Lynn Van Matre had a gift. Reread her coverage of rock and roll in the Tribune in the 1970s, and you find her doing two things at once: she’s writing about rock with savvy and passion that young readers had to respect; and she’s explaining to the white, wealthy, conservative parents of those readers what the hell is going on with their kids’ music.
Here, for instance, is the angry note on which she concluded a long 1974 piece that traced rock back to its roots in C&W and R&B:
Born as a reaction against strictures, today’s rock is often little more than ritual, offered up to audiences who pay money to be crowded like cattle into barns with poor sight lines and sound systems. Once inside, too many of them get loaded on whatever the hip drug is at the moment, settle into the scene, and applaud like hell no matter what’s played as tho in the presence of gods. And these ‘gods,’ if they’re honest admit offstage it’s only a business and often express contempt or incredulity for the adulation they receive. Rock’s not dead, as some would have us believe. But as Frank Zappa once said, sometimes it does smell funny.