Living The Dream
By Nathan Benavidez
I don’t visit a lot of websites in my free time. For a kid that’s got plenty of free time I don’t just stay at home and search the internet. However, that’s not to say that I don’t have websites that get checked quite frequently, and as with my last writing, my thoughts today come from an interview I read on ultimate-guitar.com. In this article star comedian and musician Jack Black gives his thoughts on the current music scene. He says “When you think about rock at its origin, and you think of The Beatles and millions of kids screaming as loud as they can and running as fast as they can towards The Beatles, there’s no one who is that kind of lightning rod, who commands that kind of power and has that kind of creative magma," he said. "I contend that the last band to really have that kind of power, I’m gonna say, was Nirvana. Who since Nirvana has been as big as Nirvana, in that way?”
That’s quite the powerful statement from a not so powerful musician. If you have ever listened to an album by Jack Black’s band, Tenacious D, you would know that they are not a band you can take very seriously, in fact, you can’t take them serious at all. Sure they’re fun tunes to listen to, but they’re not very popular or insightful songs. However these are Jack’s thoughts, and who are we to tell Jack that his thoughts are wrong? We can however debate them, and point out where we disagree, and while it seems that this rambling is headed in that direction, it’s actually not. I have to one hundred percent agree with Mr. Black.
What you have to understand about his statement is that he is not saying that there aren’t great good rock bands out there, because there are. There are tons of good radio friendly rock bands that are sweeping the nation. Bands like Shinedown, whose single “Second Chance” made it to the Billboard Top 100 two years ago. Bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who have been so enormously popular since the late 1990’s. And bands like The Foo Fighters, who have dominated the Post Grunge Era Rock Scene since their debut album. The statement isn’t denying those bands’ talent or sturdy position in modern day rock music. His words are talking about the impact that bands like The Beatles and Nirvana have had.
In the 1960’s The Beatles crossed the pond and came to America where Beatlemania ran wild all over the world. They were mobbed, they sold out arenas every night, and they were musical God’s. As much as I can’t stand to listen to their music, you cannot deny that The Beatles revolutionized the way the world looked at music. Not even the King,Elvis, had as big of an impact on the musical world as the way John, Paul, George, and Ringo did. Their impact and musical style is still noted as influences today. When the world ends and our grandchildren’s grandchildren live on Planet X, The Beatles will still be known. A much debated question is this: who after The Beatles was the next rock revolutionary?
In the 1970’s a quartet of four New Yorkers who wore more make up than I have ever seen one woman wear in a lifetime. They were known as “The Hottest Band in the Land” and they are one of my personal favorites, Kiss. Musically, Kiss was nothing to stand on the rooftops and scream for. Sure their lead guitarist Ace Frehley is one of the most underrated guitarist of the past one hundred years, but musically, these guys were just banging out chords and simple riffs, while talking about having the time of their life. What they did though, was catch the imagination of the world. Gene Simmons and his demon persona gave smaller kids nightmares and made teenagers go home to fill their mouths with liquor and spew fire. Ace Frehley and his smoking guitar and his out of this world skill inspired multiple future musicians to pick up their instruments. Kiss, without a shadow of a doubt became the next Rock revolutionaries. So when Disco died, and the Jackson 5 broke up, who came next? Who would change the world of rock and roll in the 1980’s?
The answer I came to find was a band that started off on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, wearing almost as much make up us Kiss, but instead of painted faces with different characters, these guys looked like, well…hookers. Their attitude was mean and tough, and they were so full of themselves and their skills that they changed the way the 1980’s were shaped. They were the very first “Hair Band” and they were called Motley Crue. The Crue, also one of my personal favorites, ushered in the now infamous “Hair Scene” the only period of time where not only was it “cool” for a man to look like a woman, but it was almost encouraged. Their music spoke volumes all across the world and made them one of the biggest and most successful bands of the 1980’s.
What The Beatles, Kiss, Motley Crue, and Nirvana all have in common is this: their music is not complex, it is not difficult to learn or play, it’s easy to remember, and it’s easy to sing along to. They all helped shaped the music, specifically rock, industry as we know it today. So the question is: who came after Nirvana? The answer: nobody has yet, which is exactly the point Jack Black is trying to make. If you notice in my writing I never mentioned Jimi Hendrix, who was extremely relevant in the 1960’s along with The Beatles. I never talked about Led Zepplin, who was also enormously popular during the 1970’s. I also never hinted at Poison, who some would say were just as big as Motley Crue (they weren’t). These great bands aren’t mentioned because they didn’t do what the four bands that were mentioned did. They didn’t help the revolution of music. They didn’t change the entire scene of America. To this day no band has had the culture impact that Nirvana had in the early 1990’s. The artistic ability, the creative ingenuity, and the desire are all there. Bands like Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry, A Day to Remember, and Rise Against are all amazing each in their own way, and could possibly be THE next band to change the world. However, the only people that can decide that are the loyal fans.
Jack Black’s comment’s started quite the discussion on ultimate-guitar.com, and I hope that my comments also provide you with some water cooler conversation. Whether you agree or disagree, if I got you talking, then sharing my thoughts on this subject were worth it, because it’s conversations that bring us all closer together. I also hope that I have given you a reason to find new musical outlets. When I lived in San Antonio, TX one of my favorite things to do was head down to St. Mary’s Street and go to The White Rabbit, a local club, just to listen to the local bands to find new music. Summer tours like Warped Tour, Mayhem Festival, and Lollapalooza are great ways to find new musical outlets and I would encourage all of you to find sometime this summer to check out these tours.
I believe dearly in three things: the power of faith, the power of music, and the power of conversation. I hope all of you will join Jack Black and me in living for the dream through your music and conversations.