Aug 152008

It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through the 2008 Summer Olympics and I have not posted my thoughts on Olympic Rock. Some of you may be familiar with this concept: it’s long been my belief that there are certain genres of music that are best judged by the musicians’ ability to hit certain standards, they way gymnasts and divers are scored, for instance. Established forms of Olympic music on which we might agree include rock cover bands as well as their predecessors, Classical music cover bands. In the case of a KISS cover band, for instance, the musicians are judged according to their ability to play the music of KISS as closely to the original studio (and in the case of some KISS tunes, I would presume, live album) versions as possible while also hitting the high, well-defined standards for each KISS member’s Look, gear, stage banter, and chest hair. A first-rate KISS cover band is expected to fit snuggly into the shadows of the masters themselves.

Some genres of rock ‘n roll, I would argue, are “Olympic” in nature. The clearest example of Olympic Rock may be found in Rockabilly. Nothing original is required in Rockabilly; in fact, it might be argued that nothing original is desired. A good Rockabilly band depends on hot licks, hot chicks, hot rods, smokin’ tone, cool threads, long sideburns, and high-stacked pompadours. A great Rockabilly band depends on all those things but done to perfection! And maybe the bassist is really good at riding his standup bass at key points in a performance. Rockabilly judges watch intently, with tattooed arms folded, to ensure that the guitarist is playing the solo in Billy Lee Riley‘s “Trouble Bound” EXACTLY as Roland Janes intended it to be played when he first perfected his licks in some shotgun shack.


  5 Responses to “Olympic Rock”

  1. The rockabilly/Olympics parallel works well because all those band requirements can be considered the “compulsories” like you find in judged Olympic sports. At a minimum you must be able to successfully perform the compulsories within the confines of how those moves have been defined.

    Also, Rockabilly typically has a high degree of difficulty as far as guitar playing. Hot Rod Lincoln is hard to play! Your not going to have too many Olympian garage bands because the degree of difficulty is too low.

    You’ll never hear an Olympian jazz fusion guy. Clearly examples of guys who have given up amateur status and “gone pro.”

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    Mod, that was a post of Olympian humor! 10 points!

    I think all the revivalist-du-jour bands that pop up as soon as a certain historical genre becomes *just* cool enough to be rehashed (Mr. Dog, or whatever your band’s name is, I’m looking at you) are the musical equivalent of Olympic exhibition sports. So, you see, there *is* a line connecting The Polyphonic Spree and bowling.

  3. alexmagic

    So the standup bass is kinda like the luge or the skeleton?

  4. And two guitar leads in harmony are like synchronized diving?

  5. Mr. Moderator

    Yes, Cherguevara! The Allman Brothers, Hunter and Wagner on Rock ‘n Roll Animal, the harmony leads on “The Boys Are Back in Town”…cue those 5 rings and the Olympic theme music. Raise the appropriate national flags.

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube