Rock and Roll
Somewhere in 60s in a dark Vietnamese jungle a soldier sighs breathing in the wet heavy jungle air and flips a doors tape into his tape player and filling the jungle air with the plaintive poetic sounds of the Electric Poet and his band of musical prophets. In San Francisco a Flower child listens to the Stones and prepares for the days protests and Love ins.
Decades later in the confusing 70s a young boy hears Rock and Roll for the first time and is changed forever _ trading in his Jim Croce albums for Zepplin, Queen and Pink Floyd he looks at the world in a new way. he’s still a nerd but now he has Rock and Roll in his soul.
Still later another soldier in another war plays Metallica while riding in a gunship over h the sun baked desert air (I saw this on you tube) From Bill Hailey and the Comets to Three Days Grace and Five Fingered Death punch ..Rock and Roll and all its bastard off spring have reminded us what life is and that we can live it better , less hatefully and more powerfully.
Whether it means dancing til you drop or just not being a Dick.
It seems likely that Rock and Roll was birthed in the conformist 50s as a cultural exchange program between white performers who imitated and blended music from performers of African decent likely wanting to sound cool and rebellious; and black performers who it seems likely wanted to pay the rent by making their sound accessible.
Rock and Roll endures because it eternally looks forward and reinvents itself ….
By the time the International Hotel later known and the Hilton was conceived Rock was in grade school a pre teen discovering its own power and freeing it self from its innocent past.
When the International Hotel was planned and built there was revolution in the air and the smell of petuli oil and marijuana smoke filtered through the air in most cities as the winds of change blew and Rock and Roll first exercised the full breadth of its musical power.
The Rock and Roll remodel
By Royal Hopper
The decades old hotel where I work recently began a full remodel of several floors stripping the rooms down to the concrete and metal of their frames. Some remodeling was in older parts of the hotel where flower children no doubt worked along side fans of Bill Hailey and the Comets when the place was built. You can almost imagine the conversations that took place between the people who built the Icon now known as the International.
Some remodeling was done in places where floors were added to decades later when Rock was a teenager full of angst and irony.
If you stop and think for a moment you can feel the ghosts of those eras floating in the air and realized they all have one thing in common. Rock and Roll was always there even when they couldn’t book a gig in the hotels.
Under all the darkness and hard-driving beat and implied decadence the central message of Rock and Roll in all its incarnations to me is ..We are who we are not who we were and who we are can be better… as a species …as individuals as a family ..we can be and do better
The purpose of Rock and Roll is to let us know …we can do better ..We don’t have to be like we are…
The point of all this rambling is to tell you about a concert my significant other and I ( that’s wife for all you millennials) went to in the first part of this new year.
Disturbed is a Chicago metal band who in my opinion is in the top one percent of modern rock bands. The Days Grace opened for them and were pretty good too.
The black Gothic T shirt I wore contrasting sharply with the gray white of my tasteful goatee and got compliments from Teeny Bopper metal heads chicks who seemed surprised that an old guy could still rock out to the Driving Dark edgy Metal Beat of the Chicago based Heavy Metal outfit…..My wife’s long black leather coat and studded leather boots accented the black concert T she wore.
The show was awesome with the huge digital screen behind the stage broad casting images of the band 20 yards high _ large enough for those of us in the bleachers to see them.
There is one song I remember particularly called “Someone Taught You How to Hate” Disturbed (Immortalized 2015…. )
Paraphrasing Disturbed front man David Michael Draiman in his pre song speech …..”I don’t understand why we cant just all live together ….we are all in this together …look around there are black and white,, straight and gay …implying that we were all here to enjoy the dark metal sounds of Disturbed and why cant we all love each other in life as we do at Metal concerts …Prior to another song the band the Disturbed front man talked about all the performers and friends lost to drug abuse and suicide and depression and urged people to say something if someone they knew was in trouble.
Just remember the Metal front man seemed to say whatever the issue is we can always do better . That is the simplest way to explain Rock and Roll ..underneath all the bullshit decadence to real message is .We can always do better ….