To the editors:
Your “unified theory of rock” [Hitsville, November 5] was interesting to read, and largely accurate, but there are a few holes in your argument. Your generational distinction between the listeners (and buyers) of music by musicians like Pearl Jam, and the rather staid fans of Sting, Clapton, and Phil Collins certainly holds true; then again, you are comparing William Burroughs to Danielle Steel, apples to oranges, leather to polyester. All of them come out of the same category, but they achieve a different effect.
What’s my point here? Well, in all honesty, Sting, Clapton, and Phil Collins never could speak to or for an entire generation. Sting is much too much in love with his own trite angst and intellect to care about anyone else, Clapton just wants to play the blues; he never pretended to have anything to say to teenage wasteland, and Phil Collins: c’mon, Bill, Phil Collins is a rocking chair that lulls the butt to sleep, but he is hardly a rocker!
However, not all dinosaurs over 40 are irrelevant. Did you forget Lou Reed? When I went to see Lou last year during the Magic and Loss tour, there were plenty of beardless creatures along with the hippie bohemians left over from the 60s. I sat next to a group of them, and they knew every song from the Velvets as well as the most obscure Lou Reed solo compositions. I was impressed.
There are teenagers who adore the Ramones (same generation as Sting), Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Brian Eno . . . Granted, put their catalog together, and none of these musicians would have outsold one Phil Collins CD (or Pearl Jam, for that matter). But they must be doing something right because they still remain relevant. My own psychic abilities tell me that bands like Pearl Jam and U2 will go the nostalgic route of the Stones, Who, and Elvis, while groups like Nirvana and Rollins Band will stay germane for every meaning-seeking generation under 20. But just like anything you write, it is only an opinion.