Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Worst/Best Rock Songs About Rock Part 3

The Who, "Long Live Rock"
Long ago, someone asked me which band I hated more: Pink Floyd or The Who. I think I went with Pink Floyd at the time, but I think I have to revise that estimate. There are more Pink Floyd songs I can tolerate and even enjoy, and I can respect Roger Waters for writing songs that meant something to him. When I hear The Who, I think of a quartet of Brits lining up at an ATM and inserting songs for cash*. "My Generation?" "Baba O'Rilley?" "Pinball Wizard?" They sound to me like peals of money being yanked from teenage hands. No song is a worse offender than "Long Live Rock." When the chorus extols the virtues of standing in line for a rock show, that's not being in touch with reality. That's thanking your audience for being sheep.

*To be fair, I also thing about trampled Cincinnati fans, a cocaine overdose and child pornography.

The Minutemen, "History Lesson, Part 2"
Certainly a lot less raucous than any previous best rock song about rock, "History Lesson, Part 2" is a Minutemen tribute to punk rock, only it sounds nothing like punk. It just sounds…like The Minutemen, which is to say, great. Unlike The Who pretending to connect with their fanbase, The Minutemen reached for a personal story. When singer/guitarist D. Boon says/sings "Punk rock changed our lives," there's no reason to doubt that he was entirely sincere, and when he says "Mister Narrator, this is Bob Dylan to me," is stated so plainly that it seems like the most obvious observation put to music, and you want to cry a little and kick yourself for not coming up with it.