Rock n Roll

at the last minute, our friend mariella f. scored us some v.i.p. passes to the coldplay show last night (she’s tight with actress gwyneth paltrow whose b/f is chris martin, the band’s singer/songwriter) and so off we went. despite the fact that it was just the kind of scene that i am, by nature and inclination, predisposed to hate, to wit: a big stadium filled with horribly dressed pop-music fans, the show was surprisingly excellent. while i’ve always been fond of the group’s cd’s, they are way better live, which is, let’s face it, an increasingly rare phenomenon in these dark and dismal days. whatever the band may lack in stage presence, they more than make up for musically. martin’s voice is even more hauntingly beautiful and versatile live than on their recordings and, if at the end of the night, he was a bit hoarse and his trademark falsetto broke from time-to-time, it was a refreshingly honest expression of the emotional energy he’d expended. big kudos.

i don’t know (and i doubt i could know) how many concerts i’ve attended in my long life, but it certainly has to be in the many thousands. i can be sure that when i edited damage, i went to more than 1000 shows over four years, sometimes averaging six to ten per week. i was all of 13 or 14 when i went to my first big-name rock show and fell instantly in love with the ambience, the energy, the music, the people, the scene. i can truly say i never looked back.

in a strange way, i have become a kind of living testament to many, if not most, of the major trends in pop music, from early british invasion to psychedelic, from punk to goth, from hardest-core industrial to emo on the edge. i really can’t even imagine how to describe this voyage (because that’s exactly how it feels, sea-sickness included) other than to say that it has inexorably altered the way in which i feel, think and exist in the world. i’m not talking here about just about the music, as in the art form, but rather about the experience of a culture or, better yet, mileu that derives its symbolism and its style from the music (and, of course, visa-versa). there’s a temptation, especially amongst those who’ve associated themselves with one particular scene (say, punk or goth) to assume that it’s that specific modality from which the meaning emanates rather than from an experience that is common to all the various scenes. based on long experience, i’m the first to admit that a truly underground scene has a different ambience, tone and feeling from one that has become diluted by popularity and the demands of the market place, but all of them have common elements, not the least of which is an anthemic quality, meaning they speak to something common in us, whether that’s anger or yearning or hope or deep abiding despair.

that rock’n’roll — a term that doesn’t really have much meaning anymore — is the running soundtrack for all of our lives is altogether too obvious, that it still has meaning and potential and can still touch something real in all of us may be a less clear.

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