Musings on Music: Has rock and roll lost its rock and roll?


At first, one might guffaw at the statement, “Rock and roll is dying”, citing events such as SxSW as concrete proof that rock and roll is, um, not dead.

Good point. But isn’t there a much deeper and more interesting conversation to be had regarding rock and roll than just that of its (im)mortality? How about that of the ethos of rock and roll versus the institution of rock and roll?

The institution of rock and roll is a money making machine, synonymous with album sales and private jets. What began as a rebellious movement has been watered down to become the formulaic, over produced and over promoted product that we know today. It has become accepted by pop culture, the very fact of which discredits it at its core and has signaled the beginning of its end.

But the ethos of rock and roll is thriving. Not since its inception have we seen such rebellion, collaboration and chaos in music. It’s beautiful, really. Listeners are taking music back into their own hands through a movement that would make Robin Hood proud. More direct interaction with and support of artists is taking money that would have gone into the velvet pockets of the rich and putting it into the pockets of the ones who really deserve it, the artists. This, coupled with advances in and the proliferation of technology, has created an explosion of new artists, genres, and collaborations. It has raised the ethos of rock and roll from the dead.

Now we can circle back around to the discussion of the (im)mortality of rock and roll. Can we make a definitive decision about the future of rock and roll? Not really. But I think it’s safe to say that rock and roll has lost its rock and roll, if you know what I mean. Just look at the photo above. Isn't it interesting that the statement decrying the death of rock n' roll is surrounded by the living proof that it is still alive and well?

- Ben Cheney

Original photo taken at SxSW 2010 by Joey Camire