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I guess I just like liking things

I’ve been thinking lately that the best job would be an on-air DJ for a classic rock station:

  • In theory, you wouldn’t have to learn anything new, music-wise
  • You get to listen to music all day
  • Lunch and bathroom breaks are easy, you just gotta queue up “Free Bird,” “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” and “Stairway to Heaven”

What actually makes something a “classic rock” song, though?  In my mind it’s late 60s to early 80s stuff with a particular sound to it that I couldn’t necessarily describe. It’s usually easier to talk about bands as examples: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, KISS, Rush, Tom Petty.  When someone says “classic rock” you form opinions in your head that are distinctly different from “oldies” or “the best mix of the [list whatever decades you want here].” Up until maybe 5-6 years ago, it wasn’t even a genre I liked much. But then I got older and was required to enjoy the kind of music you might hear from a guy’s garage while he’s working on his lawnmower, even though I don’t own a lawnmower and the most time I ever spend in my garage is setting up the projector for Rock Band parties on New Year’s Eve.

…speaking of, I’m pretty sure Rock Band and Guitar Hero have played a pretty big part in how I came to like the genre.

But I’m still stuck on calling it a “genre,” because it’s so ill-defined. Our local station plays Creedence Clearwater Revival and then The Scorpions and then The Doors and all of a sudden here’s “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. And The Beatles’ early stuff is probably more “oldies” but there’s some definite “classic rock” stuff later. I have a hard time with “Hey Jude” being lumped in with  “Detroit Rock City.” And are 80s metal bands “classic rock” now?

I guess maybe the marker moves as years go by. If “classic” means “older than 25 years, but not older than 40” than classic rock stations are going to have to keep up and that renders my first point up there obsolete. But I also think maybe it is just particular bands, because my local station talks about U2 recording a new album and David Bowie’s latest and it doesn’t seem to me like anything created this year should be filed under “classic,” even if all their other stuff is (and I’m not sure U2 is old enough anyway?).

I get that it’s easiest for us to think in labels and put stuff in particular boxes, I just think we need more specific labels that  we can all agree on. When I play my Pandora Classic Rock station I want to know what I’m getting, and I really don’t understand how sometimes it’s blues all of a sudden.


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