Whatever happened to great rock ‘n’ roll innovators? The thought occurred as Bruce Springsteen blasted out another epic at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Call it a mid-life crisis, but I’ve long suspected the true immortals of this most visceral of all artforms are now all either nearing pensionable age, or older. Or dead.
Appreciation of art is subjective, whether it be books, film, or paintings, but there are certain truths we cannot ignore in the rock world.
Elvis, the first white singer to convincingly sound black, kicked it off, and the drab post-war world of stuffy deference and rigid class systems was transformed from black and white into technicolour virtually overnight.
Tragically, he was dead by just 42, washed up and bloated. But nothing could stop the floodgates now. Another tormented soul Chuck Berry – once described as one of the five most difficult people in the world – had written Johnny B Goode, Memphis Tennessee, Carol and a few others, and the Stones were born.
Mick, Keith, Charlie and co did more than most to blow away all that post-war austerity and class ceiling nonsense. Once you had soaked up the primal jungle beats of Honky Tonk Women or Gimme Shelter, life was never quite the same again.
The Beatles added their own infectious mop-top melodies to one of the biggest parties of all time, while the patron saint of the counter-culture, Bob Dylan, was staking a claim as the single greatest artist of the 20th century. His songs and lyrics raised the consciousness of millions, and ushered in the civil rights movement.
As Springsteen, whose unique formula of driving blue collar rock was to give new meaning to millions of lives, said: “The way Elvis freed your body, Dylan freed your mind.”
And what have we got today? The X Factor, little Robbie Williams, Rihanna, a host of largely interchangeable nondescripts with loud voices but nothing to say.
This may well be an age thing, but I tend to stick to the old adage that form is temporary and class is permanent. At least that’s my excuse.
* Jon Griffin is the Midland columnist of the year