Monday, April 10, 2006

Steve Morse

Every rock critic, rock fan or person interested in either rock criticism or rock and roll should read Steve Morse's going away column in the Boston Globe. It's a stirring reminder just how young rock really is, and how there are those that walk among us who have experienced it from the very start, artists, writers and fans alike.

Some - OK, a lot - of young bucks virtually celebrated the announcement of Morse's retirement, as well as that of Robert Hilburn at the Los Angeles Times and others of their generation. True, folks like Morse probably grew a little out of touch. Really, of what contemporary critical value is the opinion of a man whose standard-bearer is Hendrix to someone weaned on Public Enemy, even if in a sense both acts were doing the same thing? The anti-rockists would (probably rightfully) decry his relative inability to grasp loop-based/computer/electronic music, from rap to glitch to grime to Jacques Lu Cont or Richard X. And it's a little conspicuous that the only hip-hop act mentioned at all in this column is Eminem, and only in passing. You'd think a guy who reveres Aerosmith this much could at least toss in a Run DMC reference.

But reading the litany of his high-points ... wow. That's a lot of big names and big stars. Will a rock critic starting today and reminiscing in 35 years, be able to drop as many instantly recognizable names, or talk about as many instantly familiar, infamous shows? God, I hope so, but I have my doubts. Music listening is so fragmented, so scattered and segmentalized that its history has gone totally scattershot. There is no history of rock/pop anymore. It's now a matter of *which* history, and *whose.* And when and where, etc.

Is that a bad thing? Probably not. But it takes artists - and writers - of real impact to change things, music and journalism alike. And the relative lack of both makes me wonder what the near future has in store. Plenty of surprises, I hope/imagine. But I also expect an ever-increasing number of disappointments.


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