In the booklet of the wondeful velvet underground bootleg box set “caught between the twisted stars” I recently found out an interesting interview of the late great sterling morrison.
There’s the most significant, concise, to the point definition of r’n’r I’ve ever heard. Here’s what this blog is foundamentally about…
Interviewer: “What do you think of current music?”
Sterling: “maybe i’m trapped by certain beliefs, but in early ’60s, you went one of two ways. Either you were a very sensitive young person, who cared about air pollution or civil rights and anti-vietnam or you were a very unsensitive young person, who didn’t care about civil rights because all the blacks he knew were playing in his band or in his audience. I was a very unsensitive young person and played very unsensitive, uncaring music. Which is Wham, bang, pow, Let’s rock out! What I expected my audience to do was tear the house down, beat me up, whatever…
In the ’60’s I was a biker type and I hung around with nasty black people and nasty white people and I played nasty white and black r’n’r music. On the other hand, you had very sensitive and responsible young people suddenly attuned to certain cosmic questions that beckon us all, and expressing these concerns through acoustic guitars, lilting harmonies and pale melodies. I hate these people”.
Interviewer: “What do you think of the future of r’n’r?”
Sterling: “Whatever’s being played in garage bands today! What does a garage band do with ELO? ELO doesn’t exist. What they do with Fleetwood Mac? Nothing!. Look a the recent issue of Rolling Stone: “You’re rocking, but did you ever sit down, jack, and listen to the lyrics?” Well, no, JacK. I never sit down and listen to the lyrics, because rock’n’roll is not sit-down-and-listen-to-the-lyrics music! why is that the Velvet Underground’s celebrated lyric-smiths never published a lyric sheet? Was that to strain to make you hear the lyrics that you could never hear? no. It’s because they were saying “Fuck you”. If you wanna listen to lyrics, then read the NY Times”
INterviewer: “Why do you dislike progressive music, music with a content?”
Sterling: “Anybody who needs Bob Dylan to tell him which way the wind is blowing is a serious mental defective. See, I go back. how well can you hear the words in a r’n’r song? Listen to the r’n’r records. The words are mixed so far back -they are non-important. And as musician i do my best to drown them out! If you’re going to rock music to learn something verbally rather than physically or viscerally, then you’re in a sad shape babe…. Foundamentally i hate music you can’t dance to….”