I just wanted to address briefly why I dubbed my blog The Kids Are All Dead, which sounds like a Misfits song and thus ridiculously morbid. Nah, gentle readers. I enjoy a good child murder joke as much as the next chap, but it has nothing to do with actual dead children.
The name is derived, of course, from an EP by the absolutely amazing Dillinger Four, which is also called The Kids Are All Dead
. Anyone who knows me knows that I think Dillinger Four is one of the best American bands of all time, and that I gleefully love playing "Thanks For Nothing, Pt. 2" and "!!Noble Stabbings!!" to some of my more timid friends. On just a level of memorability and catchiness, The Kids Are All Dead has a nice ring to it.
Of course, I'm such an obsessive nerd that there has to be more than that to it. The Kids Are All Dead was chosen because of my contempt for nostalgists and most of the people I encounter on the "scene."
The nostalgists (aka almost all of the Baby Boomers and now a healthy portion of Gen Xers), are the ones convinced that their generation was the best, yup yup yup, and there will never be a better one. There will never be a better festival than Woodstock/Lollapalooza, a better band than the Beatles/Nirvana, and theirs was the only music that mattered
, maaaaan. They have effectively cut out the younger generation of performers and fans, dismissing them as children with bad taste or copycats who will never be as good as their venerated rock gods. To them, the kids might as well all be dead. For all the coverage they give to interesting new groups, Rolling Stone must run at least two massive retrospectives. Led Zeppelin was on the cover recently, and no one could explain why, except that "Zep was an awesome band, dude!" and they wanted to prattle on about them again
. A band that's been broken up for 26 years has no business being on the cover of the biggest music magazine in the country "just 'cause." Same thing has started happening with the Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Soundgarden followers. They're starting to get old enough to have decision-making power at some of the bigger magazines (like Spin, which I don't think has heard a record made after OK Computer
), and so they're turning into the college-rock version of Old Guard they held in such contempt. To them, too, the kids might as well be all dead.
While not as noxiously arrogant and victimized by rose-colored hindsight, I think hold most of those I encounter on the contemporary scene with much less regard because they've taken the fun out of rock 'n' roll. Rock is supposed to be energetic music that whips you into a frenzy. It's supposed to make you want to do childlike things like run around in circles and start fights and jump and and down and tap into something pure and primal. To steal a bit from Orwell, it should be Two Minutes' Awesome. I can't tell you how many times I've been to a show when the group was absolutely killing
it, and I was the only one getting into it. Ted Leo, Supersystem, Sleater-Kinney...why would you watch these groups with your arms folded? When I went to see Supersystem, I boogied my ass off, and I was the only one. Everyone else stood there with their arms folded. What the hell? Is enthusiasm uncool? Is sincerity met with the kind of contempt that won't get you laid? It's like their inner child is dead, that they don't know how to have fun with rock 'n' roll anymore. Adults "make the scene," kids rock the fuck out.
Don't even get me started on the joyless nerds who collect music. I'm a record collector, so I love finding an obscure gem as much as anyone else. However, I collect the music I love to listen to. I've gotten so many weird looks when I've gone up to the counter with both a Discharge record and a Randy Newman record under my arm. I don't collect music because I have to have every single Congolese acid house song ever released or because I feel like the K Records catalogue is the only one with enough cred for me, and I certainly don't feel like I have to have every single limited edition seven inch released by every bumfuck record label in America and the UK. I collect music because so much good stuff exists, and I want to hear as much of it as possible. Music flicks a switch in my brain that makes me feel incredible, and if the music that got me off was Barry Manilow or Rod Stewart, I wouldn't care. Being cool has nothing to do with it for me; it's all about the feeling of joy I experience whenever I hear the perfect song. I don't care if the perfect song was written and performed by someone who sold 100 copies or 100,000. Obscurity does not equal greatness, just as mainstream does not equal crap. The zeal to out-obscure every other indier-than-thou nerd takes all the fun out of music. Once again, the inner child that just wants to find that one killer song is dead and has been replaced with the humorless adult. If I wanted to surrounded by over-dressed grown-ups who thought that they were better than everyone else, I woulda gone to the fuckin' symphony, dig?
I see far too many of the self-serious, unsmiling types at shows, and it bums me out, because they are in the middle of some incredible music, and they don't seem to be fully appreciating it. I'm sure when they all become 40, they'll start talking about the time they went to see Ted Leo and how "it totally moved me." Yeah, right. I was there. I saw you, you frowning prick.
Anyway, the point is that I called it The Kids Are All Dead because of the veneration of dead music over the music alive and kicking right now, and also because of the youthful energy that seems to have gone out of a large portion of the audience. In my mind, the kids really are dead, and the few of us left hate those that killed them. That's why I do this. It's not a whole lot, but I'm doing what I can to try and reclaim rock 'n' roll for those to whom it means something, anything, everything.