Friday Afternoon Jukebox – Frank Turner Edition
I like to think of myself as a huge fan of music, even though I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about making it. Still, I worked in a record store when I was a teenager, dammit, and that’s “industry experience,” right? There’s not a single type of Western music that is unrepresented on my Pandora feed or my old CD collection.
And yet….I’m a total fuddy-duddy. The extent of my knowledge of popular music over the last 15 years comes from what makes it on to my daughter’s Kidzbop downloads. Worse, on the rare occasion when I hear the “real” version of one of those songs, I wind up frequently thinking that the Kidzbop version was a lot less bad. Noticeably absent, though, is anything that could remotely be called “rock and roll.” Indeed, rock isn’t even showing up on the album charts, where it has historically been stronger than its performance on the singles charts. My daughter seems to have the same view of even the most current rock music as I had of lounge music when I was a kid. Functionally, I agree with Jerry Coyne’s conclusion that “rock and roll” is effectively dead as a form of relevant music in the popular imagination.
But there is still good rock and roll being made, even if it doesn’t show up on the Top 40 charts anymore outside of an occasional appearance by the Foo Fighters. I’m an unabashed fanboy of Gaslight Anthem (though I was disappointed by the recent “Get Hurt” album), and I tend to enjoy Kings of Leon when they make an appearance on the radio. Lately, I’ve been on a Frank Turner kick. Just good, old fashioned rock and roll.
One thing that’s interesting is that so many of these final bearers of the rock and roll flame are, at heart, punk rockers – Dave Grohl came out of the ’80s DC punk scene, Gaslight Anthem out of the New Brunswick, NJ punk scene in the early to mid ’00s, and Turner out of the late ’90s/early ’00s British hardcore punk scene. Yet their music for the most part comes across as more Springsteen than Sex Pistols. The movement that sought to rebel gave birth to artists full of nostalgia for what the movement sought to supplant – Gaslight Anthem’s records are chock full of references to 40s and 50s Americana, to Miles Davis and 45s, Grohl’s Sonic Highways album and TV show are a celebration of the music scenes of postwar America, and Turner proclaims that he “still believes” in Elvis, Jerry Lee, and Johnny:
Here’s a simple lamentation for love lost:
And a throwback to late ’90s rock: