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Dad rock

I was having an interesting online chat with statistics blogger Matt Briggs. Matt was making unfavourable comparisons of the Beatles to earlier masters like Cole Porter, particularly in the lyrics department. While I'm hardly the biggest Beatles fan in the world - I can honestly say I've never bought one of their records in my life, I think it's hard not to recognise their influence on pretty much everyone else who has come since. No their lyrics were probably not up to the standards of Porter's, but to me it's the music that counts anyway.

I was reminded of this exchange at a dinner party the other day, when I observed the teenage son of one of the other guests wearing a Queen t-shirt, which struck me as a bit out of date for one so young - much more my era than his. Anyway, the aforementioned teenager explained that bands like Queen and Pink Floyd remain very popular among the young, where they form a genre known as "dad rock".

This made me feel very old.

Does this renewed lease of life for the old seventies rockers mean that they represent a form of music of genuine longevity.  Having spent a few months revisiting some of the murkier depths of my record collection, it's clear to me that Queen, Pink Floyd and parts of the Genesis oevre sound as fresh as they did thirty years ago. Do these groups have genuine staying power? It certainly looks like it to me. Nobody I knew listened to the Beatles when I was young.


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Reader Comments (10)

Judging by the parents with their children at Sonisphere at the weekend, Metallica are now Dad Rock (along with all the classic metal bands)

Aug 4, 2009 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterTristan

What Bernard Levin called "the sieve of history". We don't actually know what of current output will be read, listened to, in the future. But we can at least think that over time, the shite will be sieved out and we'll end up with the good stuff. His example was that Salieri is not listened to, Mozart is. But it applies to Queen and The Sweet just as much......

Aug 4, 2009 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim Worstall

Not only are bands from that ere still popular, but they are being imitated and interpreted by new generations of musicians. 'Krautrock' - Can, Nau! are particularly heavily referenced by modern indie (not the genre) rock bands.

Recently saw an amazing gig by Earthless, who do a great Blue Cheer / Sabbath / Kraut thing while happily playing 40 minute tracks.

Goes back to the 80s and 90s too, The Happy Mondays got a lot of their sound from this Can track

Aug 4, 2009 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRyan Roberts

Quoting Bernard Levin is an automatic fail in my book.
Levin doesn't rock!

Aug 4, 2009 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavidNcl

Your fellow-guest's teenage son and his peers are probably applying the label "dad rock" in a not altogether successful attempt, using a hopefully demeaning label, to conceal the fact that compared with much of the bilge trotted out by their current contemporaries, they find that Floyd and Freddie M were actually, er, rather better.

St George's own son (early 20's), came up for air from a session with his old dad's i-Pod, having been regaled with the unreconstructed Southern Rock talents of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Little Feat, and Blackfoot, with a "Jeez, Dad, this stuff is good!".

QED, I think.

Aug 4, 2009 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael St George

Yes, quite. And my father classical pianist and Brubeck lover that he was thought the Hendrix was the best thing he'd ever heard.

The truth is the big rock bands actually did have something. The Who, Sabbath and Zeppelin have it but the Stones and the beatles dont. I knew that in 1974. Slayer and Megadeth have it to0 - but Metallica are only pretending to have it.

It's not just being able to play or some kind of authenticty jive... it's about being real voyagers.

Aug 4, 2009 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavidNcl

When I was a teenager music seemed incredibly important. We read deadly serious rock papers like the NME, MM & Sounds. In contrast for my children's generation music is just one interest competing with TV, internet and video games. They may like or dislike the music but they aren't as absorbed with it as we were.

When we were young there was no way we would admit to liking certain things such as music from our parent's era. It was too uncool. But since the importance of rock music has declined, there is no reason for the young to reject their parents music in the way we did.

Having said that my kids describe Pink Floyd as nightmare music. They mean Careful With That Axe Eugene, Echoes or Great Gig in the Sky.

Aug 4, 2009 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK

My kids' secondary school encourages them to sing, play guitar and form bands. At a recent concert the bands played mainly Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and some early Motown. It was rather sweet.

Our in-car CD collection includes The Who, the Stones, David Bowie, and other Music for Old Farts, and the kids sing along happily. It's only when we try to play 1980s electropop that they start screaming at us to turn it off!

In a pub the other day, we listened to a skiffle band playing music that ranged from the 1950s right up to Amy MacDonald. Good songs will catch on and last.

Funnily enough, we hardly ever listen to the Beatles. So many of the songs are great, but the arrangements sound strangely dated.

Aug 8, 2009 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBessie

"Music for Old Farts"

I should register that - I can see it as a very successful label, especially as its consumers will be among the few left still buying CD's...

Aug 12, 2009 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

William Gibson wrote Idoru about eternally relevant rock stars.

It is true, though, that about 40% of my son's favorite songs are his parents' favorite songs.
I expect this to change somewhat as he progresses through the teen years...

Aug 20, 2009 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

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