Friday, February 01, 2013

The Winners' History of Rock 'n' Roll: Revisionist History At Its Finest

Let's flash back to February, 2011, shall we? Arcade Fire wins the Album of the Year Grammy for The Suburbs and sales for it soar to just over (drum-roll please) . . . 600,000?! A great year for Arcade Fire, maybe, but a shitty year for rock 'n' roll.

What happened? Steven Hyden has a theory: the History of Rock 'n' Roll has been written predominantly by, and for, losers. Think about it: the common ascension myth of rock requires an alienated outsider to start strumming a guitar and find his unique voice and rocket to fame by singing to, and on behalf of, the alienated masses.

To resort to the vernacular of rock's forebears: we're talking pure shuck 'n' jive, folks. If there's a planet that has learned to love a loser, we're not on it.

Hyden amends the record with The Winners' History of Rock 'n' Roll: Led Zeppelin, KISS, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith — critically-reviled crowd-pleasers, one and all. Will Hyden's revisionist history be enough to lift rock back into the pantheon of winner-dom? Hard to say, but it does make for entertaining reading.

Hey, Johnny: we're still not paying attention.


Joel said...

Initially thoughts without having read the whole series---I always considered Led Zeppelin to be in a different class than the latter 3. Maybe I'm just biased because I liked them, but I think today their popular reputation (if not their critical reputation) is doing pretty good these days. Kiss and Bon Jovi are often mocked, but Led Zeppelin has achieved the rock legend status of the Jimi Hendrix or the Beatles.

Darrell Reimer said...

Keep reading, Joel. Hyden's history is as much about the business of rock as it is the sonics/aesthetics. It's aaaaaalmost a (gasp!) Marxist approach. I can't wait to see what he does with Metallica.

Yahmdallah said...

Thanks for the links. What a hoot.