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Art and education tells us the truth about the world.  THAT is what music does, and especially Rock and Roll: it helps us to push back the encroachment of flawed ideals long enough for us to study them and to reform our attitudes into something stronger, something better, something truthful, something priceless.  Are there casualties?  There are.  Any time we push through the doors of consciousness there are times when we push too far, or are ourselves pushed too far and over a cliff, or thugs are sent out to beat us down.  The outriders and scouts sometimes don't come back; the prophets are consumed in the repressions of their damning society and their era, always inherently geared towards backlash; the shamans go on their vision quests and one day don't return (maybe because no one listened anyway, or didn't comprehend), and we are left to close ranks and find more volunteers.  The people are caught between joining those wanting change and following leaders who hold out the carrot of safety, who are then instead swallowed up by the giant institutions--War, Money, Religion--whose mismanagement has been at the heart of why our ideals have been consistently flawed and failing to mesh in spite of all good intentions and works for thousands of years, and thus why our young revolt.  It's a vicious circle, and one that has been going on forever.  We think we can buy our way out of it.  We think doubling police and soldiers is a panacea for society's basic flaws.  We think the fear of "terror" is enough to cover the creation of a police state which itself shores up a failing legal system and government speared on the horns of an overreaching financial one.  Keep telling yourself that.  We dream our way out of it.  We craft our way out of it.  We gather together not as unruly mobs in the end, but as people interested in finding hope again.

Sooner or later those who cannot be bought off will infiltrate our governments and secret societies with enough numbers to make a difference in a change back to multipartisan leadership in the face of greater dangers than the concerns of ANY one party.  The inrush of business to influence government is now seeing what their Frankenstein monsters are wreaking by gumming up the workings of democracy.  It can only balance out, but at what cost to the People who pay for everything that happens?  How long will we continue to support failure and disrespect masquerading as "success"?  We define our link to the earth and skies in UNIVERSAL ways, or our tribes fail one by one.  We will NOT forget our history, but we WILL look ahead, because in looking backwards all the time we will surely trip and fall into some chasm.

The crucible of idiocy is one which breeds great imagination.  It is self defense.  It is also our saving grace as human beings.  No one can hide the truth forever.  It resolves itself from out of the woodwork until people finally notice and embrace it and wonder why they had never seen it before.  We are designed to FACE our fears, not to always run, but we are also designed to reason, not to always fight.  Life is a question of balance, and justice is only blindfolded and impartial when the system is working and we trust it, otherwise the watchdogs need to have an eye open.  It is a question of admitting equality, not continuing to harbour some secret illusion of divinity by belief or by class.  We are equals.  Maybe our actions help define us, but keeping equality in our hearts is certainly an action.

"Substitute your lies for fact/I can see right through your plastic mac/I look all white, but my dad was black/My fine-looking suit is really made out of sack"…  (THE WHO Substitute, 1966)

All of those bands and composers and artists who shake their heads in sorrow later and say, "But we didn't really DO anything; we didn't give ENOUGH," are wrong!  They give us a crystallisation of an era in time into fantasy and reality both, rooted in the TRUTH of our age and it is literally immeasurable.  We carry the strength of it with us into our own era and into our own works.  We can't measure the ripple effect they have had, or how one throw away line or song or performance or dance or album cover or book or magazine might change our life, might open our eyes.  They give us a cocoon of self-confidence within which our OWN ideas can grow and transform.  Reality is the truth of the world enfolded into our own dreams, good and bad, and then given back.  It is based partly on what is, but mainly on our perceptions of what is.  Art gives us new perspectives to consider (not that we have to agree, but again, allow us to triangulate) important messages and attitudes to chew on, to discard or to adhere to, to hold onto, as a light in dark places, instead of sinking into the morass of mediocrity and cultural and political mesmerisation, and MANDATES, instead of thinking we are alone, instead of thinking we aren't worthy to dream.  We dream, because a dream made manifest is more universal and lasting in worth than anything else humans do.  Sometimes for our dream to come true it has to cut through a nearly overwhelming current of flawed ideology and swim upstream in the face of it, to its origin if necessary, and CHANGE the flow of perpetuated ignorance or greed back towards something useful for more creatures, by bringing clarity to turbid waters so that the mainstream is safe to drink without contracting a debilitating illness: hate.

Hate is a rejection of responsibility.  It is our responsibility to learn and to understand.  If we fall into war bands, and never guide them to safety it is our own fault.  If we fail to come to terms with our fellow life forms it is our own fault.  If we hate our enemy it is equality of ignorance, not strength.  We may indeed fight, and face our fears, and learn horrible truths and be granted a vaunted place in the realm of ancient tribal conflict.  Or we may end up as ogres.  When you join a tribe, remember that you all are as responsible to EVERY OTHER TRIBE as you are to yourselves, if you aren't, attrition never stops.

Does Rock and Roll really do all of this?  It CAN.  Some of those messages are better than anything we are getting anywhere else, by ANY means, because they are just as immersive, and aren't watered down through fifty thousand filters of community committees deciding what is or isn't "acceptable", and "official", although committee after committee DOES try to erase, distort and co-opt art in its myriad forms.  Not all art is attractive or even acceptable to us personally, but we can choose what we like for ourselves just fine, thanks.  Our job as adults is to teach the TRUTH about the world and let the kids dream of their own world, a better world, and guide them in shaping it, not to lie to, and repress them into neurotic basket-cases, and pack them into cold storage, like meat to be consumed later.  What brutes would do that?  Industrialised brutes would--they call them workers, soldiers.  Corporate brutes would--they call them customers, investors.  Religious brutes would--they are called "the flock" or even mujahadeen.  We can't seem to manage the truth, because we ourselves manage a fantasy.  We don't even teach the truth in our news anymore, and if we AREN'T teaching it then the kids get their messages anywhere they can, wherever things seem more real and honest and don't have the stink of bullshit all over them.  Truth cuts through the bullshit inherent in EVERY tribe, because it is universal to ALL of them.  Bullshit is a survival instinct, like a warplane throwing out chaff to confuse radar.  Every human has preternatural senses, though, to find the heart of friends and enemies.  We can CHOOSE whether to be straight or to mislead.  We can also determine the worth of mythologies to identity, and learn to collaborate across stories, not to only accept or reject.

"You were under the impression/That when you were walking forward/That you'd end up further onward/But things ain't quite that simple/You got altered information/You were told to not take chances/You missed out on new dances/Now you're losing all your dimples"… (THE WHO I've Had Enough, 1973)

This was the power of bands like The Who and Nirvana.  When they were being honest, we KNEW IT, when they were bullshitting us, we knew it was irony and could tell the difference.  Armed with the truth of our everyday lives as represented by music and imagery and theater and poetry and dance, and CROSS-REFERENCED in the voices of a hundred different bands, a thousand, ten thousand, we rockers take that spiritual energy with us wherever we go, and the ability to discard propaganda by process of recognition and elimination and retain what is true.  We have developed accurate barometers for truth and bullshit.  We are bellwethers for the accuracy of our society's ideals.  Music gives us touchpoints for insight.  Unfortunately for all of us, organised politics are almost the antithesis to free-form expression and thus a great majority of the people who are really representative of our society avoid public office like plague.  We are sadly underrepresented in our own governments, therefore they are geared heavily towards attitudes that don't speak to us, don't represent us.  Generation X has left the building!  However, we remain the undercurrent that is the most powerful human force ever on earth.  Believe it.  No wonder our governments are afraid of us!  Look at the example they have given us.  Look how they have tried to sell us out.

"Some nights I still sleep on the beach/Remember when stars were in reach?/I wander in early to work/Spend my day lickin' boots for my percs"… (THE WHO Bell Boy, 1973)


This is why we rock and roll, and the reasons why it is often frenetic and sometimes impulsive and self-destructive, but that is NOT the most important aspect.  Human life ISN'T a farce, is it?  That's not what it is when it really matters.  It is real and true and spectacular and fun, and it is still as amazing and fantastic as it EVER was no matter what twisted face anyone tries to put on it.

"On December 13, 2011 when the Foo Fighters played in New Zealand, their concert was recorded on the GeoNet seismograph for the duration of their 2½ hour set. This is not the only instance of the Foo Fighters playing at extreme volumes; their performance at Tenants [sic] Vital 2012 in Northern Ireland drew noise complaints from up to fifteen miles away. [18]" Wikipedia: Loudest Band in The World…  retrieved 2013-06-09

"It's times like these you learn to live again/It's times like these you give and give again/It's times like these you learn to love again/It's times like these time and time again"…; (FOO FIGHTERS Times Like These,  2002)

Oh yes, we can rock the world, too.  Did you think billionaire board room meetings or nuclear bombs are the most powerful thing?  Culture dwarfs them.  No matter what happens to us WE create the culture of truth, because we are all in this together.  We are ALL leaders.  It is us forgetting that, and becoming lost in immobility, and "sheeple mode" that allows the shearers, butchers, hunters and scavengers to swarm us.  We can turn to a culture of hope and tolerance, but we don't.  WE THINK WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE THAT HOPE because our democratic process is short-circuited by corporate-think, has been for decades, and our secret police and military machine keep feeding back a "terror" message, and our own officials play up our apprehension in order to build up their own power base, and go about damaging the same people they damaged before who maintain a desire to blow us away.  This is meant to help?  Half of them probably do believe they are doing the right thing and are creating security; the other half know they aren't and that security is another word for fear.  But we do NOT fear.  We have HOPE, whether it is given to us or not.  We carve our hope out of the wall of lies with which we are presented and we spread it throughout the world.  We ARE a model of how things can work in any country, but we have the responsibility to MAKE it a model.  We have the responsibility NOT to make it a mandate.  We have the responsibility to be civilised even when dealing with the uncivilised and not to be dragged down to violence and animalism.  We have the responsibility to the world of which we are a part, to ourselves, and to the Earth to show what can be done.

It is our variety that makes us different and engaging.  It is our creativity and ingenuity that makes us strong.  There are a hundred ways to think about all of the above, but we ARE moving towards a better world when we stand up to what is wrong, and celebrate what is right, and when we all secure the freedom to think about it, and act for it as the equals we are--ALL of us.  That is the exploration we find in Rock and Roll, and we can live life in moments of joy while doing it.  We can DO what we dream!  We do have a long way to go if we expect to truly survive together and stop trampling all over each others' dreams, and we've learned minimal amounts of what there is to know about how we could be living on earth, because we learn and then forget, open our eyes and then close them, wake up and then drift back to sleep, but it is ok to dream and learn and to agitate for people to learn more.  It is ok to agitate to show we are dissatisfied or anxious, or to show that we ARE satisfied and happy in spite of everything with which we are faced, as long as we are working on it.  Rock music is us working through all of our problems--all of them.  Music gives us hope and comfort.  Above all else, it is a source of happiness and wonder.  Music is literally a guiding force in people's lives.

Beyond just being exciting and fantastic and fun, we have some of our most spiritually centred moments ever during live concerts.  In Philadelphia, September, 1984, as the British progressive rock band Yes played "And You And I" from the Close to The Edge album (1972).… I had a spiritual experience that typifies our connection with music at its best.  The song is literally fantastic and dream inducing, and comes from an era when art and fantasy were a huge sub-culture as an extension of fantasy fiction literature and visual arts genres, eastern and western philosophy, and the psychedelic and progressive rock-fusion era.  As I listened, my memory looped back through all of the times I had heard the song, both alone and among friends, in my bedroom, in the car, at parties, in the woods, and felt those amazing dream-like emotions again.  I remembered hundreds of great experiences tied to that song, each layered and laminated, one over the other, and then magnified exponentially in a rush by being in that theater with my friends and the very artists who had created the work, knowing that almost every one of the thousands of strangers who were there was feeling the same thing.  It gave us all a kinship as fans and as fellow earthlings living and experiencing that moment.  To look around was to see joy and the same emotions mirrored in every face.  If millions more fans could have been a part of it from around the world in simulcast, THEY would all have been feeling those emotions in a massive psychic tuning.  I imagined that the power of that performance was resonating out through the walls and across the earth through the subconsciousness of millions, and across the barriers of time and space on many different wavelengths.  It was extremely moving and a feeling I've had many times with many bands before and since, and in other situations where my spiritual self was reawakened and validated as part of the ALL of existence.  That song and that moment was particularly satisfying and memorable.  I once again became aware of the universal mind in all things in a completely benevolent forum, where truth, reality, and illusion fused in an instant into something infinitely more powerful than the sum of its parts.  Because we are symbol using creatures, it is suprising and wonderful when we can weld them like that, in a flash, in an arc of polarity, then transcend them, riding the waves into the infinite.

To experience transcendence proves we CAN see beyond what we take for granted.  In a world of SO many distracting symbols, and so many myriad ideologies and creeds which are co-opted by endless power struggles born out of ignorance, inequality and rote routines, and the binding chains of ancient glories, it is often only a process of aggregated, voluntary FOCUS and group mind that allows us to experience spirituality again RIGHT NOW, as the explorers of the moment.  There is no greater meaning in events than that.  Our ideologies have been wonderful and still are, but their absolute value is only manifest in the face of knowledge of the NOW as a link to every human idea and skill and its source in the nature and value of all things and every physical event that has ever occurred with every one to follow.  That is the beauty of our world, and that spiritual power is in everything, that we are able to tap into at any given time, not only by the "approved" methods.  Yet we can regroup and rechannel these events by understanding that THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN WHAT IT MEANS TO BE SPIRITUAL ourselves, in the past and in the future, and across cultures, and to remember that we ourselves who are alive today are the pinnacle of humanity, that spearpoint, just as it has been in any other time.  We are witness to the movement of ourselves through another era.  Each of us is the culmination of human life on earth, and every other creature alive is part of it with us.  There is nobody more or less important to the history of humanity than you, yourself.  You are the balancing point between history and eternity.  It is a great responsibility and we often fritter it away.  If we do, it is ok, that is our right and our journey is no less meaningful for affecting a smaller part of the world.  But we CAN achieve enlightenment solely through shared expression.  It is not owned by anyone.  It is owned by EVERYTHING, that is, all life and all matter.  It is as it has been forever. That's the essence of human spiritual oneness and enlightenment as a connection to every molecule in the universe.  Nobody owns that.  Stop trying to own that.  WE, and all living things, are part of everything.  That's the power of artistic freedom--the expression of our livelihood, in whatever form we choose.  Art, at its best, is symbolic of and symbiotic with centredness with existence (or it may be our expression of angst when we aren't), it is naturally spiritual, it is morally ours, as in EVERY creature, everyone, everything, whether we are sitting around a small fire or broadcasting an arena show to billions of receivers worldwide (and into the universe) via satellite.

"Music is my religion"  --James Marshall Hendrix

"If I told you what it takes to reach the highest high/You'd laugh and say, 'Nothing's that simple!'"… (THE WHO I'm Free, 1969)

Those of us who have lived through the era of Rock and Roll are tuned into waves of thought, electricity, and magic.  It has been a journey through what it means to be human, what it means to be alive (and sometimes what it means to die).  What we see in rock and roll is an impulsive willingness to open ourselves and our psyches to let emotions run in and out in creative free form, to NOT keep them bottled up or to put them towards some nefarious means, or to sell out to oppressive schemes for power just because our own demons and fears scare us into attacking and extorting others; to let those demons--cross-bred by our own youthful human strength and barely formed hopes and desires, mated with, or fighting with, the rules of society and religion and law and repression, whose modus operandi seems to gear back towards conflict because we can't seem to help but institutionalise tribal hate--out into the open in a venue where we can deal with them together, in an open forum, in an artistic way that makes us light up, makes us THINK, and discuss, and dream, and learn from each other, which ultimately WILL always be cathartic.  IT IS LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF WAR, yet we drag that ancient anchor on society around like a trophy.  In tapping into our true creative psyches instead we can find MYTHOS, LEGEND, SPIRITUALITY, DEMOCRACY, RELEASE, all accessible and right in front of us.  We can touch it, can hold it in our hands and hear it, love it, experience it with every sense we have and deep inside our heads.  It is OURS.  We can go home happy and reenergised, instead of when we go to war and people's lives are shattered and the blood of loving pets and children and brothers and sisters is spilled in the streets.  That's modern?  What ideology thinks that's a good thing or advanced?  Right.  Ancient.  Our ancient animal brains still think that is the height of modernism.  We live in the ancient past because we are frightened of the future.  We are frightened of losing control by strength and then we do--repeatedly--led into it by our own fear.  Hypocrisy, insanity is our reward.  We do have to fight, but we ARE moving forwards even as we are moving backwards in other regions.  We have not yet slowed the pendulum of imbalance, and it is reflected in our faces and in the psyches of our soldiers of war AND soldiers of peace.  It is a long engagement.  Perhaps this is another form of polarity, but our own electric personalities can influence everything else.  That, too, is polarity.

Art, as the spirit of EVERYTHING WE ARE working through us, reflects us in all our glory and all our pain, and unites us across spiritual and national and class and occupational and racial boundaries, and is not separate from anything else, or any other ideology.  If we are open-minded they ALL flow through us into what we create through our OWN lens and our OWN personality.  All of our ideologies DO NOT have to be the same.  This understanding is IMMEDIATE to the moment (although it sometimes takes a long time to learn) and beautiful, and we don't all have to like the same thing, there is variety, but we are united in the spirit of our natural creativity and expression.  It crosses our artificial borders and shows our connections to each other and to all aspects of our world.

"I was doing time in the universal mind/I was feeling fine/I was turning keys, I was setting people free/I was doing alright"… (THE DOORS Universal Mind, 1970)

Bands like The Grateful Dead became a nation unto themselves, a floating island of peace, unconditional love, and folk wisdom cruising across the landscape, a wandering spiritual center.  By comparison, no war has ever done more for change than just having a good attitude and outlook in the first place.  Those are the wars you never hear about because they never happened except as a conscious decision by people with the heart and bravery to just be good to one another instead, and to figure out how to maintain that good trip.  It is a conscious decision that remarkably quickly becomes a way of life.  Is that a waste?  Is that just "entertainment"?  It is cultural success.  WAR is failure.

Every war is a failure.  It is a breakdown of intelligent reasoning.  It is a failure of people to understand our shared humanity.  Every war is a failure of society.  If we instead spent as much effort drafting for peace, educating for peace, agreeing on peace, as we do for war, peace would win all day long and war could go back to hell where it comes from, be forever relegated to the hell of our twisted imaginations and "realities", be forever reduced to HISTORY where it belongs.

Music is the soundtrack to that different way of thinking.  Music is about togetherness and sharing.  It is cross-cultural.  It is an open forum using accessible and emotional language in an open society that works.  It works.  We share it.  Do we have that?  No, we have elitist legalese and militant inner circles, backed by banks and police and bombs and a ready supply of cannon fodder to use (us) if anyone gets out of line.  If you have any kind of idea for change to the hive-mind creating a large honey-comb guarded by bees, it must come through approved institutional channels in order that it can be properly discarded.  THAT'S what we have.  

That is why we have art.  We have our own channels, forever and ever, amen.  We will back it up with war if we have to.  Let's share it instead.  Let's smoke and drink tea.  That is taking a risk together and that draws us closer.  It doesn't have to become a habit.  It is risk and reward.

Is art and self-expression worth risking one's life for?  Hmmmmm...  The obvious, adult-stamped-and-approved answer is no, of course not, but like many adult-stamped-and-approved responses that's only half true.  The full truth is that many of us burn out or burn up in the fuel we use in the pursuit of the existentialism that we pour into our art.  We fucking suffer, and yes, it IS worth every second.  Sometimes death IS a side-effect of making art and telling the world what is and what should never be.  Look at how many rock and rollers have died.  But is there any true rock fan out there that doesn't want each and every one of those artists back?  Is it ever a necessity to die in the line of duty?  There is always some choice that someone could have made somewhere that would have been equally good for the art that didn't end in a funeral.  THAT'S the truth, and we all know it, but there are casualties, and always will be, as there are in any exploration for the greater good.  It is up to each of us to make the right decisions.  It is up to each of us to understand the amount of energy that we pour into what we do, and why we do it, why we ALL do it.  It is up to us to understand truth, not just "reality".

What rock and roll is to me is elements of sacrifice.  It is an element of giving up some amount of comfort for discovery and disclosure, an element of taking people to the edge of either beauty or darkness, often both, through the world of their imaginations; taking us to that point of not knowing what's coming next, and then, if we understand any of it, giving us exactly what we need, giving us a sense of epiphany, oneness, centredness, wholeness in the moment, with our species, and with our memories and our visions of the future.  Anticipatory and emotional, it strikes a deep chord in our decidedly tribal brains.  It's the thrill of spectacle, the deep satisfaction of a good driving rhythm, the jubilation of the search for meaning and spiritual sustenance.  It is togetherness, the hunt for the perfect creation for every kaleidoscopic mood, and celebrating together the rise of an awesome and beautiful beast, giving our thanks and submission, and then releasing its energy to recharge the group, the band, the audience and the world together.  Rock and roll is us facing our fears and hopes and dreams and either dominating them or celebrating them in reverence by power, finesse, and ritual without harm.  It is primal and human.  It strikes some joyous and soulful wonder in us, some release of energy that's cathartic.  It is ritualistic spirituality with as much power as in anything we've ever done.  We can celebrate our similarities together, rather than force our differences on one another.  

I don't know if Kurt Cobain ever worked through all of those things consciously.  Most bands just want to party and have a good time and let the art speak for itself, but I'm sure he did to some extent.  I'm sure he had a good grip on most of it.  You can't be out there performing and NOT pick up on the group vibe and glimpse the far-reaching ramifications.  That is why art is so important for our expression.  In some ways art says what we are thinking but can't say conversationally.  When people started RELYING on him to express what they were thinking I know it frightened him, irritated him, frustrated him.  He wanted to be a medium for the energy of our generation, he didn't want to be the handbook.  But much has been said about that elsewhere.  I know I looked up to Pete Townshend and The Who when I was a child, even though I was part of a new generation, and I know he struggled with the questions of idolisation and what fueled his own spirituality as well.  Their music spoke to me and for me ("Won't get fooled again...Who the fuck are you?").  I finally saw the band play in 1989, when I was twenty years old, and their power was undiminished even after so many highs and lows, even without my favourite drummer.  They played for three and a half hours and any reservations I had that they weren't still a force of nature were shattered.  They blew me away into tiny scintillations, back to where I had been when they were my favourite band at ten years old, and then pulled me back together again, building on all of the following years until I felt stronger than I had ever been by the end of the show.  And then when Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell and Anthony Kiedis and all their mates and so many others caught fire as the NEW Rock and Roll bands carried on in the nineties, with a surge of industry, popular support, and crazy/cool talent, I was right there cheering them on.

"I'm so ugly, but that's ok, 'cause so are you..."… (NIRVANA Lithium, 1991)

To see anyone burn out in the fires of artistic expression is always tragic.  Kurt nearly took everything I had with him when he died.  He almost took me with him.  That's how invested in music I was.  My new-found hope in humankind and joy at a new generation of Rock and Roll taking off was nearly wiped out by losing something so artful and rejuvenating so soon.  I know that that is the scenario that makes spirituality scary, but I had already just lost one of my childhood friends and bandmates to cancer a couple of years before, something that was by far more emotional, but yet there was something inexorable and natural about cancer, as hard it was, as much as it was a fight.  With Kurt's death I had to question whether burning out is inexorable too, if it's worth trying to fight, and whether I wanted to face the world either.  It floored me for a few bad, but thankfully short months.  Even though I was clean and sober I didn't have the tools ready to deal with it.  I was shattered by all of the fans who were heartbroken.  It reminded me of John Lennon's death and others, and it made me question the whole business at a time when I was already questioning things.  I always question.  That is how one arrives at truth.  I don't think Kurt C. was a god.  I don't agree with everything he thought, just as I don't agree with everything Townshend thinks or says, or anyone, really, but they were/are honest about what they see, and have had perspectives and attitudes that I appreciate.  They were/are Rock Stars, heroes.  Humanly frail, yet towering in strength, they were what it is to be superhuman.  It is important to look at the world from a million different perspectives or all you will ever see is facade.  I find kindred spirits in people who want to share that, and to rock and roll, and people who are leaders in that endeavour, however known or unknown.

I didn't have all of the wisdom and confidence in everything I've written here then, just as he didn't.  I don't have answers for everything except that we all share responsibility for the way we are, and life is far deeper a meaningful event that most of us regularly think about, probably to our discredit, possibly to our destruction.  We are ever too young to know everything, to learn everything, that is all.  But I understand it when people die.  I certainly do.  We don't get them back, but their life echoes, it ripples.  Life has meaning.

"Write some words, make them rhyme/Thesis or storyline/Set the mood, something new/Is it me, or my attitude?/If you want to put off an image/The extremes, the extremes/Act it out/Practicing/Perfecting/Pressuring/Onto me/I will wade in the fire/To explain your asylum/Idle times, analyzing/We'll compare all our sightings..." (NIRVANA If You Must, 1988)

"It's just sad to think what the state of Rock and Roll would be in twenty years from now.  It just seems like when Rock and Roll is dead, the whole world is gonna explode, y'know?  And it's already so rehashed and plagiarized that it's barely alive now...  It's disgusting, I mean, kids don't really even CARE about Rock 'n' Roll as much as they used to, as the other generations have.  It's already turned into nothing more than a fashion statement and an identity for kids to use as a tool for them to fuck, and to have a social life."  --Kurt Cobain, 1994

"Would you like to hear my voice/Sprinkled with emotion/Invented at your birth?/I can't see the end of me/My whole expanse I cannot see/I formulate infinity/Stored deep inside me"… (NIRVANA [Meat Puppet's] Oh Me, 1993)

Another twenty years on and rock music is fragmented by an overabundance of micro-genres, micro media sources and non-cohesive technologies and forums.  If people want to pidgeonhole or spread themselves so thin, go for it, but the music industry itself is playing the same "wait and see" game it did by the late eighties, when the dearth of good new modern mainstream rock was like a dry-brush mountainside waiting for a spark.  There was still the amazing old guard carrying on which got us through, but the raft of propped up pop-up performers, newly manufactured stars, and "sure things" we saw then in popular music were, just as they are now, wearing out their welcome.  Fluff will only take you so far.  The really good bands are the ones who aim to BLOW PEOPLE'S MINDS and then do.  That's what finally poured out of our speakers again in the early nineties--and I would point out that we still had hi-fi systems that would blow peoples' minds as well.

There are certainly interesting sparks going on in music's underground, and here and there in the mainline mainstream today, online and around town, and lots of great independent talent (don't just sit there, go and support them!), but it still often seems genre-based and divided.  It would be amazing to see somebody fuse genre powerfully back into rock and roll again, and remember what it means to channel greatness and sweep the field aside with some finessed power chords, feedback, and good, insightful lyrics, with a driving beat using REAL drums and guitars, a good rhythm, and some blues, but also catch everyone up behind them as surfers on the next great wave.  It's time for that again.  Who knows who will be the next great band to take off and bring a dozen others, then hundreds with them?  It needs to be a group effort and a groundswell, though.  There is a movement already forming again, because the "reality" of life on earth has started to break away from truth again.  A lot of people have to be involved, from club owners recognising and supporting innovative bands and adjusting to cater to them and their fans, encouraging more to join the good times, to managers and record companies picking up the ball instead of twiddling their thumbs.  If radio would go back to free-form and trust the DJs to find and bring us the music that's hot again, and let US tell THEM what's hot as well, not be corporate-think advertising lap-dogs, generating computerised mindlessness, bullshit and repetition.  A new art collective which accepts donations and helps artists connect with their muse and to new distribution streams would kick-start more people as well, and if people would pay for copies of albums to support the artists and spread the word with actual speakers, not invisible earbuds, we could get the ship righted again.  Is that too much to ask?  She is worth saving.  Human expression is not only a pleasant pastime, it is vital to our existence.

I barely scratched the surface here.  There are thousands more amazing bands.  There are a thousand more reasons to listen to them rather than the people who think they are in charge.  I know new things are in the works.  I am sure some true artists are pouring their hearts into it, and when it all comes together again in a wave it will be both dangerous and divine.

No matter in what context, we remain free to dream, and to share our dreams.  They are the most powerful and fulfilling thing in the world, and we should give up our skeletons before we give up that human right.

"Then I'll get on my knees and pray/We don't get fooled again!"… (THE WHO, Won't Get Fooled Again, 1971)

"When I was an alien/Cultures weren't opinions/Gotta find a way/A better way/When I'm there"… (NIRVANA Territorial Pissings, 1991)

--J. Shidler  April to November, 2013

Some things I found in my research:

I found this interview with Pete Townshend particularly interesting as it speaks to some of those joys and dangers of Rock and Roll and being onstage and some of the same issues Kurt dealt with later:…  pt. 1/4…  pt. 2/4…  pt. 3/4…  pt. 4/4

Nirvana discuss their album In Utero:…

Auto...…  (THE WHO 5:15, 1973)

Capitalism vs. Socialism (found AFTER I wrote this essay)…

An older, even more cerebral Pete:…  Psychoderelict

This is the fantastic Sirius XM Nevermind 20th Anniversary Town Hall Meeting with Dave Grohl, Krist Noveselic, and Butch Vig, hosted by Jon Stewart:…

Keep on Rockin'…  (PEARL JAM [Neil Young's] Keep on Rocking in The Free World, 1992)

"And it's whispered that soon/If we all call the tune/Then the piper will lead us to reason/And a new day will dawn/For those who stand long/And the forests will echo with laughter" (LED ZEPPELIN Stairway to Heaven, 1971)

This is The Theater of The Generation X.  We are broadcasting on all stations.  This is a new world created as you read these words.  I promise they are true.

'Magic Bus' was released in late July in the States.  It didn't do very well at first, but would later become the most requested song at our live shows, along with John's 'Boris the Spider'.  In Detroit I met up again with my old art-school buddy Tom Wright, who now managed the Grande Ballroom there.  He lived in the old skating rink, washed his grey sweatshirts in the toilet sink, ate tuna out of the can and lent us roller skates so we could zoom around the ballroom floor.
We played several shows with The Troggs, whose hit single 'Wild Thing' had been borrowed by Jimi Hendrix.  A show with The Doors marked the first time I'd met Jim Morrison, who was respectful, but very drunk.  During The Doors' show a girl ran on stage and tried to touch Jim's face.  He was startled and turned suddenly; two bouncers misinterpreted his action and threw the girl into the barrier, cutting her face quite badly.  Jim hauled her back out again and she was taken backstage, where I was among those who comforted her.  The incident became the inspiration for my song for Tommy, called 'Sally Simpson'
--Pete Townshend, Who I Am

There once was a note, pure and easy
Playing so free, like a breath rippling by
The note is eternal, I hear it, it sees me
Forever we blend and forever we die

I listened and I heard music in a word
And words when you played your guitar
The noise that I was hearing was a million people cheering
And a child flew past me riding in a star

As people assemble
Civilization is trying to find a new way to die
But killing is really merely scene changing
All men are bored with other men's lies

I listened and I heard music in a word
And words when you played your guitar
The noise that I was hearing was a million people cheering
And a child flew past me riding in a star

Gas on a hillside, oil in the teacup
Watch all the chords of life lose their joy
Distortion becomes somehow pure in its wildness
The note that began all can also destroy

We all know success when we all find our own dreams
And our love is enough to knock down any walls
And the future's been seen as men try to realise
The simple secret of the note in us us all

I listened and I heard music in a word
And words when you played your guitar
The noise that I was hearing was a million people cheering
And a child flew past me riding in a star

Today is the day when sound curdles mountains
Blowing and flowing each man in its way
Destroying itself in the end with vibration
There's nothing on earth its challenge can take

Except in one note, pure and easy
Playing so free, like a breath rippling by
There once was a note, listen
There once was a note, listen

(THE WHO Pure And Easy, 1971)

There is already more than enough anger in the world.  Learn to channel it into something productive.  --JES


Astral Traveller
Artist | Professional | Varied
United States
Born in Boston, Massachusetts. Moved to Delaware at 6 months. Graduated University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Still a bachelor.
Favourite music is Rock, Folk, Jazz. Favourite literature is Fantasy/Science fiction. Movie buff. Shaman, friend of elves. Urban/rural/aquatic/wild.

The Kids Are Alright

Highlighting hope and dismay in the modern world.

The Kids Are AlrightI'm going back to Rock and Roll.  
I've never been away really, but as I struggle with my own rebirth as a full-grown adult (I am 44 in 2013), and as I struggle with the way the world is changing, I am deciding to what extent my consciousness is maturing, and whether to "put away childish things", or at least which ones.  Rock and Roll is staying on the list of current events because it is as much a part of who I am as anything.  I can't disengage; it would be like removing my skeleton.  I don't have to fold it up and put it away in a drawer in order to be able to raise responsible kids or care for the elderly, but I do influence enough people that I have to come to terms with what Rock music IS, and whether it is a danger or a divinity.
It is both.
In a stellar example, I can't help seeing shades of The Who in what Nirvana was doing in the late eighties/early nineties.  Not to compare them directly or with intricacy, if you're a fan you've maybe already done t
The Kids Are Alright 2Where are those who speak out against blind faith and corruption?  Out of sight, and out of mind--hassled and detained on technicalities and infractions, led away to the pens to be reeducated about bullshit, or kicked out on the streets.  Those who don't want to play the game are not as well respected as those who use flashy domination and ladder climbing as an ideal, those who insinuate themselves into power and "society", by changing their stripes to match the herd's, but EVERYONE develops a skill that gives them an edge.  We are all cutting-edge in some way--all of us are.  We are all inherently skilled and creative.   It is part of human nature.  It is a basic aspect of life that we must compete in some way or join a religious retreat.  No one wants to identify as "poor" because we are still so rich in spirit and talents, but there is a flood of exodus from the upper-crust parties, even as wealth explodes for a tiny percentage of that thinning, in The Kids Are Alright 3Meanwhile, the secret machinations behind the scenes of "democracy" are at work as if The Cold War never ended.  We sell arms to tribesmen, then double-cross them and watch our towers fall.  "How dare they attack our Empire!", we wonder, idiotically.  Our obvious inattention to realistic outcomes is staggering, and now our countries stagger themselves, like punch-drunk prize-fighters, because we forgot basic maths, economics, human rights, and moral philosophy all at the same time!  No, terror is not credible, it is disgusting, but there IS a twisted logic behind it.  We reap what we sow.  And whereas our official policy used to be that "We will not treat with terrorists."  We always DID behind the scenes.  We do it openly now.  The CIA is now, according to senator John McCain, in Syria training rebels, some of whom have posted videos of beheadings and lining up those heads of their conquests on bookshelves as trophies.  This is the lev The Kids Are Alright 4Does ANY of that legal, or business, or political mumbo-jumbo REALLY represent us, The American People, and Peoples around the world?  Of course not.  It never has.  It represents the one percent of leaders who CANNOT dig their way to the surface of their own bullshit-spewing machine into the light of day again, plus whoever they can dupe into unwavering loyalty no matter what nonsense they pull.  That is NOT who we are!  In EVERY culture of the world, the power brokers are LUCKY, LUCKY, if they represent even a fraction of the general population.  One reason is because they promise us everything we ask for when running for office and then deliver a fraction of that, or some ill-gotten commodity to placate us, some of which is helpful, and some of which only delays the bite we feel when our systems break down because they were playing games, not leading us to our OWN goals.  We elect an idealised image, and they immediately begin to act counter to wha The Kids Are Alright 5In our search through the world's craziness and intelligence, in our journeys and pilgrimages, we each may come to COMBINE our wisdoms from around the world, and be a HUMAN tribe, not hold desperately onto our own methods in the face of global knowledge and reason.  It is ok to have an identity, a tribal history and love, but does it have to be exclusive?  Not in America, and look at all of the corporations and governments still trying to insert themselves and CONTROL the greatest sources of global knowledge ever to come along: world universities, the internet, religions.  Look at them SURVIELLING AND OPPRESSING and charging higher and higher FEES to their own people as a means of control, mimicking each other in a hypocritical bid to NOT be like the other guy, when they mostly end up being EXACTLY like each other.  We all end up exactly alike using nearly the same tactics, only to different degrees.   We CHOOSE to live by the law.  Our will CANNOT be cont The Kids Are Alright 6Art and education tells us the truth about the world.  THAT is what music does, and especially Rock and Roll: it helps us to push back the encroachment of flawed ideals long enough for us to study them and to reform our attitudes into something stronger, something better, something truthful, something priceless.  Are there casualties?  There are.  Any time we push through the doors of consciousness there are times when we push too far, or are ourselves pushed too far and over a cliff, or thugs are sent out to beat us down.  The outriders and scouts sometimes don't come back; the prophets are consumed in the repressions of their damning society and their era, always inherently geared towards backlash; the shamans go on their vision quests and one day don't return (maybe because no one listened anyway, or didn't comprehend), and we are left to close ranks and find more volunteers.  The people are caught between joining those wanting change and following lead


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thank you for favs.
vikingjon 15 hours ago  Professional General Artist
:)  Very welcome.
Thanks kindly, Jon :icondullvivid:
vikingjon 15 hours ago  Professional General Artist
You're very welcome, Richard. :)
Thanks for the favourite (:
- bee
vikingjon 16 hours ago  Professional General Artist
Very welcome, Bee! :D
Thank you so kindly for the faves! :heart:
vikingjon 16 hours ago  Professional General Artist
:)  My pleasure.
thanks for the :+fav:s
vikingjon Apr 17, 2014  Professional General Artist
Very welcome. :)
thx for the fave <3
vikingjon Apr 17, 2014  Professional General Artist
You're quite welcome! :)
LillianEvill Apr 15, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you so much for the fav! :) (Smile)
vikingjon Apr 16, 2014  Professional General Artist
You are welcome! :)
Mskoll Apr 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you liked my photos!
Thanx for the favs :D
vikingjon Apr 15, 2014  Professional General Artist
You are most welcome.  Great work! :)
Hermetic-Wings Apr 14, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you so much for your great support my friend; I apprecaşte it a lot :D
vikingjon Apr 15, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thank you, Ayhan, and I very much appreciate your  support as well! :highfive: :)
Hermetic-Wings 4 days ago  Hobbyist Photographer
So kind of you :manhug:
OllyHymnia Apr 13, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks for the :+fav: on "Waiting"! :D
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