A few thoughts on the passing of the great (now late) Chuck Berry. Is it too much to cal him the father of Rock and Roll? I was listening back to some of his old hits on a deliciously crackly old vinyl record this afternoon – they all seemed so simple, stripped and basic compared to today’s many layered, complicated and over mixed songs. Just one man, a guitar and his talent and genius.
All that early rock and roll sounds so simple, but in music, simple is never simple. As any musician will tell you – it’s easy to churn out mediocre versions of complicated songs, but it’s real hard to do the simple stuff with the same rhythm and shine as the original – Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, Eddie Cochrane, Buddy Holly – well-written, catchy, simple songs that are actually very difficult to play – and I mean play in the sense of giving them life and feeling.
Imagine Mr Berry’s life as a rock and roll road trip, his was the simple car – no modern gadgetry – just get in, crank her up and go – an old classic, a pleasure to drive because you had the real sensation and thrill of driving – and now a lot of music is like the modern, electric and soon-to-be, driverless car.
There are still legendary rock stars, but all that “rock and roll” thing is no longer an ethos, or an attitude, it has become a fashion statement, and in modern rock, I get the thinking that there is no rock and there are no legends – the world has become a succession of one hit wonders – if a band makes it to a third album, they attain legend status.
So, another living legend has now become the stuff of legend and as for rock and roll legend itself, that is becoming a marketing strategy – creating heroes out of TV talent show winners. It’s like electric cars, electronic cigarettes, alcohol free beer and political correctness – there is nothing vaguely dangerous or edgy anymore in rock and roll.
RIP Mr Berry