Feb 242013

I am severely challenged by matters of time and space—and even the thought of looking at a map makes me dizzy—but watching the video someone made of this excerpt from The ResidentsThird Reich ‘n Roll got me thinking about rock’s coordinates, or maybe the term I’m seeking is polar forces. You know, all that stuff that has todo with latitude and longitude.

The Beatles and The Rolling Stones are not “opposed” to each other, in the negative connotation of that term, but they are clear points on rock ‘n roll’s map. The coordinates of our position relative to those points tells us something our about place in the rock universe, maybe even who we are.

I hope someone more geographically minded can make sense of what I’m getting at and smooth out what I know I’m getting at. When and if this makes sense, are their other pairs of artists that serve as rock’s coordinates?


  25 Responses to “Rock’s Coordinates”

  1. cliff sovinsanity

    I get what you’re saying Mr. Mod. Perhaps the Beatles are the Tropic of Cancer and The Stones are the Tropic of Capricorn. High points on the equinox, right.

    James Brown is definitely a south pole candidate.

  2. saturnismine

    This is an interesting topic. I may or may not follow your thinking, mod, but I think I might have a few:

    – first, a classic, perhaps even obvious “opposition,” which contains more polemicized elements: the Eagles and Neil Young, especially w/ Crazy Horse.

    On the one hand, we have a band that labored over every aspect of their recordings, ensuring a pristine, clam-free outcome. They proudly extolled the virtues of meticulous overdubbing, and even punching in the syllables in vocal tracks they wished to hone.

    On the other, we have Neil who proudly broadcasted his penchant for recording live, avoiding overdubbing and egregious post-production polish, and leaving the clams. The former claimed the latter’s tunes sounded like demos. The latter didn’t give a fuck about what the former said.

    – Neil and Lynard Skynard may be more in the spirit of the Beatles / Stones opposition.

    Both played rock in a country mode, but had very different approaches. And like the Beatles and the Stones, we locate them at very distant points, at least on an ideological on a map of rock, because of the differences in their general affect and even their apparent contention to one another in their lyrics.

    – And finally, maybe Pearl Jam and Nirvana are even more like a Beatles / Stones opposition.

    They came out of the same milieu, were rivals, but again, offered very different takes on what rock should sound like, very different interpretations of their rock inheritances.

  3. cliff sovinsanity

    High points FROM the equinox.

  4. Suburban kid

    Not quite the same thing, but this post put me in mind of the infographic drawn by teen Velvets fan Jonathan Richman in 1967, predicting the trajectory for various artists.

  5. Maybe its only me but I think of the Beatles Appollonian to the Rolling Stones Dionysian. Please note I am not referring to one of Prince’s many musical discoveries Appollonia sp? I think of the Beatles as for the most part as writing clever , playful songs. Though I do view “Norwegian Wood” as a notable exception into the sensual. The Stones image and sound overall is much more earthy. Remember the Mods and Rockers . I see the Mods are Beatles fans and the Rockers as going for the Stones.

  6. Yes, I think Young and Skynyrd and Pearl Jam and Nirvana get close to what I’m talking about. In both cases I think the artists are of equal level of cred. The Young-Eagles one may be right, too, but I think of Young as having a much richer catalog – and I’m blinded by my hatred of the Eagles.

  7. Consider the mileage between The Who/Small Faces and The Jam/Weller.

  8. Weird, the question mark was the only thing that shows.
    I put Blur and Oasis on a “similar yet different” spectrum.

  9. machinery

    This has me thinking of the Husker Du/Minutemen “rivalry.” Both three pieces came from “Punk” backgrounds. Husker had the wall of sound wash, while the Minutemen more specific instrumentation and greater variety to the songwriting.

  10. saturnismine

    I think I used to hate them. Now I just don’t care about them all that much.

  11. saturnismine

    I thought about Jonathan Richman, too.

    He might be suitably “poled” with the Sex Pistols.

    They both draw from the same canon of pre-punk bands. But Richman was generally a celebrant of the past, while the Sex Pistols decried it.

    And both insisted that rock move past its wistful early to mid 70s pyshic oblivion to something more lively and rebellious.

  12. jeangray

    Hatred implies some form of emotional involvement with said object of one’s hatred.

  13. jeangray

    Ima not sure that fits, since Blur was able to able to realitively quickly outdistance Oasis in terms of popularity, creativity & sales.

  14. jeangray, I used to date Timothy B. Schmit, OK?

  15. Suburban kid

    Not so. Oasis sold far more records than Blur and was/is therefore more popular.

  16. Hank Fan

    If you are going to get serious about plotting different rock bands on geographic coordinates, then you have to identify an X and a Y axis, like latitude and longitude on a map. Then you just plot the artist onto the graph. But I’m not sure what two factors would be best at quantifying the universe of rock.

  17. jeangray

    He does have pretty hair!

  18. jeangray

    Which members of either band still have viable careers?

  19. Suburban kid

    I don’t know. That’s a different issue, though.

  20. Suburban kid

    Right, but there are many different things you could plot on such a chart.

    Originality vs. Authenticity
    C&W vs. R&B
    Quality vs. Quantity
    Live vs. Studio

  21. jeangray

    Well, I did some research & confirmed your info about sales, although Oasis enjoyed it’s last hit here in the States in 1998.

    I suppose in my mind, I lump Blur & Damon Albarn’s other bands all together, and would still argue that he far out performs Oasis, if not in sales, certainly in terms of creativity & cultural impact.

  22. I could see Blur and Oasis fitting on this map. They’re both working toward a similar territory, but there were probably fans and bands who fell on one side of the other of their axes.

  23. I see Blur’s and Albarn’s extended overall impact in the same terms as jeangray.

  24. YES!!! This may be the clearest addition to the map yet.

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