Rock and Roll is and or was a young man’s medium. What does that mean? I’ll get to that, but first let me review the origin a little.
So, rock and roll is a very old term, which perhaps has origins that are earlier than one might imagine – but in any case, it was first noted as slang for sex, or the act of having sex. The slang for sex was apparently prevalent in the music scene in the areas of blues, rhythm and blues, boogie woogie, and certain jazz circles. In the 1950s, the mainstream popular musical sounds and forms in America found an alternative that teens and youths in general started to take note of. This alternative, though hard to pin point a specific style or approach, seemed to come from different styles of music, but a common thread appears to have been loud volume, raucousness, a danceable beat, and a practically home-made and organic approach in origin by small bands such as trios, quartets, and other relatively small combinations. Exactly why Allen Freed decided to coin the term Rock and Roll as the title of a new genera isn’t truly clear, but it stuck, and Rock and Roll dominated the musical tastes very broadly in the United States and throughout the world for decades.
Why a young man’s medium? Well, there are types of music in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that aren’t necessarily thought of as Rock or rocking (a fair amount of ballads and disco in there, actually). But in the vast general sense, Rock and Roll began as, and is about youthful exuberance, about a rebel attitude, angst filled, anguished and joyful in turns, agitated, sexual, sensual, and explosive. If you were ever picked on by bullies in the godawful years between ages 13 and 15, then this music will clearly resonate with you as a response to everything that ailed you and alienated you, including authority. In the case of sex, it is difficult to compare the amount of desire versus the lack of understanding about girls that boys experience in those formative years. So, yeah, this is a generalization, but for these specific reasons, it is likely that many girls (women) will never make that connection with rock and roll.
Performance-wise, the amount of women that can rock in the same way that the boys have been able to throughout the history of rock is anemically a small number. Joan Jett would be a good example of an awesome hard rocking woman. Perhaps Courtney Love could be counted in that number as well, but as a point of personal preference, one might number Courtney’s truly classic gem recordings with only one hand. Singer performers like Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell, to name two, are amazing and obviously talented, but their personal style and preference was never what you might call “hard rocking.”
There are always exceptions, but in general, the power, popularity of rock is greatly diminished in the modern era. The preferred sounds are glamorous glitzy mish-mash of infinite influences, sometimes barely disguised repackaging of familiar tunes and presented as new. The emperor’s new clothes are, um, gooey, auto-tuned, over-produced, ga-gawdawful, clichéd, predictable…er, with some bright spots, but mostly lame.
Rock on peoples