Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Last Great American Rock Band?

Last night Inky and I watched the documentary "Back and Forth" about the Foo Fighters. First things first, I love a good Rock-doc and this one was very good. You don't necessarily have to like the band to like the movie, but you don't have to love them either. I just find the life of a band, with all its infighting, drug use and comings and goings, to be very fertile ground for a compelling story. And when the subject is one of your favorite bands, it makes for a very enjoyable couple of hours.

The Foo's are a band that was born and took it's first fledgling steps toward a long and accomplished career completely on my watch. Other bands have come and gone since they formed when I was in college but few if any have enjoyed the staying power of Dave and the boys. I think enjoyed is the most important word in that sentence because it has always been obvious to anyone watching that Dave Grohl likes being a rock star. Sadly for many of my friends in high school, one of his old band mates didn't have the same disposition and ended up eating the business end of a shotgun seventeen years ago.

So Dave had to come out from behind the drums and front his own band, and I think rock music is better off for it. They might not have U2's status as a band crusading to make the world a better place but they have all the chops of an all time great. Watching the doc you realize just how many great songs they have churned out over the last sixteen years. When they burst on the scene there were other "big bands" but that is a phenomenon that is sadly lacking in our world today. The big acts are all solo, R&B, Rap or pop and the music industry is worse for it.

Sure, there are great little rock bands that have taken advantage of the changes in the process of recording and disseminating music. Many of them are great in their own right, but the very mechanism that allows them to reach a small audience with less record company guidance also tends to keep them tethered to that same small audience. In an iTunes world it has become far more important for the big acts to strike quickly with as many cross-promotions and ad placements as possible. Rock bands make records, Lady Gaga makes a collection of ring tone ready singles.

Thank god the Foo's keep doing it and today they release their seventh album: "Wasting Light" to a world that really needs to be rocked. I've got my fingers crossed that it is just what the doctor ordered.
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