Let’s Talk Rock!

sir-rocknuts-500The mission of creating a rock music site was just too important to leave to the professionals – so it was something I realized I had to do myself!

I once subscribed to a potpourri of the “professional” journalism efforts like Rolling Stone and Spin but they weighed me down with their glitzy coverage of superstar lifestyles and by featuring genres like rap and new age and world music and dub step that I don’t listen to at all. And then there was the constant graceless adolescent political crap. Please. The military industrial complex and paranoia themes that seemed so half-baked back in the sixties? Well, they are fully baked now in Rolling Stone. Let’s talk music, man!

So then I tried the hipper music mags/sites like Revolver and The Big Takeover. I got more music and less lifestyle advice but I was also getting puerile opinions on the music I listened to from … well, from whom, exactly? Some reviewers were bitter. Some were more stylized than the music they were critiquing. All of them talked at me or even down to me. Most had mastered only half the art of interesting conversation. So, let’s talk rock, eh?

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Which takes me back to that other thing. I don’t want to talk other music genres. I can appreciate country and Broadway show tunes and blue grass and opera as much as the next guy – whoever that might be. But I just don’t want to talk about it. Let’s talk rock.

And now that we are talking about it, what is this Rocknuts conceit, anyway? You ask: Who needs another views and reviews site? Well, we want to talk about rock music and we want you to be part of the conversation. There will be no subscriptions, a few unobtrusive ads, and a big back-and-forth emphasis on opinions. Yours and ours. Opinions? If you don’t have any – no worries: I’ve got a million of them. I’ve been described in cyberspace as “Frequently wrong but seldom in doubt”.

I wanted the RockNuts mantra to be: “No politics. No promotions. No shit.”.

We will probably have a moveable feast of mottos and mantras. When it comes to rock, how about “Too much is never enough”? Or “I like what I have so much, I want more”? The Replacements once said that “I hate music / it’s got too many notes.” Well, I don’t even take notes so it won’t slow down my passion here. Neither does style or punctuation or being overwhelmed by what we are trying to do with Rocknuts. I have talked about music and argued about music and listened to an awful lot of music. But – writing about it? Frank Zappa opined that “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” I think I disagree. Then again, I know very little about dancing or architecture. Or Zappa, for that matter. But I do love to name-drop (obviously). And I know what I like and I like rock music.

We want to talk about the most significant rock artists of all time. And their best songs. We want to talk about the best rock lyrics ever. And our favorite songs. I will tell you in advance that I have some pronounced emotional prejudices: I like very few female lead singers; most ballads are not rock songs; and that David Crosby sucks, no matter what band he was in. I will tell you that Procol Harum is probably the best band ever. And I will tell you why. Because opinions matter more than facts at Rocknuts.

So – let’s talk rock here.

Rock can be heavy rock and it can be mainstream rock and it can be country rock (kind of) and it can be old rock and new rock. I would say – arbitrarily – that for me, rock music started in about 1955 and it goes through approximately last Thursday. The old stuff is every bit as important as the new stuff and – more importantly – there is new stuff that is every bit as good as the old stuff.

Personally, I love sixties rock uber alles as I am a big Doors and Kinks and Stones and Beatles fan. And, of course, Procol Harum. But I love stuff from the past decade (or so) like the Meat Puppets and Wilco and Nada Surf and My Morning Jacket and The Thermals. I listen to about 20 CD’s a month (yes, CD’s brother, but that’s another column…) and my “taste” runs all over the place. I just looked up the last 20 CD’s that I bought in March:

1) Jorma Kaukonen
2) The Radiators
3) Boomtown Rats
4) Modest Mouse
5) Green Pajamas
6) Cracker
7) The Decemberists
8) Belle and Sebastian
9) Sleater-Kinney
10) Gramercy Arms
11) The War on Drugs
12) Sloan
13) Robyn Hitchcock
14) J Mascis
15) Go Betweens
16) Yo La Tengo
17) Tom Waits
18) St. Vincent
19) Swans
20) Wild Beasts

Yeah, I know. It’s a mixed bag. But that’s my personal Rorschach. I am always looking for something new but I am comfortable with listening anew to the old stuff, too. And that is why I am a rocknut.

Now, about this whole “Sir RockNuts” silliness. I guess it originally came from my mother who would describe me to her friends as “a royal pain in the ass”. I have tried to live up to that ever since. I always wanted a title like “colonel” or “viscount” or “sir”. That follows in the footsteps of one of my mentors, Homer Simpson, who said, “Just once I want someone to call me “sir” without adding “You’re making a scene”.

Just once? We are making our scene here at Rocknuts, though. We are aiming for a unique sensibility– kind of a cross between Mad Magazine and the original Rolling Stone vibe. We take music seriously; we just don’t take ourselves that seriously.

And who is this “ourselves”? You’ve got me, Sir Rocknuts, founder and chief gadfly. We have two webmasters who are both rock nuts. And we have some poorly paid yet enthusiastic and soon-to-be-iconic know-it-all contributors. We have a bunch of volunteers that write and research and just generally hang around trying to look cool. Then there is you. Yes, you can also apply to be a poorly paid contributor OR you can take the easy way out by just contributing – comments, reads and the like.

To a few of you, you might mistake this column as some sort of manifesto. If I was trying for that, it would have been written with much greater pomp and clarity and a polished Hallmark Card kind of feel. Maybe this is more a mani-fecto in which I hope to infect you with a music contagion that brings you back. Way back. That inflicts us all with yet another bad habit. “What once were vices are now habits”. Who said that, anyway?

Finally, if you are thinking that this site will build and will build with you, with intriguing content and peculiarly on-point dialogue, you are at the right place. If you are here looking at this column for something consistently worthy, don’t bother. I am neither consistent nor worthwhile. Just ask my family. My journalistic efforts remind me of the criticism of some other hack from 1700’s, about whom was said: “The writing was both good and original. Unfortunately the good parts weren’t original and the original parts weren’t good.” That’s me. For those that have followed me through cyberspace from other web-based ventures, you know how I feel about stealing from others. To steal from one source is considered plagiarism. To steal from multiple sources is considered research. Expect lots of half-ass research here.

This venture is intended to become a vast program even though we are starting with those half-vast ideas. Give it time. Give it a second look. Give Rocknuts some input and help us on our way.

As you can see from my recent music selection, there’s not much new in the music world and certainly we are not turning over “a rock” to make astonishing discoveries. That’s not our thing. My favorite poet lyricist (Keith Reid from Procol, of course…) said it best:

I sat me down to write a simple story
Which maybe in the end became a song
The words have all been read by one before me
We’re taking turns in trying to pass them on
Oh, we’re taking turns in trying to pass them on

We are gonna talk rock here at Rocknuts. And we are going to pass on opinions and news and reviews.

Others have tried something similar. Now, it’s our turn…

Next week in this space: The Top 100 rockers of all time; including, their “best” songs – plus the 200+ artists that were also considered for those honors!

3 comments to “Let’s Talk Rock!”
  1. Rolling Stone also has a long tradition of being absolutely wrong about everything. They trashed Zeppelin and they failed to appreciate Bowie until a full 20 years later.

    Not to mention the fact that Nevermind jumped up from 3.5 to 5 stars after a certain someone blew his head off. Does suicide somehow improve the quality of a finite piece of music recorded in a fixed medium?

    They are unable to disentangle objective reality from inflated myth, and their new, “regular-size” magazine is stupid.

  2. Rolling Stone is a shill for the big commercial acts. Rock fans used to read it despite the stupid politics – now it is only the stupid-politics fans that still DO read it!

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