Reax to Sir Rocknuts: History or Honesty?



We at Rocknuts are excited to welcome Liz Fox to our writing team. Liz kicks things off here with her reaction to Sir Rocknuts’ personal top 100 list.

High FidelityIn the 2000 film High Fidelity, heartbroken record store owner Rob Gordon is asked by his colleague Barry to list his top five first tracks. He dishes out some obvious picks unashamed, only to finish by including the opener from Massive Attack’s Mad Professor collaboration. His friend responds with an accusatory remark similar to those fired in true-to-life music debates: “A sly declaration of new classic status slipped into a bunch of safe ones – very pussy!” Though my intense brashness has waned in recent memory, this is the stance I normally adopt when reading or discussing top lists related to music. I find myself getting frustrated with the fact that I seldom learn anything from them and, with respect to Sir Rocknuts, his selection falls in line with that sort of disappointment.

The term “rock” has become just as aimless as “alternative” or what “indie” came to mean in the early 2000s. Even the context of classics in FM radio as changed dramatically, jumping from oldies to arena rock to hair metal in less than two decades. That said, how lenient can you be in compiling a Top 100 rockers list before it becomes too general? Is it fair to include shapeshifters like The Clash and Neil Young while ignoring equally experimental examples like krautrock and later post-punk? The superficial glimpse of these musicians brings out the roster’s most obvious flaw: it does not offer much insight, as most of the credibility showcased in the list has been long established or, in the case of the Dave Clark Five, remains entirely fictional.

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This does not mean The Move or a bunch of Flying Nun bands should’ve been planted alongside Deep Purple, or that Sir Rocknuts’ picks should have remained exclusively on the obscure side of things; however, there is an obvious classic rock-oriented bias that makes for some missteps. He declares these selections to be born of personal preference, yet the list emphasizes cultural impact above all other factors. Most fans have, at one time or another, felt forced into enjoying artists or albums because Western culture has deemed them essential or somehow vital in their own contexts. But the degree of influence does not always speak for timeless talent or taste, and while I acknowledge that Steely Dan contributed highly to jazz fusion and that Don Henley is an alright songwriter, I’m still vocal about my hatred for the Eagles and can only take so much of Pretzel Logic. There’s a feeling that some selections were included not out of personal preference, but out of an obligation to paint a well-rounded portrait of the rock genre that lies in accordance with its history and development.

Chasing the rush of discovering new artifacts is 80 percent of why I continue to geek out like I do, and there is an infinite number of them waiting to be found in record stacks, music blogs, and the like. But despite the inclusion of a few random artists (Ryan Adams, Spoon, Golden Earring), the Top 100 felt similar to the rock history survey course I took in college and less of a collection of purely personal picks. It totally eliminates any sort of education or resonance on my end but, perhaps when I’m truly honest with myself, I’m just a stubborn elitist that’s hard to please.

Photo: Screenshot from High Fidelity, via apartmentsaavy.com

4 comments to “Reax to Sir Rocknuts: History or Honesty?”
  1. Love that quote from High Fidelity! I need to watch that again.. Good point, too, that lists are personal. If I made an entirely “personal” list, it’d probably be pretty embarrassing…

  2. Assessing the cultural impact of an artist is also a highly subjective exercise. You or anyone else are free to argue that the Beatles or Steely Dan or Kraftwerk really weren’t that important. But maybe it is through conversations like these that the term “rock” becomes a little less aimless. That’s why this site looks so interesting.

    • It’s totally true. My argument is all semantics and the boundaries between taste and obligation are pretty rough, but I definitely like to encourage conversation.

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