16 December 2011

The Friday Top Five: The Top Five Greatest Tunes About Rock n' Roll

The Friday Top Five: The Top Five Greatest Tunes About Rock n' Roll

As someone who actually teaches a course titled "The History of Rock and Roll," I feel a unique sense of entitlement with all things rock& roll. In fact, I have self-appointed myself the absolute authority on all things rock and roll. I mean, after all, Michael Jackson dubbed himself "The King of Pop," and Howard Stern declared he was "The King of All Media," why should I not be Dr. Rock and Roll? I mean let's face it, I even have the official name plate on my door.

I know I will receive some comments and other suggestions for this list... I'm looking at you Jeff and Rock Star.

Picking the five best songs ever written about rock and roll is a lot like picking my favorite dish containing lobster. I mean, does it matter? I heard a comedian once talk about how lobsters completely got the short end of the stick. He went on to say, "...when God was creating all the animals, he said, "Okay, lobster. I'm going to make you red, and give you these little claw things on the front. Yeah, that's it. (muffled voice) Oh, yeah, and the most intelligent creatures on the planet are going to find you absolutely delicious."

I decided to base my list on songs that really celebrate rock and roll for what it is; a subversive, ass-kicking, stick-it-to-the-man, in-your-face, "My amplifier goes to eleven," form of musical expression.
I had to eliminate tunes with "Rock and Roll" in the title that were played by fringe rock and roll bands at best, like The Velvet Underground. I love the Velvet Underground, but they are about as rock & roll to me as say, The Cure, or Elvis Costello.

So, I had to rule out tunes like "I'm Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band" by the Moody Blues, and "So You Want to Be A Rock and Roll Star" by Tom Petty. While peripherally tunes about rock and roll, they do not speak to the true nature of what it means to bang your head and feel the power of guitar distortion. 

5) For Those About to Rock, AC/DC: How cool is it that those of us who have never served in the armed forces can still be saluted? This tune from the 1981 album of the same name features starts with lead singer, Brian Johnson, engaged with a little antiphonal (call and response) between himself and the band. The music is raw, heavy, heavily influenced by R& B guitar licks that are predictable, but tasty.

4) I Love Rock and Roll, Joan Jett: This tune feels nostalgic because her lyrics "I love rock and roll, so put another dime in the jukebox baby. I love rock n' roll, so come an' and take your time an' and dance with me" harkens back to a time when you could actually pay for tunes on the jukebox without having to take out your ATM card and take money out.

3) Rock and Roll MusicChuck Berry, Look, Chuck Berry is unequivocally the architect of rock and roll. There would be no rock guitar if it were not for Chuck Berry. Who would the Beatles cover, and Brian Wilson—of the Beach Boys—rip off if were not for Chuck Berry? He explains in the song how rock&roll has a backbeat, and if you want to dance with him, it has to be rock& roll music that you're listening to.

2) Long Live Rock, The Who: A tribute to rock and roll artists dead or alive, this tune mixes some honkey tonk, with good ole' fashion ass-kickin' rock and roll to reaffirm that rock and roll is here to stay.

1) Rock and Roll, Led Zepplin: Proof that when you spend enough time away from rock n' roll, you really need it. I feel this way every morning when I need my jazz fix. I have to sit down at the piano in the a.m. and unleash some demons. I spend and hour and a half playing tunes, improvising, and getting my daily therapy before I go out there and face the ever-increasing sarcasm of la vie quotidienne.


Hey, guess what? My ass is IN gear and I am training hard again. This year, it does not appear that I will be facing some of the same kinds of stresses as previous seasons. Let me recap the last two seasons for you:

2009: My father passes away a day before his 81'st birthday. It came unexpectedly. This put a bit of a damper in my training. I ran the Musselman HIM less than two weeks later.

2010: Left a steady academic position I was in for ten years after completing my doctorate to take a one year position and pray that it would turn into something more permanent. It did. The stress of applying for gigs, and reapplying for my position left me spent and struggling to find time last season. Had an injury that kept me from running for about eight weeks. Oh, I decided to coach my son's baseball team last summer. What the hell was I thinking?

2011: Have some major writing to do this year. I have a couple of huge commissions on the burner that I have to get done. Unfortunately, I prefer writing and training in the morning. Finding balance is going to be difficult.

Coach Kelly has me hitting it pretty hard already. I like that. There is something to be said for ramping up slowly, but I really dislike waiting until, say, April to start having any significant long runs.

I did a 2800 yard swim yesterday, followed by an hour of interval work on the bike. I have also been doing some weight training this pre-season. I use to be a strength athlete and I trained pretty hard. I miss pumping iron, but it has been a really long time since I've bench pressed, or did dumbbell flys and my chest is absolutely killing me.

I think I am going to run a 5K this weekend. It will be fun to go out there and really test myself early. I have not run a 5K in years. Isn't that crazy? I have been more interested in running 10K's. Something about going out there and running fast enough to elicit vomiting really scares the hell out of me. A little vomiting never hurt anyone.

I was pretty excited about my recent heart rate test. After warming up for 15 minutes and doing 3 short 30-second intervals, I ran hard for twenty minutes. I remember reading something years ago that someone wrote about how to run faster. This coach once said, "in order to run faster, you need to run faster," and that is exactly what I did.

I have to admit, I don't envy all of you who live in warm-weathered locales who have to deal with heat and humidity all year round, but I am not excited about having to sit my ass on a trainer in my basement during the winter. Ugh!

More soon. Train Smart!

Training is going swimmingly. Pun intended.


Chloe said...

I'll try my best to send some heat and humidity your way!

TriMOEngr said...

Interesting take on rock and roll. The Joan Jett one is my favorite. Makes me want to put on leather pants (and that would not be a pretty sight). Sounds like you've had a wild couple of years. I resemble those remarks (Dec 2009, stepmom died; June 2010, dad died; Oct 2010 lost job, started own business; April 2011 started training for first tri; July 2011, did first 2 tris; Nov 2011, grandpa died; 2012 - planning epic year of diving head first into a sport I'm just getting to know). Have a great holiday!

RockStarTri said...

Somehow I missed this in my reader.
Can't complain about Joan or AC/DC.

My brain is misfiring on this though. Songs that immediately come to mind are Loggins and Messina's "Ya Momma don't dance" forgetting what Daddy doesn't do isn't in the title and Neil Young's "My,My,Hey,Hey" which also misses the title with where rock and roll will stay. Neither though is raw enough.

Of course the Stone's with "It's Only Rock and Roll" might get mention. The feeling of "Louie, Louie" or "Twist and Shout" have been diluted over time but the originals, ah, the originals make me a little weepy eyed.

Nice 5.

PS: You cannot include Billy Joel's "It is Still Rock and Roll to Me" though.

PPS: Even though I really don't play much any more I still need to sit down at the piano and get jazzified from time to time.

Caratunk Girl said...

Random, totally uninteresting fact. When I was in high school people told me I looked like Joan Jett. I did not agree at all, but I liked that they thought I was tough like her. haha

No. I did not wear leather suits in high school! haha

Happy Holidays!!

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Sorry, little late to the party!

Anyway, awesome list.

Can't believe you left off Gary Glitter! (hahahahaha)

I might add KISS, Rock and Roll All Night - they rocked it and just represent every sterotype about Rock!

Glad to see AC/DC on the list. You could make an argument their entire collection celebrated Rock N' Roll! Heck, IMO, Shook Me All Night Long saved rock n' roll from the forgettable era known as Disco.

Nirvana did the same thing when it came out with Smells Like Teen Spirit! We were stuck with Boy Bands and Hair Bands and Nirvana bitch slapped them thus bring the death to crappy ballads and power cords!

But even thought this song isn't directly about RnR is sure as hell represents all that is pure - "Play me some Freebird!"

BTW - still smiling about the Gary Glitter crack!