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A Rock Revolution!

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Today is the day when many Americans step outside their homes to check out the grill, tell jokes about how we thrashed the limeys, and wave flammable flags around while setting off fireworks. While actually setting the flag on fire is probably more of an expression of freedom and appreciating this country than simply waving it around, that’s neither here nor there! No, when this time comes around, music critics and historians mention amazing songs that altered music somehow or that sang the praises of this fine country; its revolution and history.

So in that tradition, I am going to list six songs that I think have helped revolutionize music. I don’t necessarily like all of these songs, but I do think that they were sort of mini-Declarations of Independence. Songs that pushed boundaries and blazed trails.

Starting off, where would we be without the classic ’60s protest song? There was once a time when you were more likely to hear a freshly written protest song than you were to take a shower! Amazing, huh? The correlation between showering and protest music is pretty odd, but it seems that the more protest music you listen to, the less you shower.

Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth seems to epitomize the classic ’60s protest song. It seems to be used in many movies whose names I can’t think of whenever said movies mention the ’60s or douchebags who don’t bathe. All that said, the song is actually pretty catchy!

The Sex Pistols were a lot of things. Mainly, they were tools. But with the song Bodies they really started exploring a lot of uncharted territory. Singing about abortion? Especially during the time when the song was recorded, graphic songs about abortion were not the norm — and they still aren’t. One of the few other songs about abortion I can think of off the top of my head is something like Ben Folds Five’s Brick. It’s a touchy issue, and the Pistols really tread new territory with it. So check one off in the revolutionary box.

Coming off of the generation of excess (ie, some of our parents and some of our grandparents) known as the baby boomers, musicians found themselves annoyed and somewhat provoked by the pressure to drink, do drugs, and engage in other forms of self-destruction. Songs like Straight Edge sparked, MacKaye claims unintentionally, a whole movement bent on refraining from conquest sex, drugs, and alcohol. The song itself isn’t even a minute long, but it managed to spark an entire movement and counter-movement in punk scenes across the country. I would say it’s pretty revolutionary.

Kill Yr Idols. Wow. This song is intense. It sort of stems from the No Wave movement in the northeast during the late ’70s and early ’80s because of guys like Glenn Branca, DNA, and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. Whether or not the song is true No Wave — I’m not sure that really matters — it pushed Sonic Youth’s limits further than they would ever go. Without Sonic Youth, much of the ’80s underground alternative scene would not exist, so I would credit their early work, like Kill Yr Idols, with inspiring a large generation of kids to go out and make music. The song is nothing like anything offDaydream Nation (which I constantly hear called their magnum opus, though I’m not sure I agree), but it sort of lays everything down and shoves SY’s avant-garde styling in your face. They’ve mellowed over the years, clearly, but I don’t think they would have gone in the direction if they did if not for Confusion is Sex / Kill Yr Idols.

I couldn’t find any Hüsker Dü songs off of their famous LP Zen Arcade (a bold statement in hardcore and a large indicator of what was to come with emo), but I think that pretty much all of their material was revolutionary within the hardcore scene and punk in general. I even found a Green Day cover of a Hüsker Dü song on Youtube, but, alas, it was on MTV and we all know how I feel about Viacom now!

Finally, what sort of Kevin Shields fanboy would I be without including some My Bloody Valentine here? Instead of picking a track off of Loveless, though, I’m going to go with You Made Me Realise. Realise is the song they seem to be closing their shows with now. Performing a 20 minute live version of the song that, even on a live recording, totally blows my mind. How incredibly epic! My Bloody Valentine is an absolutely brilliant studio band. I can think of few other bands that rival the production quality and inventiveness of the band when it comes to studio tweaking and development of their tunes. You Made Me Realise is a fucking loud song that is perfect for destroying ears. At their shows in England, they had taken to handing out free ear plugs for anyone who attended the show — if only Warped Tour would do the same thing, but with condoms.

So there we are. Six songs that I think define generations, movements, scenes, and music. What do you guys think? What songs are revolutionary to you? What do you think is revolutionary music in general — personal feelings aside?

I’m going to close with Boris. They’re not ultra revolutionary, but I think the video I’m about to post possesses more rock than the human mind can handle:


3 Responses

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  1. Word man, good list.

    Jacob Z

    July 5, 2008 at 10:26 am

  2. w00t



    July 5, 2008 at 10:48 am

  3. I also want to have babies with Wata haha.


    July 5, 2008 at 10:49 am

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