An Open Letter to Aerosmith and Steve Tyler

Dear Steve Tyler:

What? I mean… what? Country?

http://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=32195621

You don’t know what this is doing to me.

You need to understand that you were the guys who really introduced me to rock and roll. Yes, you were. Ever since I listened to Aerosmith’s Rocks when I was thirteen I’ve wanted to grow my hair long and play guitar.

Yes, there have always been slight credibility problems at times. There’s no question Aerosmith was always intended to be America’s Rolling Stones. Too obvious a match, from the five-man lineup to the big-lipped brunette singer and bad boy persona. But your first three albums were great 70s blues-based rock and roll, and then you released Rocks, which is one of the great rock albums of the 70s, track for track. And as big a joke as the Sgt. Pepper’s film was, your cover of “Come Together” was a high point, alongside Earth, Wind and Fire and Billy Preston, so long as, in the latter case, you shut your eyes and just listened to the music. It went downhill from there — Draw the Line was a sloppier production, but it was still great rock and roll — until it hit a low point when Joe Perry left, but as a band Aerosmith still produced consistently good rock and roll albums from your first album through Night in the Ruts.

We can excuse the 80s, as Joe left for a few years. And I have to admit, Permanent Vacation was a real comeback in the late 80s. Forget the hits. It’s just a good rock album. But then another credibility problem surfaced: tin pan alley writers like Jim Vallance started helping you out, and your band took a distinct commercial turn in the 80s and 90s. I don’t mean to begrudge you your success, but again, you’re getting harder to defend here.

But I’ve always been able to say one thing, especially to my friends who are fans of the Rolling Stones, or who are younger and know you only from the 90s and diss you mercilessly: at least Aerosmith never recorded any disco songs or any country songs. At least.

Until now.

You’re really making things hard, Tyler.

Couldn’t you have gone unplugged and called it “Americana” or something? I’d buy that. Plus, you know, you’d be at least trying to maintain a shred of dignity. At least a teeny little shred?

Dear Aerosmith:

I want you guys to drop Steve Tyler for one album. I want you to bring in Mick Jagger as a guest vocalist and songwriter. And I want you to name the album The Real Thing. You can do that because everyone still respects Joe. They never actually quit respecting Joe no matter what Aerosmith did.

Love,

A voice crying from the 70s.

PS I mean, seriously, guys, what’s next? A Jimmy Page disco album? Robert Plant already had his arse handed to him by a four foot tall fiddle player. The 70s would be dying a horrifying, ignoble death if Neil Young weren’t at least still recording protest music. And, oh yeah, what ever happened to protest music? I mean serious protest music. We need it now more than ever. Thank you, Neil Young. 

CFP (Anthology): Rock and Romanticism

CFP: Rock and Romanticism

NOTES: 

  1. I have set up a blog dedicated to the Rock and Romanticism anthology: https://rockandromanticism.wordpress.com/. When this page is no longer pinned to the top of this blog, all future updates on the anthology will have been migrated to that location. 

2. The August 1st deadline for proposals has passed. However, I plan to send my first proposal out to a publisher by August 15th at the latest, so I can still accept proposals through August 8th. Please contact me by August 8th if you have an idea but cannot send me a proposal until after August 8th.

3. This page is continually being updated as I receive proposals or ideas for proposals. Please check the list below for topics covered. I am happy to accept more than one essay about the same figure, but of course these essays need to take different approaches. 

4. I was on the road from July 5th to July 14th. There may have been delays responding to your queries and proposals during that time. Please accept my apologies.  

The editor of Rock and Romanticism is soliciting essays about the ways in which rock music, broadly defined, expands, interprets, restates, and conflicts with Romanticism, broadly defined. “Rock music” as a category will be extended to include all popular music since the 1950s, including but not limited to rock, varieties of metal, R&B, soul, varieties of punk, folk, techno, progressive rock, indie, new wave, alternative, psychedelic, industrial, gothic, funk, country, and blues. If the music has been written or performed since the 1950s and you’re wondering if it fits, the answer is “yes.” [1] For the purposes of this study, “Romanticism” will also be broadly defined, considering trans-European, trans-Atlantic, and global Romanticisms as well as Romanticism in literature, art, and music.

You can see a list matching potential musicians and Romantic-era literary figures, a provisional bibliography, and a sense of how I’m theorizing Romanticism on the blog post “Romanticism and Rock.”

Papers might consider

  • women in rock and women in Romanticism;
  • lyric poetry and song lyrics or song lyrics as lyric poetry;
  • readings of rock and Romanticism that compare
    • conditions between Europe during the Napoleonic wars and conditions in the post-McCarthy era and/or post 9-11 United States,
    • the 1960s or later Ireland or the UK, or
    • 1960s or later continental Europe, including Eastern Europe and the Baltic states (any possible essays on Rammstein and Romanticism?);
  • the gothic in literature and in music;
  • opera and the rock opera;
  • drug use, drug literature, and drug music of the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries;
  • the pastoral in Romantic literature and in rock music;
  • adaptations, interpretations, direct responses to, and performances of Romantic-era texts by twentieth-century and later musicians;
  • the figure of Satan in Romanticism and in rock;
  • protest literature and protest music;
  • sexual identity in Romanticism and rock.

Ideal papers will theorize or historicize their subjects in a way that places rock music in a coherent dialog with Romantic-era art, literature, or music, contributing to a consideration of the boundaries or definition(s) of “Romanticism” as an artistic mode while also considering the implications of chronological, national, social, sexual, and/or economic difference. Papers from contemporary artists/musicians reflecting upon the influence of Romantic-era art, literature, or music upon their work are also welcome.

Please email a 250-500 word proposal that includes your name, title, institutional affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, email address, and a brief, updated CV to jamesrovira@gmail.com by August 1st, 2015. Completed papers, which should be within the 5000-7000 word range, are expected by November 15, 2015.

You can see a list of artists and poets with a provisional bibliography on the blog post “Romanticism and Rock.”

I have received notice of interest or proposals for the following figures:

Musician/Artist Romantic Era Connection Status
The Beatles/Sgt. Pepper’s Wordsworth Proposal received and accepted
David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust Blake and Keats Proposal received and accepted
David Bowie and Brian Eno (late 70s) Wordsworth/Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads Proposal received and accepted
Nick Cave Romanticism/gothic and sublime Awaiting proposal
Nick Cave Romanticism/transgressive artist Proposal received and accepted
60s Dylan (not comprehensively) Blake and the Beat poets Proposal received and accepted
Dylan Keats and Shelley, or just Shelley Proposal received and accepted
Woody Guthrie, Ballads of Sacco and Vanzetti Theorizes Guthrie’s ballads using Sayre and Lowy’s “Figures of Romantic Anti-Capitalism” Proposal received and accepted.
The Herd (early Peter Frampton), perf. Paradise Lost Milton and Blake Proposal received and accepted.
Mick Jagger, 1969 Jagger reading Shelley’s Adonais Proposal received and accepted
Iron Maiden Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” Awaiting proposal
Aimee Mann Mann as a Romantic figure as theorized by Cavill Proposal received and accepted
Marilyn Manson’s Triptych Blake and Bryon Proposal received and accepted
Morrisey and Bowie Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Proposal received and accepted
Norwegian Black Metal Primitivism/return to nature Awaiting proposal
The Pretenders, Pretenders William Blake, Vision of the Daughters of Albion, comparing female responses to male aggression and passivity. Proposal received and accepted.
Martha Redbone’s Roots Project William Blake Proposal received and accepted
Lou Reed, The Raven Edgar Allan Poe Proposal received and accepted
Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil” Milton’s Satan Awaiting proposal
Rush Rush and Romanticism Proposal received and accepted
U2, Songs of Innocence Blake Proposal received and accepted
U2, Songs of Innocence and Leonard Cohen Blake Proposal received and accepted
Van Morrison VM himself as a Romantic poet, comp. to several Romantic-era figures, particularly Blake Proposal received and accepted
Various: the 60s Various: the 60s as a Romantic era Proposal received and accepted
Various: 60’s era apocalypse Various: the Romantic era and apocalypse Proposal received and accepted
Various: 80s New Romanticism Various: English Romanticism Proposal received and accepted
Various: a contribution by the author/director of a staged version of Werther set to music by Lou Reed, Florence and the Machine, Rhianna, etc. Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther Proposal received and accepted.
Various: Pathetic fallacy in rock and Romanticism. AFI, Finch, La Dispute, etc. Various: Blake and Wordsworth Proposal received and accepted
Various: songs of the open road, including Joplin, Springsteen, Dylan, and Berry Various: Songs for the Open Road anthology Proposal received and accepted
Tom Verlaine/ post-punk Romantic-era responses to Napoleon Proposal received and accepted
Women in Rock (Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Stevie Nicks) Women in Romanticism (Mary Shelley and Charlotte and Emily Brontë) Proposal received and accepted
Neil Young and Jackson Browne These musicians as Romantic poets, compared to Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats Proposal received and accepted
4AD Records’s This Mortal Coil project (includes The  Cocteau Twins) Walpole, Beckford, Shelley and Lewis Proposal received and accepted

[1] Except for disco, because disco sucks.

Romanticism and Rock

Updated June 7th with additional links, a bibliography, and an expanded contributor list. 

If you’re interested in the topic of this post, please consider submitting a proposal to the edited anthology Rock and Romanticism.

I’m thinking about developing a course about Rock and Roll and Romanticism for the Spring 2016 semester, so I asked my colleagues on the NASSR list for music recommendations that pair well with Romantic-era poetry and prose. They responded generously with numerous suggestions both for pairings between rock and roll and Romantic texts and for the course in general. I’ve posted a list below.

Why rock and roll and Romanticism? “Romanticism” as a literary movement has traditionally been defined both thematically and as a period, with periodization usually taking priority. As a periodized trans-European phenomenon, Romanticism usually starts with either Rousseau’s writings of the 1760s-1780s, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther in 1774, or the fall of the Bastille in 1789, and it lasts until about 1850, at least in England. By this date Wordsworth, Mary Shelly, and most other first and second-generation Romantic poets had died.

Thematically, Romantic literature tends to focus on the individual over and above the state or other economic or political structures, on democracy over and above monarchy or the aristocracy, on nature over and above the urban, and on imagination and passion over and above reason and traditional moral structures. Many of us who think today that our deepest feelings represent somehow our essential selves have the Romantics to thank.

Because Romanticism is a trans-European and trans-chronological phenomenon, it is very difficult to define precisely. Scholars have been wrestling with the question “What is Romanticism?” for as long as Romanticism as been defined as a literary movement, but especially since A.O. Lovejoy’s early twentieth-century essay, “On the Discrimination of Romanticisms.” In it, he claims that the term “Romanticism” has come to mean so many different things that it has ceased to serve the function of a verbal sign.

For the sake of my course, and perhaps to the annoyance of some of my favorite Romanticists, I will probably theorize Romanticism using Sayre and Löwy’s Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity (2001). In this book, the authors develop a taxonomy of different Romanticisms (their solution to the problem Lovejoy posed) while presenting a unified definition of Romanticism as a response to capitalism.

So theorized, Romanticism then exists as a literary mode independent of any period. I am tempted to define English Romanticism as starting with Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749). If this starting point doesn’t make sense to you, try comparing the moral reasoning of its titular character to the presentation of Blake’s Jesus at the end of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, who acted from impulse rather than rules. In this approach to Romanticism, the 1950s and certainly the 1960s are the most recent resurgence of Romanticism as a mode, one that continues into the present. If you were to reread my thematic description of literary Romanticism above, it’s not hard to read it as a simultaneous description of the major themes in a great deal of rock music. And as you’ll see from the list below, many artists from the 1960s forward drew inspiration from major figures in English Romanticism.

We need to be careful when talking about either literary modes or periods, however: it’s a mistake to think that even if we could define Romanticism as starting in 1789 and ending in 1850 that all literature and art during this period is therefore Romantic. Even periodization does not eliminate the need for attention to theme. Earlier generations of Romantic-era scholars tended to define Romanticism in opposition to Classicism, which at least allowed for two different modes of literature to co-exist within the same period (even if they tended to periodize Classicism earlier in the eighteenth century). We should do the same, at the least seeing Romanticism as a mode arising within a specific historical and social context and then continuing into the present, co-existing alongside other disursive modes arising before and after it and continuing alongside it into the present.

A provisional list is below, which as you see very broadly defines both Romanticism and rock and roll. Please email me with further suggestions at jamesrovira at gmail dot com, and I will add your suggestions to the list and credit you below. Many thanks to all who contributed.

If you’re interested in more on William Blake in popular culture, check out the online gallery for the Blake in the Heartland exhibit on this site.

William Blake, general responses

Note: Donald Fitch’s Blake Set to Music provides a comprehensive list up to 1989.

Zoamorphosis is an excellent source of material on Blake and popular culture.

William Blake, An Island in the Moon Live performance, stage adaptation by Joe Viscomi
William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Ulver, Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
William Blake, Milton a Poem, “And did those feet…” Jimi Hendrix, “Voodoo Chile
Emerson, Lake and Palmer, “Jerusalem
William Blake, Poetical Sketches The Fugs, “How Sweet I Roamed
William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience Anda al Sinaia, Songs of Innocence and Experience, “The Clod and the Pebble
Daniel Amos, “Instruction Thru Film” (“The Chimney Sweeper,” Innocence)
Daniel Amos, “Sleep Silent Child
David Axelrod, Song of Innocence
David Axelrod, Songs of Experience
William Bolcom, Songs of Innocence and Experience (2.5 hr. orchestral performance of all of the Songs from the 1950s, highly diverse musically)
The Fugs, “Ah! Sunflower
The Man on the Margin (Italian band), “Songs of Innocence and Experience”
Van Morrison, “Let the Slave
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, “The Clod and the Pebble
Terry Scott Taylor, Knowledge and Innocence
U2, Songs of Innocence and Beautiful Ghost/Introduction to the Songs of Experience
Van Morrison, “You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push the River
Victor Vertunni, “Little Boy Lost” (Part of his Songs of Innocence and Experience Project)
Walter Zimmerman, Songs of Innocence & Experience (1949 string quartet, not remotely rock and roll)
See Martha Redbone above for several individual songs.
Robert Burns, general responses Hugh Morrison, Robert Burns Rocks
Robert Burns, “My Heart’s in the Highlands” Bob Dylan, “Highlands
George Gordon, Lord Byron David Bowie, “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean
George Gordon, Lord Byron, “So We’ll Go No More A-Roving” Leonard Cohen, “So We’ll Go No More A-Roving
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights Kate Bush, “Wuthering Heights
Michael Penn, “No Myth
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” Iron Maiden, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Ian McKellen reading “Rime
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan” Rush, “Xanadu
Olivia Newton-John and ELO, “Xanadu
John Keats, “Lamia” Genesis, “The Lamia
John Keats, “Ode on Melancholy” Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds feat. Kylie Minogue, “Where the Wild Roses Grow
Jack Kerouac, On the Road The Waterboys, Modern Blues, especially “Long, Strange, Golden Road
Edgar Allan Poe, Miscellaneous Poems Jeff Buckley, “Ulalume
Marianne Faithfull, “Annabel Lee
Iggy Pop, “Tell Tale Heart
Lou Reed, The Raven
Christopher Walken, “The Raven
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein Edgar Winter, “Frankenstein” (maybe more a reference to James Whales’s film?)
Grateful Dead, “Ramble on Rose
New York Dolls, “Frankenstein
Percy Shelley, “Adonais” The Cure, “Adonais
Mick Jagger reading “Adonais
Vincent Price reading “Adonais” (Yes, Vincent Price is rock and roll — links appreciated if available)
Percy Shelley, The Masque of Anarchy Scritti Polliti, “Lions After Slumber
Percy Shelley, “Ozymandias” Glass Hammer, “Ozymandias
Walter White/Heisenberg reading “Ozymandias” (he’s officially rock and roll now too)
Vincent Price reading “Ozymandias
Percy Shelley, “To a Skylark” The Cure, liner notes to Disintegration
William Wordsworth, general responses Joy Division, “Heart and Soul
Van Morrison, “Summertime in England” (with references to Coleridge, Yeats, and T.S. Eliot)
William Wordsworth, “My Heart Leaps Up” Anton Corbjin, Control, reading of Wordsworth’s poem by Ian Curtis of Joy Division
William Butler Yeats, general responses The Waterboys, An Appointment with Mr. Yeats, September 1913” and others
William Butler Yeats, “The Stolen Child” The Waterboys, “The Stolen Child
References to Byron, Shelley, and Keats Natasha Bedingfield, “These Words
References to John Keats, William Butler Yeats, and Oscar Wilde The Smiths, “Cemetry Gates
“Romantic in tone, mood, or spirit” The Clash
John Denver
The Dropkick Murphys
Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited. See D.A. Pennebaker’s film Don’t Look Back
Echo and the Bunnymen
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Flogging Molly
Genesis, Foxtrot
King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King, In the Wake of Poseidon
The Kinks, Arthur
Led Zeppelin
The Moody Blues, On the Threshold of a Dream and A Question of Balance
Ritchie Blackmore’s Night
Pink Floyd, The Wall: FilmFull Album, Soundtrack, Live 
The Pogues, “Lorelei
Simon and Garfunkel
The Tragically Hip, “Poets
The Waterboys, A Pagan Place, “A Church Not Made with Hands
The Who, Tommy, QuadropheniaWho’s Next 
The “New Romanticism” of the 1980s Spandau Ballet

Partial Bibliography

General

Dettmar, Kevin. Is Rock Dead?  

Dettmar, Kevin. Think Rock

Dettmar, Kevin and Willem Richey. Reading Rock and Roll: Authenticity, Appropriation, Aesthetics. 1999.

Doughty, Howard. “Rock: A Nascent Protean Form.” Popular Music and Society 2.2 (1973).

Eisen, Jonathan. The Age of Rock: Sounds of the American Cultural Revolution (Random House) and The Age of Rock 2: Sights and Sounds of the American Cultural Revolution (Vintage Books).

Lewis, George H. Side Saddle on the Golden Calf: Social Structure and Popular Culture in America (Goodyear Pub. Co.).

Maddocks, Melvin. “The New Cult of Madness.” Time Magazine (March 13, 1972).

Marshall, Lee. “Metallica and Morality: The Rhetorical Battleground of the Napster Wars.” ESLJ 1.1 (2004).

Passmore, John. “Paradise Now: The Logic of the New Mysticism.” Encounter (November 1970). CIA funded source.

Prendergast, Mark. The Ambient Century – from Mahler to Moby, the Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age (Bloomsbury, 2003)

Reynolds, Simon. “Ecstasy is a Science: Techno-Romanticism.” Stars Don’t Stand Still in the Sky: Music and Myth. Ed. Karen Kelly and Evelyn McDonnell. New York: New York UP, 1999. 199-205.

Ross, Alex. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.

Weinstein, Deena. “Art Versus Commerce: Deconstructing a (Useful) Romantic Illusion.” Stars Don’t Stand Still in the Sky: Music and Myth. Ed. Karen Kelly and Evelyn McDonnell. New York: New York UP, 1999. 57-69.

William Blake

Clark, Steve, Tristanne Connolly, and Jason Whittaker. Blake 2.0: William Blake in 20th-Century Art, Music, and CulturePalgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Nick Cave

Barfield, Steven, ‘ “The Time of Our Great Undoing”: Love, Madness, Catastrophe and the Secret Afterlife of Romanticism in Nick Cave’s Love Songs’, in John..H..Baker (ed.) The Art of Nick Cave: New Critical Essays (Bristol, UK. Intellect Book, 2012) 239-260.

Welberry, Karen. “Nick Cave and the Australian Language of Laughter.” Cultural Seeds: Essays on the Work of Nick Cave. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009. 47-64.

The Doors/Jim Morrison

Paunovic, Zoran. Istorija, fikcija, mit (Geopoetika, Beograd 2006). In Serbian. Essay on Blake and Morrison.

Bob Dylan

Corcoran, Neil. Do You, Mr. Jones? Bob Dylan with the Poets and ProfessorsChatto.
Dettmar, Kevin ed. The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan
Dylan, Bob. Chronicles. 2 volumes. Simon and Schuster.
Ricks, Christopher. Dylan’s Visions of Sin. Harper Perennial.

Mary Shelley

McCutcheon, Mark A. Techno, Frankenstein, and CopyrightPopular Music 26.2 (2007): 259-280.

Contributors
Hearty thanks to the following contributors, in alphabetical order:

Rick Albright
Ian Balfour
Suzanne Barnett
Rick Brenner
William Christopher Brown
Adriana Craciun
Kellie Donovan-Condran
Howard Doughty
John-Erik
Michael Falk
Neil Finlayson
Peter Francev
Sandy Gourlay
Gregory, Stephen
Arden Hegele
Joseph M. Johnson
Aaron Kaiserman
Rob Kilgore
C. Kimberly
Silvia Lombardini
Mark McCutcheon
Theresa McMillan
Terry Meyers
Richard Nanian
Aaron J. Ottinger
James Rovira
David Ruderman
Teresa Romero Sánchez-Herrero
Philip Shaw
Pamela Siska
Eugene Stelzig
Zinaida Taran
Chip Tucker
Ana Vukmanović
Sydney Waimsley
Julie Watt
Paul Yoder

Song du jour: A Personal History of Rock

My first exposure to Rock and Roll came through a radio my parents bought me when I was maybe eleven years old. It was a 6″ X 9″ blue radio with a square, silver speaker face that took up most of the front, the whole thing being maybe 2″ thick. It sat there on my dresser like a talking brick, or maybe like the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The dials were underneath the speaker. I think it was just an AM radio.

The first two songs that really stuck with me: CCR’s “Proud Mary”:

And Jethro Tull’s “Bungle in the Jungle”:

And then a friend of my father’s who worked for CBS records let his daughter pick out some albums for me. She was 12, I was 12. She started me out on Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road:

So I spent most of 1976 listening to Elton John, Lake, and a 70s band called Seal (not the artist known for “Kiss From A Rose”). Later that year my friend Niall told me to ask my parents for Aerosmith’s Rocks for Christmas. They got it for me. Instantly changed my life — my life’s ambition (for my 12-13 year old self) became to grow my hair long and play guitar, mainly because of this song:

I said earlier that if somehow you don’t understand Rock and Roll, watch Pirate Radio. The film doesn’t explain it, of course. You don’t have to understand Rock any more than you have to understand eating ice cream. The whole point is having fun. But it elevates fun to something that engages all of your senses — your whole body. Rock and Roll is transcendent fun, a fun that pushes your mind and body to its limits. It’s erotic in the ancient Greek sense: sexual but not just sexual. It’s fully bodily, fully sensory. That’s what “Rock and Roll” means, by the way: the term is early twentieth-century African-American slang for sex, but performers like Ted Nugent say it’s better than sex: Rock goes beyond sex while taking sex along with it all of the way.

Rock and Roll is who we are defined by how we feel. That’s why it resists authority. It’s the assertion of feeling over restraint, the demand of the self to be what it is, immediately, right now, to feel what it feels, and to affirm and validate those feelings with every ounce of energy it has. It is the loudest, most passionate cry of the individual at the moment of his or her greatest individuality.

It’s a party that our senses are having until the body transcends itself.

The history of Rock and Roll is the history of our emotional lives. It’s become a business and an industry, like a wife faking orgasms after ten years of marriage (or really far sooner than that), but while this energy may be channeled through precisely defined demographics that yield generally predictable sales, the energy itself can’t be tamed. It couldn’t be repressed (see Pirate Radio), so it was channeled and packaged.

The greatest danger to Rock and Roll today is that it’s polite. It’s accepted and has a place in this world. What saves it? Miley Cyrus offending everyone? That might be it, but I worry that she’s just more packaging: Madonna was an original, so now Miley is probably just one more marketing strategy. Madonna was a marketing strategy too, but she was one that might have failed. That’s the point. There was risk involved.

In Pirate Radio, this energy overwhelmed itself and sank the ship being used to illegally broadcast Rock from off the coast of England. Rock and Roll is the Sex Pistols and Amy Winehouse: one, maybe two bright, raw albums and then you flare out and die.

But now the ship is fully insured and accompanied by a team of handlers to make sure it arrives at its destination safe and on time.

So what’s it going to take? Maybe Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello writing songs together. Maybe another Marilyn Manson, but Christian baiting isn’t what we need — that plays into another predictable strategy, another line-drawn-in-the-sand-showdown with the usual sides lining themselves up against each other for airtime: another marketing ploy. I’ll make a work of art called Piss Christ if you promise to protest it. See? Everyone’s happy. Anything as mindless and stupid as “Gangnam Style” is a step in the right direction, but that’s so mindless and stupid that it’s no threat to anyone.

Led Zeppelin could rise again if Robert Plant hadn’t been emasculated by a three foot tall girl with a fiddle (okay, yes, they made some great music. I don’t have to be happy about that). Zeppelin needs to relisten to their BBC Sessions album and step back from arena rock, back from heavy metal, back from the late 70s, and produce one more rock album so raw it sounds like punk again. Record it live in the studio. That would be a swan song indeed.

I don’t think Patti Smith cussed even once on her new album.*

Buckcherry has a lot of potential, but they’re so good at this that they don’t have anything to say.

So what’s it going to take?

Intense feelings, a vivid imagination, a good bit of well-placed anger, unselfconscious originality, and an electric guitar.

Then step up to the plate and reinvent this:

*I stand corrected by my friend Sherry. After reading through the lyrics in the album book (an effective work of art in itself), I see that Patti Smith cusses exactly once on the album Banga, at least according to the reprinted lyrics, in the title song.