Nov 142012

In a recent discussion of the band Alabama Shakes, whose recent appearance on Austin City Limits surprisingly impressed Townsman Al and yours truly, Townsman Hrrundivbakshi asked a wholly appropriate question:

Seriously, why do us old white folks require “second coming of…” acts to really give us rock boners?

It’s a good question. These days, do I only pop a boner for the “second coming” of Farrah Fawcett and whatever other actresses turned me on when I was a teenage boy? Of course not! My dick, to keep this discussion regrettably crude, has adapted to the joys of new, good-looking actresses with their own contemporary style. What is the deal? Does new music lack tits and ass, or whatever turned us onto music in the first place?

I have no answers, at this point. Let’s discuss HVB’s question.


  17 Responses to “Rock Boners for Old White Folks”

  1. misterioso

    I do hope you get some answers to this pointed question.

  2. bostonhistorian

    This one is too hard for me to answer.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    The only thing more predictable than the rock boner sprung at the arrival of a “second coming of…” act: the rock softie that occurs when old white rock fans complain about “having heard this all before.”

    I’m preparing for a work thing right now, but will try to circle around on this later. My hope is that we can steer clear of the road-worn arguments about, a.) nothing new is any good; b.) there is nothing new — it’s all a total ripoff of everything that’s gone before it; c.) the last good new thing I heard was…; d.) Led Zeppelin/the Rolling Stones totally ripped off my favorite old black blooz guy, .

  4. 2000 Man

    I just like guitars and don’t want to hear the same old songs I heard in high school. I don’t care if someone sounds like someone else, or not. The only time I tell people, “I’ve heard that all before,” is when I know it will get their goat.

    Alabama Shakes are pretty good. They’ve toured non stop since their album came out, so they should really be improving.

  5. misterioso

    I totally agree with you, and I, for one, promise not to use the tired-ass “nothing new is any good” argument. Regardless of how true it is.

  6. sammymaudlin

    Well, let’s get one thing straight…

  7. The thing I like about the few clips I’ve seen of Alabama Shakes is that they give off a vibe of having fun doing what they’re doing. There are so many little things I see that make me wish I’d continued avoiding them, but ultimately I get a similar vibe than what I often get from Janis Joplin and whatever incarnation of her Full-Tilt Unwashed Manson Family Pep Band. To me, that’s less a “second-coming” boner than it is a timeless appreciation for a type, like Deadhead girls or European girls with bangs. I don’t feel too bad about that.

    As I suggested, I do think that the new music scene contains too many bands lacking “tits and ass,” or whatever. In terms of sex symbols, for instance, it’s similar to the way I’m mystified that Pink is now considered “sexy.” On Earth?!?!

  8. I generally agree with you on this one, 2K. You get to that timeless appreciation for some form of T&A.

    What do you think about Pink? Not her music, but her looks?

  9. machinery

    I file these guys under the “I have a lot of respect for them and they are really quite talented and make great music that I would never in a million years buy but probably like if it were on a stereo at somebody else’s house.”

    In recent years I’ve come across many soulful acts like this: Robert Plant/Alison Kraus, Nora Jones, Corine Bailey Rae, Joss Stone, etc, etc. Everything I hear from them seems genuinely great — and I enjoy it — but I can’t see buying it — even spending the 9.99 on itunes.

    What gives me the rock boner is when I hear the youngin’s finding a new way in to creating super catchy pop/rock. ala Tokyo Police Club. But that’s just my personal kilimanjaro I guess — I’m so much more impressed when someone can find a new way to rock than a new way to soul.

  10. 2000 Man

    Pink looks too much like Billy Idol’s big brother to me.

  11. Slim Jade

    Hmmm…this is a chin-stroker.

    This happens in all the arts: So-and-so is the “next James Dean”.

    Is it plain old pedestrian nostalgia? Homesickness? Soothing an ache of displacement? What is it that we yearn for that the “second coming of…” provides, even only momentarily and probably not very nutritiously?

    I don’t think it’s nostalgia per se, because though I’d get revved up at someone like J.D.McPherson bringing back a particular sound, it’s ultimately NOT something (having been born in ’62) that I lived through the first time around. It doesn’t bring up the glory days for me, however there is a level of appreciation for that (in this case: rockabilly, Gene Vincent, simple production, stand-up bass, trap kit for drums, Happy Days/American Graffiti) aesthetic and lifestyle etc., etc.

    How is it that if I hear “the new Dylan”, or some other flavor of the month, I feel like (maybe only briefly) I’m living in the now? Why do I feel a total immersion in the present? Am I a junkie for elements of exact recall? And why do I delete these things shamefacedly from my collection soon thereafter?

    My guess is that we are not tending to idealize or sentimentalize a re-captured sound and all that comes with it, but we do seek to be amused and charmed by these things. It makes us feel hip, different than our surroundings, and thus it is more about our present state than it is about some bygone era.

    For whatever reason, we need the fix. It keeps us swimming, like a shark.

  12. I was really impressed with how rock hard this question was.

  13. 2000 Man

    I was born in 62, also. I suppose my mom had a lot to do with the fact that I really like a lot of 50’s music, and I’m usually a sucker for some Rockabilly schtick, but in JD McPherson’s case, I think he’s actually pushing the minimalist combo (what a great word people never use anymore!) sound into a much more modern direction. Where something like Firebug would have fit just fine at the Grange Hall my mom used to dance at, A Gentle Awakening or Signs and Signifiers are just a little too modern. Maybe not so much musically but definitely in attitude.

    Then again, it could be that if you’ve got a stand up bass and an electric guitar I’ll sign up for it nine times out of ten just because I love the noise they make. It’s not a sense of nostalgia for me, I’m sure of that. I don’t stiff out that many records, so I’m not often shamefacedly deleting things, though I’m going to mention “growing out” of something in another thread.

  14. Now that I know the mechanics (and limitations) of the form, I can’t get as hot and bothered about it. For instance, the last rock boner I got was listening closely to full power-pop-geek-bait Fountains of Wayne “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart”. I know how this is gonna go – I love the one note piano, whoa-ohs in the chorus and the way the instruments drop out out 2/3 through but 25-30 years ago I’d be cranking it loud, playing it for friends, planning to see the next show. It ain’t like that anymore.

    Compare someone like Jennifer Aniston. Today I think, she’s held up great, she must have a top personal trainer, I wonder if she’s on some weird Hollywood diet. Years ago it was like “Rachel … Commando … YES!” Yea, It just ain’t like that anymore.

  15. bostonhistorian

    I was listening to J.D. McPherson with a musician friend and we were talking about how McPherson’s music sounds. His recreation of an earlier sound is uncanny–usually there’s at least one instrument that’s a little off that clues you into the fact that it was made a year ago, not fifty years ago. There’s really not any of that in McPherson’s sound. We ultimately concluded that if we could give any band that type of production, it would be The Blasters.

  16. hrrundivbakshi

    This was a source of much conflict and disagreement when I posted it on that *other* social networking site recently. It gave me a nice retro-rock-boner. Others were less aroused.!

  17. bostonhistorian


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