Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve never listened to nursery rhymes? The bane of my 2-6 year old life, not knowing any nursery rhymes. My friends still make fun of me for not knowing the words to ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’. Well, the main reason this happened is because I have an older brother. When I was around 4 years old, he was 11. I highly doubt you’d see an 11 year old boy listening to nursery rhymes because he had a younger brother. My brother being a hardcore rock music listener, made sure Guns N’ Roses, Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Pink Floyd were always playing on the radio. Instead of singing about a little lamb that Mary had, I was mumbling the words to Welcome To The Jungle and Smells Like Teen Spirit. Because of this, my music taste was way different to all my friends’. Even now, I still blast the music of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and ACDC on my car radio. To be honest, I’m glad that my brother was so stubborn and wouldn’t let my parents play us nursery rhymes because now, rock music is the only thing I want to listen to.
I remember one of the earliest songs I listened to was TNT by ACDC. I think I was around 9 years old at that time. From the start of the song, the loud strum of the electric guitar just catches your attention followed by the singer shouting “Oi oi oi”. The words I was singing were not even correct but I had no clue, the feeling of hearing Angus Young shred his guitar was empowering. I felt like at 9 years old, I could do anything an adult could. Now, whenever I hear this song, it just takes me back to the first time I heard it: in my room playing ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’. Now at 20 years old, I’ve heard almost every rock song from all the greats, and as every rock and metal nerd does, I did immense research on them till I felt like I was part of their band. Every now and then I’d bore my friends with the most minuscule details about each band. They pretend to care but I know they couldn’t care less. But it doesn’t matter to me. If you’re talking about rock and roll, I could keep a conversation going forever.
Hence, I could find no better way to share my passion for rock music than to share to everyone some fun facts about a few rock bands that I like.
Firstly, we have to look at one of the earliest bands to play rock and roll, The Kinks. The Kinks were a band from England and are considered one of the most influential rock bands ever. Have you heard of distortion? It’s the sort of fuzzy sound you hear in every rock sound that gives it the hard rock feel. People often say that distortion is a happy accident because of the ways people used to achieve it. Well, in the 1960’s the guitarist for The Kinks decided to destroy his amplifier with a razor and that’s how the distinct fuzzy distortion noise was made for the song “You Really Got Me”, which is one of their most famous songs. Ask your parents about it, I’m sure they would’ve heard it from somewhere. I first heard this song on an episode of ‘Mad Men’ believe it or not. Mad men is a great TV show by the way. John Hamm is in it. Who doesn’t love John Hamm? Anyway, the first song I heard from The Kinks was ‘All Day And All Of The Night’. Go listen to it, it sounds so simple yet so brilliant. I think I heard it when I was around 10 years old and fell in love with it, partly because the words were so easy to remember and so catchy. Some people say The Kinks also inspired the punk rock movement as many punk rock bands use the same kind of sound but that’s a story for another time.
Next, Guns N’ Roses. This band is arguably one of the greatest rock and roll bands on earth. With hits such as ‘Welcome To the Jungle’, which is arguably the best rock song ever written, ‘Paradise City’ and ‘Nighttrain’, it was hard not to listen to them. The reason they were famous was partly because they were infamous for all their bad streaks. The lead singer Axl Rose had anger management issues. There are many videos of him on Youtube storming off stage and arguing with some audience members or even attacking them in serious cases. The band members were known for getting drunk during every concert until they could barely play their instruments, but that was the allure. They were the cool band that everyone had to see and listening to their songs made you look as cool as them. Well, unless people see you scream your lungs out trying to reach the insanely high notes that Axl can reach. This band was also known as it is one of the few bands where the lead singer and the lead guitarist were the face of the band. For example, Maroon 5, whose name is synonymous with the band? Adam Levine, the lead singer. Bon Jovi? Jon Bon Jovi, the lead singer to name a few examples. The only other band that had something like this was ACDC, with Bon Scott and Angus Young but everyone knew that the main draw was Angus Young, the lead guitarist. Sadly, Guns N’ Roses broke up around the late 90’s because members slowly left as they claimed that the lead singer, Axl Rose was bipolar and would shout at everybody. But, recently they got back together for their final tour, jokingly called ‘Not In This Lifetime’ as a reference to when each member was asked if they would get back together, they would reply with ‘Not In This Lifetime’. I also managed to get tickets to their concert in Perth, Australia. Let me tell you, it was surreal. Seeing your childhood idols running around on stage singing to YOU. It was undoubtedly, one of the most memorable moments I’ve ever had in my life.
Besides that, I’m sure everyone has heard of Nirvana, and the tragedy of the lead singer Kurt Cobaine, who committed suicide. The music of Nirvana spoke to many people, the words resonated with everyone who listened to it, including me. The songs managed to make everyone who felt left out, unaccepted and abandoned feel like they are not the only ones who felt like that and because of this, many people took inspiration from this band and their songs. Chester Bennington, the former lead singer of Linkin Park has said that he also listened to Nirvana and that their music comforted him as he was also dealing with depression. Songs such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Lithium” called out to the adolescent angst that every teen felt. The band’s ability to provide a place where people could let out their frustrations and be themselves was mainly why they were so universally loved and why Kurt’s death took a toll on so many people as it came at a time when Nirvana were poised to take over the world. His death took a heavy toll on the band members, especially Krist Novaselic and Dave Ghrol. In an interview with Dave Ghrol, he said that listening to music in general was hard after Kurt’s passing. The sadness he felt was too much that it was hard for Dave to do anything. After a few months, Dave would then form his own band called Foo Fighters. The name was inspired by the airplanes that were used in World War 2. See, I know a lot of useless facts. The band would then go on to be very successful. There was even a Nirvana Reunion recently, where Dave, Krist and some other invited guests played all the old Nirvana classics.
Well, that’s some facts about a few of the bands that I like. I hope this persuaded you to give rock a chance. In the immortal words of KISS, God Gave Rock and Roll To You. All I can do is shed some light on the greatest music genre that ever was made. It’s up to you to let rock and roll live on.
Some honourable mentions, Greta Van Fleet (The New Led Zeppelin), Led Zeppelin (of course), ACDC, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Linkin Park.