"All the best songs have already been written."
That's the tune that I constantly hear from my 45- to 70-year-old friends. They lament that there is no good rock music today, and they miss the golden era from 1965 to 1985.
As a 53-year-old who grew up listening to classic rock albums and radio stations and going to many concerts, I can attest that rock is alive, even though it's not the dominant genre anymore.
The Woodstock generation needs to open its minds and start listening to today's artists.
Festivities marking the 45th anniversary of Woodstock have paid homage to that era's rock legends: the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Sly & the Family Stone, the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
But take note next week, when the MTV Video Music Awards highlight the changes in the popular music landscape. Of the 16 award categories, only one is dedicated to best rock artist. The majority of nominees are rap, R&B, country, hip-hop, and pop artists like Beyonce, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, Eminem, and Katy Perry. At the VMAs as well as the Grammys, live performances by rock musicians are now in the minority.
Diversity in genres is the current trend, with rock taking a backseat to other, more popular genres. MusicWeek reported that the percentage of rock songs in the top 100 singles chart fell from 13 percent in 2009 to only 3 percent a year later, trailing hip-hop/R&B at 47 percent, pop at 40 percent, and dance at 10 percent. Last year, Billboard's Year-End Hot 100 list of artists with the most Top 10 songs featured Drake, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Eminem, One Direction, and Rihanna. The only rock bands mentioned were Imagine Dragons and Maroon 5.
But old-time rock-and-rollers looking for the talented artists of today shouldn't despair. Open your minds, venture into this century, and you'll be surprised at the number of acts out there, including Coldplay, Cage the Elephant, the Black Keys, fun, Jack Johnson, Muse, Foo Fighters, Counting Crows, Bastille, Panic! at the Disco, Of Monsters and Men, Death Cab for Cutie, 30 Seconds to Mars, the Fray, Fitz and the Tantrums, Green Day, Jimmy Eat World, Kings of Leon, the Lumineers, Weezer, and Young the Giant. I could easily name dozens more.
These and other artists can be found on local alternative radio stations, or are featured on Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, and Saturday Night Live. Get suggestions from your kids and grandkids and have them create playlists for you. You don't have to crowd-surf in a mosh pit. That might aggravate your bad back. Just try sampling some CDs or songs from today's artists.
It's common to find kids and millennials who love the classic rockers. If they can listen to the old stuff, surely the old people can find new stuff to listen to and enjoy.
By all means, celebrate Woodstock and the golden age of music in your golden years. But stop living under your rock.
This article was first published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, www.philly.com
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