If you lived in some alien universe and happen to crash land your U.F.O in my back yard. I would make you a good cup of tea and play these 5 for you as prime examples of this thing called rock.
Coldplay is like a quality lager….bright and satisfying. I don’t care if they have taken over the world; they are still producing a quality product that is very drinkable. This is a great song that music fans all over the world will crank up loud when it hits the radio or Pandora or iPod (whether they admit to it or not)
My personal favorite is from “Live Rust” and this is a masterpiece. We know the story of Cortez and Montezuma. We know it as history but this track converts that historical angst to emotion. So many rock songs are about “women does man wrong” or “man does women wrong” – but this- Conquistador does a civilization wrong by removing it from the face of the earth is an elegant twist.
3. Go your own way- Fleetwood Mac
Lindsey Buckingham is kind of underrated as a song writer and guitar player. Most songs about unrequited love are kind of depressing and bring you down. This one has a kick to it. Like soaking those cooked chicken wings of despair in a hot tangy buffalo sauce and taking a big bite.
2. Smells like Teen Spirit- Nirvana
The timing on this makes it perfect. In 1991 hip hop was taking over in a big way…Rock was stale- the charts were full of reheated leftovers and half-hearted efforts by big stars. Rock had lost its edge. This song was a kick to the balls that Rock Music needed in a big way. When you heard it…it knocked you over.
Just for fun kids-Let’s look at a couple reheats and stale artists from 1991 –
“Live and Let Die” Guns and Roses- really Axel and Slash? You had to cover this? You guys couldn’t find other ways to pay for all the hotel rooms you trashed…how about working at the hotel instead of this reheat?
Kiss- God gave Rock and Roll to you– Yes, he gave it to us to help us make sense of this world…he did not mean for us to add water and boil a novelty song by Argent for a movie soundtrack so Gene Simmons could buy more jewelry for his girlfriends.
As far as the half hearted attempts go…Bryan Adams and Genesis (The “hey, let’s try to sound like Motown, only with weaker songs- Phil Collins version of Genesis…instead of the “hey, let’s be like Pink Floyd, only more theatrical and pretentious- Genesis with Peter Gabriel*”) both had multiple hits that year.
My apologies to Metallica as Enter Sandman was released this same year…I won’t call it perfect but I would not argue against it.
1. Hotel California- The Eagles
Is this about heaven or hell or drugs or being seduced by desert women? I don’t know- but book me a room here. It’s full of references to some kind of unavoidable trap that we all fall for even though we should know better. This took the Eagles from country rock to cool as a fresh breaker from the Pacific Ocean. Joe Walsh added just enough to put this over the top. This is what a title track and an album cover should be. Rock songs should take you somewhere- give your brain a bit of a work over and let you find your own way back. Perfect.
*Disclaimer- I love Peter Gabriel…The New Blood show of 2011 is the single best concert I ever attended!