I’ve gone from seeing a little tabloid-size piece of cardboard tacked up in the locker room of my first high school for this album to being halfway to 50, both shocked at how quickly the time went by and incredibly touched and moved at how thoroughly this music has been embraced by succeeding generations.
Not the Comic-Book-Guy art-rock junk that went before, that snooty, distant (and let’s face it — misogynist) stuff that was rock’s answer to the weird atonal art-classical that’s been so completely rejected after having rejected its audience first. Not the Politically Relevant Protest Songs that went before that, understandable only within the narrow historical context in which they were created (like all that unpleasant, ugly, cacophonic stuff that was a response to World War 1). Not the smash-your-guitar-on-stage-before-choking-on-vomit nonsense that confused being an Artiste with dying a preventable, tragicomic, preposterous death from a heroin overdose at 27.
This. Music that was music, that concentrated on telling a basic, timeless human story that will always be relevant, in a melodically rich, technically rigorous way. Stuff that the Art Rock Crowd disdained. Stuff that my generation was laughed at for loving by the people who came before — people who had better like the taste of crow, because unless they manage to paint themselves out of the critical corner in which they’ve lived for the past 30 years, they’re going to be dining on it a lot from now on.
I’m seeing youngsters who haven’t even passed completely through puberty falling in love with this stuff that we loved first. I’m seeing youngsters watching old concert footage with the same expression of amazement that the kids in school wore who were lucky enough to be able to see them live, that stunned look that said, “Wow. Perry really sounds like that.” I’m seeing kids with secondhand Strats from eBay woodshedding Schon’s work like violinists do Paganini. I myself continue to find incredible inspiration in Jonathan Cain in every way, and in his predecessor Gregg Rolie as a Baroque stylist that I can never hope to equal.
I’m even seeing 13 year old girls wearing that same facial expression I must have worn at the same age, as if every brain cell in their head went on vacation at the same time, because they’ve seen Steve Perry on stage and can’t fathom anything else ever being so beautiful, beautiful enough to break your heart, wedged in that thin crevice between “gawky” and “elegant” where one also finds 17 year old supermodels and Russian wolfhounds.
People love this music. Everyone. (Those who don’t are either beginning the arduous verbal process of logicking themselves out of the Gordian knot they created or are just very, very quiet.)
This music meant so much to my generation. We love it and are possessive of it and protective of it like a 10lb stray cat of her litter. It is timeless, rich, rigorous, beautiful, complex, and entirely free of irony. I can’t communicate how it feels to see it moving proudly and regally into Velveteen Rabbit territory.
That Ebm thing I’ve been working on? Started with “Who’s Crying Now,” because I wanted to try something in a minor key that didn’t raise the seventh to get a V7 and instead used v7 to resolve. (I’m not as good as Cain. I raised it in the end. Someday … )
Our music is the Velveteen Rabbit. My music. You better believe it.