WSJ and Music

A recent WSJ article about Tom Petty and how he is perceived relative to his rocking “peers” caused me to instantly grimace thinking about the time a couple of years ago when I saw The Strokes open for Tom Petty in Chicago at Northerly Island and The Strokes just blew Petty off the stage. We left after a couple of Petty’s songs… it was about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Well then the WSJ put together a matrix ranking Petty’s peers that made me almost throw up in my mouth a bit. Everyone on that list was ancient, and very few were even creating new music anymore (or at least music that anyone was listening to). Of the individuals on the grid I wouldn’t even cross the street to see 90% of them for free. And this is “rock”?

Note – if you want to see this grid in full scale click on the original post over at LITGM and blow it to full size.

So I decided to make my own grid of actual rock music out today, with bands that are actually touring and still putting out new music that is at least somewhat relevant. I’ve seen lots of these bands at Lollapalooza, for which I already bought my 2010 tickets. That WSJ list of “rockers” shows the worst of music – aging nostalgia shows and useless crap. But there is a lot of stuff still going on, and a few of the old war horses constantly re-invent themselves. I had to put that grid together just to get the thought of those old fogies pushing stuff into the ground out of my mind.

Cross posted at LITGM

17 thoughts on “WSJ and Music”

  1. The Muffs are making a new record. I don’t know where they are on the grid, but they are in my all time top ten — and they are the only band that still exists that is in my all-time top ten.

  2. Haven’t heard of the Muffs. I looked on wikipedia and I saw they were associated with Redd Kross. Those guys made a mash up of the white stripes album adding bass, which is funny.
    Do you like my little grid with the pasted heads? That took a while. I am not very good at arts and crafts projects anymore.

  3. Your grid is definitely much better than theirs. I would have put different bands in some cases but hey everyone’s tastes are different.

  4. If you don’t know the Muffs yet, you are in for some good stuff.

    You are a lucky guy.

    (As it happens, “Lucky Guy” is a great Muffs song.)

  5. 30-40 years ago these guys were probably the bomb. We just need to focus some on the past and some on the future. I saw the Police at Wrigley Field on their comeback tour and had a great time.

  6. From the WSJ side I think they were looking at “acts” that were still touring. From my side I also wanted acts that were still touring so Husker Du is out. The Pixies obviously tour (we saw them, was great) but didn’t put out an album, but now it looks like they are actually writing a new one for 2010 which means maybe I should have included them.

  7. “It’s only rock and roll. Disposable crap that won’t mean a thing in ten years.”

    — Tom Petty, as interviewed in Rolling Stone, Feb. 21, 1980.

  8. No Henry Rollins/Black Flag in any form anywhere either – fail. But then again, how do you put something like this together to satisfy everyone. Your matrix certainly has more impact today than the “dinosaur” matrix of the wsj. I mean Tom Waits? Bob Seger? Really?

    I am always amazed when I hear “classic rock” on the radio, that there is actually a business model for that music anymore. I just have no clue why Freebird, Old Time Rock and Roll and Brown Eyed Girl can be played over the air – and make a radio station money.

  9. I saw a 13 year old kid in an Aerosmith t-shirt last night. That kid was born in 1994. Aerosmith were on the radio when I was 14 years old working at my after school job in in 1977. There is a subculture of long-haired adolescents who have been listening to the same old crap for 35 years, with new stoner losers joining the ranks as others grow up? It is pretty weird.

    Hell, even Black Flag / Henry Rollins = 30 year old music.

    We are as far from the beginning of hardcore (1979-2009 = 30 years), as Minor Threat was from Patti Page and Bing Crosby (1949-1979 = 30 years).

    The story of American popular music is one of a youth and creativity explosion that started in the mid-50s, was stopped by the music business circa 1959-1963, that exploded again in bottom-up fashion 1964-1968 or so, with two secondary explosions circa 1975-79 (punk and disco) and finally the small scale rattling of hardcore which never touched the big time in terms of sales or influence. The bad guys won and music has been increasingly programmed and commoditized since circa 1980. Innovation and excitement happen at the small scale and local level. Bands lose money, and cannot keep it up forever. You have to find them during the few years that they are driven by youthful energy and the excitement of playing and being creative. After a few years they realize they are going to starve if they keep it up and they stop. Word of mouth, via the Internet, is the best way to find out about below the radar developments during their brief existence. The major media sources for music treat musicians and their product like the launch of a new line of automobiles — my daughters are into the Disney singers, who are totally packaged. There is a lot of money at stake, and they do not leave anything to chance.

    Both charts show the same picture: Stasis.

  10. I’m a #1 Muffs fan too and it’s weird how a band can be so consistently great and not really make the big time – they do have a tune in the Rock Band game so maybe the youngsters will get wind of their excellent songwriting, 6 great albums, amazing live shows and interesting history playing with the Pandoras, Redd Kross, White Flag, Beards, NOFX, etc.

    Tom Petty is simply grandfathered in because he was famous before the decline of rock on the radio/charts.

    Few new rock bands have been invited into the club in the post-grunge era…White Stripes, Jet, Strokes, (who are probably only famous because of their publicity stunt), Kings of Leon, etc. but the quality of the rock music on the charts is inconsistent and arbitrary. There are amazing bands everywhere today, just not many on the billboard charts or radio.

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