We begin this episode with a reading from Ecclesiastes, chapter three, verses 1-3. Ish.
To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to rock, a time to dance, a time to headbang, a time to chill.
Okay, I may have made up that last bit. But I think you get my drift.
The universe moves in cycles. Things are created, build up, peak, and then fade away. But they don’t necessarily die in an entropic ignominy. They enter some kind of statis until something triggers a reawakening. And if the conditions are right, the whole process repeats again. And maybe again. And again after that.
Let me give you an example. In the late 1950s, all the cool kids were into folk music. Stuff that was a generation or two old suddenly became the thing all the hipsters were listening to. This eventually translated into a big boom for modern folk music: The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Bobt Dylan.
Around the same time in the UK, the big thing was known as Trad Jazz. English hipsters unimpressed with this new rock’n’roll thing decided that 50-year-old traditional jazz was where it was at. Old-school Dixieland jazz from New Orleans experienced a rebirth followed by the rise of artists like Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, and Monty Sunshine. But that all died out by 1965 and hasn’t come back since.
In 1973, 50s rock’n’roll made a comeback, manifesting in movies like American Graffiti, TV shows like Happy Days, new life in groups like Sha Na Na, and Elton John singing songs like “Crocodile Rock.”
Alt-rock has been around long enough so that it’s seen its own internal revivals, sounds from alternative music history that have been rediscovered and advanced by new generations of fans.
Even the punk rock of the middle 70s was a revival of sorts. At its heart, that punk was a back-to-basics form of rock’n’roll but done with speed and a sneer. And that’s where we’ll start. This is alt-rock revival, chapter one.
Songs heard on this show:
- Ramones, Blitzkrieg Bop
- The Clash, Brand New Cadillac
- Sex Pistols, I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone
- Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit
- Green Day, Longview
- Bad Religion, Stranger Than Fiction
- Rancid, Salvation
- NOFX, Don’t Call Me White
- Offspring, Come Out and Play
- Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK (Live)
Here’s Eric Wilhite’s playlist.
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