There's a line like that in Almost Famous. That like sometime around 1973 Rock and Roll ceased being what it was and became something else. I was thinking about that while Mrs. TANBI and I were at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past weekend. I put it in my head to try to see if I could identify a moment. For a minute I think it might have been The Wall. I had that thought because in an exhibit, Roger Waters says that The Wall was about rebelling against what they had become and that the transformation had been about once having been a band in a room with an audience and then eventually becoming a band on a stage in a stadium and being something completely different to the fans. That would have been 1979 - in some ways that's too recent.
Then last night I was watching Billie Bob Thorton on Bill Maher and he said essentially the same thing. I believe he said 1974 and framed it like "What act that started after 1974 do you honestly think will be known 100 years from now?" He said he'd give REM and U2, but that was really it in his mind. Apparently the comeback is usually Springsteen or The Police, but that they actually predate the 1974 cutoff.
So I did some searches, not because I couldn't think of anyone but more because I needed to verify the dates; here's 10 acts in no particular order:
- The Clash
- The Pretenders
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Indigo Girls
- Bon Jovi
The ten above are from a list of about 30 I came up with before I started to believe that if I tried to put down anything that smelled close to comprehensive that I would inevitably get pinged for leaving acts off. The sites I was looking at were real thin in Rap and Hip Hop and I think some of those acts really have a place in this discussion.
So maybe there will be gourps with real staying power who dropped after 1974. Does that mean there isn't still that difference in... something? When I first started to think about looking for the groups I figured that even if there were acts that made the "staying power" test that there might still be some taint of commercialization in the recent bands that wasn't there before. But I have to say even with Madonna and Bon Jovi it doesn't appear to be an overwhelming triumph of marketing over music (and that's without listing oh, say, Elvis Costello, Lenny Kravitz... Phish maybe).
Maybe it really is more like this: Any band that was playing music before you became an adult is classic, and anything from after is shit. That would kinda work for the character in the movie, and Thorton would have been 18 in (wait for it) 1974.