks, and it was just so sappy and gagworthy. Shane and I were like, “Screw it, play the Clash and blow the pictures off the walls!” (We really did that once...”Death Or Glory” was the song, and we still laugh about it.)

I won’t argue that it was the most revolutionary change in music ever, because I’m sure people have said that about rap, hip hop, many other genres, and probably even Mozart, for that matter. But it was certainly revolutionary for me, and opened my eyes to a whole different world, one far beyond my small town. I think it’s fair to say that it changed my life. The juxtaposition of that cover and the top ten list brought all that back to me in a flash. Shane and I and our friend Steve were very much in the “Disco sucks!” crowd, although there weren’t too many of us at our school. In fact, I think we might have been it!

Also interesting and pertinent was this quote from Sid Vicious:
“The Stones should have quit in 1965. You never see [them] walkin’ down the street. If it gets so you can’t see us that way, then I don’t want it. But the entire American music industry is poised to turn you into the next big thing. They’ll suck out any integrity the band has.”
The Pistols were essentially a band manufactured by Malcolm McLaren, sort of the Monkees of the punk era. Sid couldn’t play for shit, although Steve Jones, the guitarist, could. The band flamed out in almost record time. But the music still stands up and it still rocks. Of course, Sid is long gone, and Mick and Keith and the guys are still out there making music. There might be a lesson there, but I’m not sure what it is. It’s more than a little ironic, though. Don’tcha think?

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