Rock novel




All the money we made them make was ending up in little black boxes, then mounted on those fucking American bombers to bomb that fucking North Vietnam. I would have preferred the Mafia to Decca Records.

Keith Richards said it, when he found out that their record company, which had accumulated huge sums with the group of Jagger and Richards, reinvested part of these in the weapons industry. It is, unfortunately, the metaphor for the trick of rock music.

The rock that had its field of expression in the America of the 60s (in particular the music coming from England - the British Invasion - which had to establish itself in the United States, as a controlled origin trademark), is not the rock that we listen today. It is a matter of authenticity.

Maybe it is a rough example, but for me honesty in rock music is Vasco Rossi, an Italian rocker, who sings conta sì il denaro, me ne accorgo soprattutto quando non ne ho (yeah money counts, I realize it especially when I do not have any). 


There is a phrase used by Charles Bukowski at the beginning of Hollywood Hollywood, when Chinaski, driving his Volks through the marina towards Marina del Rey, defined those characters who messed about on their boats: they were all people - Buk writes – who succeeded in some way to get out of the grinder of human existence. And I, of course, was not even in their thoughts.  

Those figures described by Charles Bukowski remind me of the boss of bosses of rock and I consider the grinder expression an absolute stroke of genius. Dreams and ideals break on that rock represented by the bills to pay and the dimension of being outside the human grinder, to enjoy the celebrity and a possible immortality, are luxuries that few humans can boast. All of this is so far from the riots in the streets, the barricades and the conventions of the 60s. 

At that time, rock (and all its dramas), could have seemed like a mass party, but when the industries of concerts and records enter the counterculture and infiltrate like a disease, the essence fades.

The fact is that rock, for record companies, is a formula. Sam Phillips, producer and disc jockey, knew it well. He was the one who founded Sun Records. At the beginning, it was just an old garage equipped by Phillips as a recording studio. The place was born to welcome amateur musicians who wanted to record a record and then look for a label.

Actually, Sam Phillips did not hide the project of finding white people who played like black people to invade the market. If this can be considered a dream, it was Uncle Sam's dream (God, how I like, in these cases, to write American-like!).



Therefore, we must admit that, in addition to the formula and the business, for many entrepreneurs in the sector there was the component of the dream, too. If we add the “mom factor” to all this, the deed is done. It is not very rebellious as an image, and it is therefore necessary to explain it better.

Phillips' studio, which was not yet called Sun Records, was located at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis. On July 5th of 1954, a young truck driver from an electric company, Elvis Aaron Presley, was on the road for work commissions. He fortuitously noticed Phillips's studio and was left thrilled by it. Soon it would have been Mom Presley's birthday and the boy wanted to record a demo for her entitled My Happiness. The coincidence got married to the Fate, as Sam Phillips listened to the tape. The die had been cast. Sam realized his dream and Presley became the king. 

Many remember records with Sun Records as Elvis' most fruitful period. Some also write that the Sun recorded the first rock and roll record in history. It was Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston, a song written by the great Ike Turner. But here we are already entering in the field concerning the discovery of the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. The how, who, when, where and why on the birth of rock is a matter as infinite as the primordial spark of the universe. 

 

- Rock hasn't changed things – Rigatone says – but I like to think it was a trend. The big stars today are multi-millionaires, in practice they are companies, but have summarized the thoughts and frustrations of girls and boys who until the middle of the past century waited for a nod to enter society.

Punk music shocked the old-fashion-way in Great Britain, and the poet Dylan sang of another America, the psychedelic with its excesses, incited to widen the horizons of the Mind; The “Who” wanted to die before becoming old, concept unrelated to human factors; The sorrows of “Waters” linked to the war-related developments and how it became insensitive and of ice. The visions of Jim and the doors in America engaged in Vietnam, the disillusionment of the Stones compared to the role of stars acclaimed towards the contradictions of a world visited on tour.

Well, girls, I've lived all this inside my room listening from a new stereo from time to time I could afford a better one and then, at some point I saw them all, at least those who are still there, from behind the scenes of a stadium or a palace, but still in front of me.

It was all fascinating and amazing, when you see them in a few steps you think of nothing other than people like you, and that now, just as we are talking, exist and are doing something in the other part of the Earth, like us at the moment.

The fundamental thing is the message, always the message and this makes them, or makes what they have done, special because it has been listened to by millions of people all over the world.

In a nutshell, the common denominator of all these messages was the uncompromising NO to the war and to what devastates our society. Rock had tried to imagine a better world, perhaps using illicit means like drugs, challenging as long as he could. It was a phenomenal propulsion for a new thought. The lives of millions of people would have been different without rock music. Without those illusions and even violent visions, our society would be stuck in the past century.

Even politicians, who decided our destiny, had experienced a rock myth in their adolescence. Too bad when they come to legislate, they forget about it. If there's a limit to music, it's not being able to climb the last ramp of stairs, those that lead to management or, to use a poetic term, the scale and the heaven's door. Rock dies not because there are no more musicians or myths to be framed, but because this new generation that had to change the world and who had been fed up with all those messages, once they cross the threshold of the buttonhole, they think all messages received are childish and without implementation plan, more or less like the generation before them, which had them classified.

In this way, Girls, to paraphrase Neruda, you die slowly.


Taken from On my generation



 

© ENRICO MATTIOLI 2018




© Enrico Mattioli 2018