The genesis for the “Rock that Doesn’t Roll” series started a few months back. It was during our annual (Co-Vid precautioned this year) Thanksgiving-ish time of year gathering we attend with my wife’s college friends and their spouses. The subject concerned our friend Jim who was actually unable to attend this year. The ensuing conversation took place at his expense. Our friends were sharing a laugh and explaining to me how Jim absolutely hates Bob Seger. They told me how Seger is that one artist who totally gets under Jim’s skin. I of course was like, “What? How can someone not like Bob Seger?” This guy?!?!?
I mean, come on. We’re talking about Mr. Rustbelt. Mr. Michigan. The voice of the common man. Like a Rock! Robert Bob Freakin’ Seger man!!!!
But hey, I get it. Everyone’s got that one or two artists or bands they just can’t stand, even if most of the folks they know actually like them. Personally,I enjoy a lot of Seger’s songs. Hell, I was born, raised, and live in the rustbelt heartland. Honestly though, it’s not because of all that common man, working man’s stuff for me. I just always loved his voice. The song Night Moves is 44 years old and I could listen to ol’ Bob sing that number the rest of my life.
Speaking of the voice of the working man, what about this guy?
image credit: bbc.com
Ok. I know I have to be careful here. I have to tread lightly. I mean, after all, I’m about to talk about “The Boss” himself. Mr. Asbury Park. Mr. Bruce Springsteen. You know what I’m talking about. Bruce is one of those artists, sort of a la Sir Paul McCartney, that you fear people will jump all over your ass if you say even one negative thing about them. ” How dare you say that about The Boss! He’s the voice of the people you sonofabitch!” You get my point. However, if we’re being honest, isn’t it fair to admit we know people who don’t see the appeal of The Boss? If we’re being real honest, haven’t some of us actually thought the same thing ourselves?
Mixed emotions may sound a bit strong, but it’s fair to say I’m conflicted when it comes to Bruce. On one hand, I can easily come up with a dozen or two songs this guy has made throughout his long career that I really enjoy. Back in the early days of online music piracy I recall downloading a collection of Bruce songs I liked and burning my own greatest hits album of his material. I filled two discs. That alone says I think Springsteen is a talent who’s had a great career.
Yet with that said, I also find myself critical of the Rock pedestal many seem to place him on. He’s a Hall of Famer, and well-deserved. But I never found him or his band to be God’s gift to Rock N’ Roll or anything. In other words, I think it’s o.k. for folks to feel comfortable saying they think Springsteen’s just alright. Or more to the point, saying, ‘I know a lot of people love him, but I’m not really into his music that much.’ Yet like I said, some people feel obligated to say how great Bruce is. It’s kind of like the guy who joins in on a conversation about how great Dylan is, but in reality doesn’t own one Dylan album. I think they believe people will discredit their music opinions if they don’t sing certain artists’ praises.
Other bands/artists whose Rock Doesn’t Roll for Some:
image credit: consequenceofsound.net
Dave Matthews Band. I think this is a great example. I know so many folks who worship this band (I’ve been married to one for over a decade), and I know many folks who can’t stand them. I think most of this was on display in the ’90s or early 2000s when Matthews was more visible in the mainstream eye. Nowadays I don’t hear much from the haters. They’ve more or less forgotten about Dave Matthews Band. The fans are still there though. They are loyal and dedicated. Believe me.
I spent time on both sides of the fence over the years. I remember despising this band when they first broke on the scene. It was around 1994. I was in college. The Seattle sound, as well as other harder-edged alternative rock was still churning along. Dave’s sound was not what I was looking for back then. Add to that, it seemed like everywhere I turned someone was playing that damn album. When the second album came out, a girl living in an apartment across from mine loaned it to me and asked me to give it an honest listen. I did. It worked. She was right. I developed an appreciation for the talent and the music. Many years later my wife took me with her to see them in concert. I thought they were fantastic. I don’t listen to Dave much anymore. I haven’t heard anything from probably their past two albums. Point being though, it’s easy to see how people find them polarizing. I’m proof one person can have polar opposite feelings about them at different times.
So there were some more examples of bands/artists who roll for some, but not others. In my final piece, I’ll solely focus on an artist I think is widely beloved, but for me……..they’re the one I just can’t stand. Stay tuned.
Thanks for reading,