Now seems like as good of a time as any to admit that I got into the Apples in Stereo through the Powerpuff Girls. But I can’t feel ashamed since it led me to one of indie rock’s finest.
Somehow amid appearing on the Colbert Report and starting to promote the Apples’ amazing new album, New Magnetic Wonder, Robert Schneider found a second to contribute to Mixmas.
“Songs About Rock and Roll (That Made Me Believe When I Was In Middle School)” by Robert Schneider
My favorite genre in rock music is songs about rock and roll. I love how since the birth of rock and roll, ecstatic rockers have been moved to sing its praises, celebrating the virtues of rocking, and defending rock music against nonbelievers with sensitive ears and early sleep schedules.
Rock and rollers are like the Oracle at Delphi, high on strange fumes and filled with non-sequitors. Rock shows are Pentecostal revivals, where even the most self-conscious of us feel completely absorbed in the dancing and fist-pumping. The rock band feels it too, a tangible energy rising from the crowd, making the music flow so easily it seems impossible to hit a bad note. (Having experimented at such moments, I would like to report that it is indeed possible, and that one should not look a gift horse in the mouth.)
Rock and roll is religion, uniting the isolated, and attracting young converts with every power chord on MTV. It is all about vitality, about not growing up, not growing old, not dying. Electricity is woven into every note, from guitar pickups to studio speakers to electromagnetic waves of the radio station. I cannot imagine anything more mystical, right within our reach, than the infinite oscillations which only await our touch to be called into existence.
For me, rock as religion is not a metaphor. I feel the electricity when I am recording. I have finished songs which I had no memory of composing, which came into existence in an instant, startling me. I have been pressed against the stage at the front of the crowd, and have never had better friends than the bodies surrounding me who shared that moment.
I got my first guitar, a generic red Flying V, when I was thirteen years old. Immediately I realized that you can write songs with only one finger if you use enough distortion, and 22 years later I still haven’t exhausted that initial inspiration. When I was thirteen I deeply believed that beneath the chords and fuzztone was another world, filled with promise. My whole life has been the pursuit of that world.
At that time, when I was in middle school, these songs made me believe– not just in rock and roll, but in my own potential.
If you do not believe then turn the volume up, and you will.
MP3: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – I Love Rock and Roll
When I was 12 I borrowed an electric guitar from a friend’s mom, and I picked the root notes of this song out with one finger, the first song I ever played. That year I saw Cheap Trick and Joan Jett play in the same weekend, my first two rock concerts. From Cheap Trick I learned about loud guitars. From Joan Jett I learned about hot girls. I got punched in the face at the Joan Jett concert by a bully, which did little to faze me after hearing Joan ask the crowd “Do you wanna touch me?” (“YEAH!” we responded on cue, with great emotion.)
MP3: AC/DC – Rock and Roll Aint Noise Pollution
Also when I was 12, my babysitter took me to Wal-Mart and I purchased my first two LP’s, “Uh Huh” by John Cougar Mellencamp, and “Back in Black” by AC/DC. For the record, my first cassette tape was “Pyromania” by Def Leppard, and my first CD was “Song Cycle” by Van Dyke Parks (I was somewhat older when I bought my first CD). This song is so indignant: why are we scorned, when all we want is to feel good? Fellow rock and rollers, NEVER turn down when the sound guy tells you to!
MP3: Foreigner – Jukebox Hero
I had this fantasy when I was thirteen, that I would be in the crowd at a huge concert when the guitarist would injure himself. The lead singer would ask, “Is there anybody who knows how to play guitar?” and I would climb onstage and finish the set with the band, in front of everybody I knew. I wonder if others have this dream? I don’t mean to sound cheesy because it probably won’t happen all at once at a huge rock show (I would like to believe it is possible though), but if you have this dream, then you have what it takes to make it happen. You know exactly who you are, that I am referring to. I wore this seven-inch out when I was thirteen.
MP3: Twisted Sister – I Wanna Rock
God I loved Twisted Sister when I was in middle school! I etched their stylized T.S. logo into my desk and locker, and just about every other surface I encountered. I so related to Dee Snider when he spoke against parental warning stickers at that congressional panel with Tipper Gore. He was my hero. Actually Dee Snider is still awesome, he has an infinite supply of good humor.
MP3: Argent – God Gave Rock and Roll To You
The descending chord progression and cosmic sentiment (“He put it soul of everyone”) make me misty-eyed to this day. Do you hear what he is saying? Rock music has existed since the beginning of time. This is from the same prophet who delivered “Odyssey and the Oracle,” so you know it is true.
Day 12: Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
Day 11: Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear
Day 10: Allan Vest of The Starlight Mints
Day 9: The Light Footwork
Day 8: Casper and the Cookies
Day 7: Sure Juror
Day 6: Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!
Day 5: Michael Nau of Page France
Day 4: Greg from Oh No! Oh My!
Day 3: Tony Miller of Ideal Free Distribution
Day 2: Ivana XL
Day 1: Daniel of Oh No! Oh My!
Mixmas 05 (MP3 links don’t work)
Day 13: Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal
Day 12: Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
Day 11: Justin Rice of Bishop Allen
Day 10: Becca from The Light Footwork
Day 9: Jay from The Light Footwork
Day 8: Christian Owens from Bishop Allen
Day 7: The Rinse
Day 6: Chris of Gorilla vs Bear
Day 5: Dodge from My Old Kentucky Blog
Day 4: Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!
Day 3: John Vanderslice
Day 2: Tapes ‘n Tapes
Day 1: Dean from Secret Unicorns Forum