Tuesday, August 3, 2010


(this photo courtesy of my beautiful and talented wife and her Leica camera)

I often hear people asking "whatever happened to good old rock and roll?" 

It's still here, and doing fine, thank you.  You just have to look for it a bit. When I mentioned that my wife and I were going to see Social Distortion, I got a few people saying "They're still around?"  That's the problem!  It's true, they aren't the most prolific band in the world, never were, but people really slept on their last album, 2004's Sex, Love & Rock 'n' Roll.  It was a great album, and I was glad that they played two songs from it, "Reach For The Sky" and "Nickels and Dimes." They hit all of their eras, actually, doing the early hardcore stuff ("Prison Bound," "Another State Of Mind," "The Creeps"), their major label stuff that approached "hit single" status ("Bad Luck," "Ball and Chain") and some of thier excellent covers (The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb," Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire," the country standard "Making Believe").

Seeing Social D. is inspiring.  Mike Ness has been through a lot of life, and you believe him when he sings about hard times (whether he is playing rock with Social D, or country music as a solo artist).  He reminds me of Tom Petty.  Years ago, I asked Tom Petty why he thinks there are so many young kids at his concerts.  He said "Because we don't pander to them."  Plus, his shows were relatively affordable. I think it's the same deal with Ness (and sadly, Petty's shows are now probably too expensive for kids, unless they are die-hards). The show was filled with greying (myself included), balding (thankfuly not) people who have been fans for decades (my first Social D. show was seeing them open for Neil Young & Crazy Horse in 1990 and that's when I became a fan).  But lots of younger kids too. Ness has played these songs so many times, but he puts so much heart and soul into them, and he still seems to believe in punk rock as much as he did back in the day. He really means a lot to people. I'm so glad Social D. are still around. In fact, Ness mentioned that they signed to Epitaph Records, and have a new album out in November.  I can't wait to hear it. I think rock and roll has many decades left in it.  But I can tell you one thing: as long as Ness is walking this earth and carrying a guitar with him, rock and roll is in fine shape.  You just won't hear about him on the radio (too busy with nickelback) and you won't read about him in the press (too busy with animal collective and the like).  But if you love Social D, you haven't been using radio or the media to decide what you like anyway.

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