Asong by the iconic 1960s rock band, the Rolling Stones, chants “It’s only Rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.”
But do listeners still like it?
The Arlington Museum of Art, only $5 per student, is looking to revive that love for rock music. The museum is now showing a three-floor exhibit comprised of photos of classic rock artists taken by Baron Wolman, the first director of photography for Rolling Stone magazine, a publication dedicated to music’s culture and politics.
Most of us have at least heard of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan; but do people still like that “old time rock ’n’ roll”?
Senior economics majors Matthew Witter and Andrew Ringel grew to love classic rock as children, by listening to their fathers play both the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. This background inspired the boys to listen to other bands and learn more about the genre.
“Dylan, Stones, the Beatles, Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Kinks, the Who,” said Ringel. “I definitely have a top four and then there’s just so many great bands back in that era but it all starts with Dylan and the Beatles.”
“[The Rolling Stones] are definitely number one,” said Witter.
Though the friends are passionate about the era, Ringel thought that rock ’n’ roll is dead. Witter said that the genre is not dead, but neglected. “It is just not as hyped up … now because you have artists making awful music, and [those artists] are getting a lot of publicity,” Witter said.
The genre began in the 1940s and ‘50s when artists embraced passion and energy, combining music from around the world with the changing technology of the times.
“Rock ’n’ roll was a statement of rebellion, especially for the Rolling Stones, and especially [in] the era coming out of the ‘50s,” said Witter. “It all started with the blues.”
Rock ‘n’ roll artists revolutionized music; today’s songs can get lost in the normality or the easiness of music, rather than the artistic genius that was once so prominent.
“Don’t even get me started on the lyrics,” Ringel said. “Just look at the lyrics of Bob Dylan.”
Besides having deep lyrics, classic rock can also provide a history lesson.
“It even teaches you history,” Witter said. “The songs say what those times were about. And it echoes and it still does today, and we can still relate to stuff like this now.”
“Classic rock will always be my number one,” said Ringel. “It’s more intelligent.”
The intelligence of classic rock, whether it is manifested in the lyrics, sound or the following of the time, was impressive and is something we should all appreciate today.
And perhaps people do appreciate it. A study in 2014 showed that the number of people who listen to the “classic rock” radio station grew from 23.8 million in 2008 to an impressive 34.28 million in the spring of 2014.
Hopefully everyone now takes the time to listen to tracks by the Beatles or Bob Dylan to experience the era’s musical accomplishments. After listening, remember to visit the Arlington Museum of Art to view the photos of that great era of music and listen to some of that “old time rock ‘n’ roll!”