The way I remember music is odd. From the time I was a baby crawling around the house where I spent my first two years or so of life, I began to absorb music. That was back in 1988. There was always something going on with music then - on the radio, and on the television with MTV and VH1. My parents loved music, having grown up essentially with the birth of rock and roll music. My older sister and I inherited that love of rock music, and grew up through some respectfully interesting times for the medium.
I didn't get to experience all of the 80's like a lot of you did, but my sister was there for most of that. When I came along, I feel like we entered this sort of transitional period between the 80's and 90's. Music continued to change and evolve, but it was as though holdovers from the 80's stuck around as the 90's began to happen. I seem to remember Prince having a big presence, and also other pop and rock artists such as Madonna and Phil Collins. I remember my mom telling me I really liked Roxette when I was a baby.
By the time 1990 rolled around, music had mellowed a bit, as things transitioned. I think people wanted a break after the craziness of the 80's, they wanted calming sounds. Paula Abdul was popular for a while, and I remember hearing a lot of Richard Marx. Don Henley kept right on making hits. Phil Collins was still around. ...But the hair-bands like Def Leppard, Poison and Whitesnake started to vanish. And punk pretty much breathed its last breath. And then, something happened.
Rock music, rebooted. Sure, the wild 80's were over. But the heavy 90's kept rock relevant. I know not everyone will agree with me, but I think the 90's were really a great time for rock. Aerosmith made a bit of a comeback, Guns N' Roses headlined for quite some time, U2 kept making music, and many new rock bands came on the scene like the Stone Temple Pilots, Radiohead, and the Smashing Pumpkins. Rock came back with attitude, and came back with a renewed sense of style since the 80's.
As the late 90's passed, rock became less common. Music networks started switching back to pop, in a big way. That's when Britney Spears came on the scene, and Backstreet Boys. This, coupled with the increase in the popularity of rap and hip-hop in the 90's, made a huge dent in the rock scene. If you ask me, a big problem from the beginning was that rock never had its own 'place', rap never had its own 'place', pop never had its own 'place'. Country did have its own place. (Though nowadays, it has also been penetrated by pop that is on the fence.) It appears that, to some extent, rock music became smothered by other forms of music.
In the early 2000's, a decade or so ago, I remember I had trouble finding new rock music. Even then it could be hard to find. As it turned out, rock music was very much still around - I just didn't look hard enough, and I didn't notice a lot of it until years after the fact. I also spent a lot of that time catching up on music I had missed out on, discovering music from as far back as the 50's that I realized I liked. It's a practice that continues to this very day. Perhaps the simple fact of the matter is, you can't notice rock until after it has been around for a while, weaseling its way into your consciousness.
The 2000's had their fair share of good rock. Actually there was quite a bit of good rock being made then, it just became a lot harder to classify, as the descriptors of rock music became more specific. This is another problem plaguing rock music - there are so many damn different kinds now. There's some classified as pop-rock. Glam rock. Grunge rock. Psychadelic rock. Soft rock. Hard rock. Folk rock. Garage rock. Metal rock. Southern rock. Goth rock. Emo rock. Alternative rock. Punk rock... Whatever happened to just, "Rock"? Division hurts the greater purpose, it would seem. It also hurts things when you have people criticizing a kind of rock music they don't like, like grunge or pop rock. It's as futile as teammates on the same team beating the shit out of each other during a practice game.
Here we are in the 2010's, nearly halfway through... And I think it's gotten more hopeless than ever to find rock music. Of course I felt that way 10 years ago, but then realized there were artists like Incubus still making good music, and artists like the Velvet Revolver, and Radiohead was still around in full force, Breaking Benjamin had some good ones, and a lot of people liked the stuff Jack White was doing. There were lots of one-and-two-hit wonders over those years. Rock didn't die in the 2000's. Maybe it's not dead now? Maybe, I just have to find it again.
I've gone back into that mode where I discover good music that already exists. In some cases I find good music that I forgot all about over the years. Other times I'll discover a song I never knew existed, but it sounds great. In my case, I've been spending time listening to a lot of STP and Velvet Revolver lately. Guess I've been in a Scott Weiland mood again. But it's amazing how much good music both of those bands put out - the hits, as well as those lesser-known songs on full albums. I discovered some songs I didn't know of, and found one or two I'd heard before but never even realized it was by them. It makes things feel very full-circle.
Another reason why good rock music is hard to find, which an Internet article I read helped me realize, is that there are so many options out there nowadays with the Internet and ITunes, it's harder to become exposed to a band and their full album. On the one hand it enables people to hear more music from different artists, but on the other hand people don't have as much appreciation for the artists and their full bodies of work, and the themes and depth of their albums.
Music became very throw-away at one point, it became expendable. People are consumers, they constantly want new music to consume. So 'they' give us new music frequently, popular new music, and we make every new song that comes along popular for one hot minute before we get sick of it and move on to the next song. 10 years from now people probably won't be talking about many of the songs of today. 20 years from now, they probably won't even remember a lot of them. But, hopefully, people will still remember fantastic musicians who have endured since my parents' time.
It makes me feel a little better knowing that rock music didn't die off before I was born, back in my parents' heyday. A lot of people thought rock died in the early 70's, and then some again in the 80's.... And again in the 90's! And so on, so forth... Truth is, it didn't. And I'm sure rock will still be around in some form or another for many years to come.
If rock really did die, I'm not sure what I'd do. I'm not sure I'd really want to live in a world where there is no rock and roll. That would suck. And I don't think I'll ever understand people who grew up and never loved rock like I do. But maybe they can't understand why I'm not over the moon for country, or gaga for rap, or loopy for pop. We can't all like the same stuff I guess.
For now, I'll continue scoping out the gems of yesteryear. There's a ton of great music to be found in the past. But hopefully, there will be some in the future, too.