It’s ten in the morning. My neighbors across the street, the ones who said we were way too loud all the time, are currently blasting Cream. It’s so loud that at first we thought it’d had to be one of our next-door neighbors, like Little Drummer Boy or the Fighting Daughters of the Guesthouse.
But no. It’s the house across the street. It sounds like it might be coming from their backyard. They have a young daughter, but I think she’s too young to understand the power of blasting classic rock in a backyard at ten in the morning on a Saturday.
Just to show you where the boundaries of my Pop Culture Princess status are drawn, I thought our neighbor was blasting “some kind of Paul McCartney solo album.” Is Cream the one with Eric Clapton? See? I never really bothered to know. And outside of still being able to recite verbatim the commercial for “Freedom Rock,” I really don’t know one lick of classic rock.
I’ve obviously heard hundreds of classic rock songs over the years. I just tune them out. I’m sure it’s because of the places I lived in growing up, where classic rock meant mullets and the clank of empty beer cans smacking the pavement. Where the playing of an air guitar meant another guy was planning on shooting an actual gun in the actual air soon. Classic rock sounds like lost hope to me. It sounds like giving up. It sounds like music you end up listening to, instead of music you choose. No other station available? Guess we’ll just have to listen to classic rock.
It sounds dirty and sweaty and skinny. Clumps of hair stuck together, twined around the neck of a guitar. Long, dirty fingernails flipping through a roll of ones, looking for that one five he knew he had around here somewhere. Girls in tiny shorts with their asses hanging out the back climbing into the back of a truck, pulling a joint out of their bikini tops and then leaning back to fix her spiral perm before Lance goes whipping around the neighborhood so fast she chokes on her gum again.
In my head classic rock has become the anthem of bad stepdads and deadbeat fathers. It’s the sound of, “Are you gonna come down here and say hello to your child or do I have to call the cops again?” It makes me feel like I’m trapped in a Wal-Mart in Mississippi, and I’ve got to pick between the grey acid-washed peg-legged jeans and the bleach-spotted denim mini-skirt with high top sneakers and pink socks.
It’s that whiny voice of classic rock. Those tiny leather pants leaning back to squeal a “Mama” or a “Hey, hey!” or even a “YEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAH!” It makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s the sound of bad things are about to happen and that drunk guy over there is about to do them.
I can dig The Doors. I understand why people like Led Zeppelin, but I certainly can’t do it. I enjoy early Aerosmith. I do not count The Beatles. That’s about it.
I’m sure that all of this is because I saw The Who’s Tommy at a very impressionable age. I still remember that iron maiden scene. I think I cried for three weeks. It was scarier than The Exorcist, scarier than the top of the staircase moment in The Shining where the bear is giving head to Nixon. It was scarier than the dream I had of a clown chasing me through a button store, trying to kill me with a pair of scissors.
Classic Rock is scary. It sounds like ghosts wailing through the night, jamming an invisible, spooky jam. It’s like those old scary cartoons like Captain Caveman and Scooby Doo, where I’m really not sure what’s going on and all I want is to watch Sylvester chase Tweety again.
I also really hate Tweety Bird, but that’s a different story.
Classic Rock makes me feel like I’m about to get punished. Beat with a belt. Sent to a shed and chained to a rock for months. Classic Rock sounds like rusty fences creaking open, the bark of wild dogs that crave the taste of baby blood, and the sound of a woman on a porch shrieking into the night that she finally killed that son of a bitch. She finally killed him dead this time.
Classic Rock is every third Stephen King short story.
It’s the way that people go zombie-like at the first three beats, like Beavis and Butthead thrown into some kind of trance. It’s the way that it makes people pump their fists into the air and shout “Woo” to some song they’ve heard three thousand times, but it still makes their blood boil with the lust to kill or maim or vandalize or do something bad.
Classic Rock encourages people to drive fast, peel out, litter, squeal out figure-eights in a parking lot, forget to change diapers, become a house painter, decide to live in a van for a while, sell all their clothes to buy a surfboard, roll their own cigarettes, practice Tai Chi, grow a beard, grow a white beard, wear a visor unironically, name a dog “Sam,” bitch about the price of beer, pay kids to go buy them beer when the store won’t sell it to them anymore, buy a white truck, call all of their friends “buddies,” and forget where they left their wallets.
Classic Rock is the sound of negligence, irresponsibility, bad drug trips and weird dudes on a mission to seek out a higher understanding instead of getting jobs. And now, across the street, Classic Rock is once again mocking me, telling me that I have to be quiet every day, but the grown-ups across the street don’t if they don’t want to.
Maybe that’s it. Rap and rock and metal and techno and all of those kinds of music sound like kids jerking around and being irresponsible. It sounds like youth gone wild (People that still listen to Hair Metal unironically are again another story for another day). But Classic Rock sounds like grown-ups being bad. It’s adults misbehaving. That’s scary. It’s scary the day you first see your parents acting like children, laughing and shrieking and not being very parental and responsible at all. Sure, they’re just having fun, but when you’re five, you worry that your parents have lost it. They’re aliens and they’re going to kill you. Nobody wants their parents to be wild and crazy.
Classic Rock sounds like bad parenting.