The Path of Rock – Part 1; what’s gone wrong

This rant about the sad decline of the guitar solo in modern rock was originally posted by Brian on his Facebook. Since he’s our lead guitarist, I thought you might be interested 🙂 It is intended to be the first in a series, so if you like it, you can hope for more!

If you asked me four years ago about the state of popular music, I would have told you that rock had died sometime in the mid ’70s, that with a few exceptions, chief among them U2, no one had recorded anything worthwhile since then, and I had no reason to listen to the radio because all new music is crap and I’d be better off spending my time figuring out what classic rock record I should buy or download next. Nu metal, hip hop, emo, pop punk, teen pop, it was all crap to me (some of that is still crap… others not so much).

The other day I was listening to the Fray’s “Over My Head.” I’m sure most people are pretty tired of this song by now, but, since I still don’t ever listen to the radio, the song still seems fairly new to me. Now, I don’t think the Fray is anything special, in fact, they’re probably primed to flame out after one album. And the song is an excellent pop song… no more and no less. It’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect to hear on the radio today. But it’s also the kind of thing you could never hear 35 or even 5 years ago. Despite my insistence that rock music is degenerating, I have to admit that it has evolved.

I’m not really looking to give a complete lesson in rock history, but simply to trace a few elements of rock music that I, personally, like. This is purely my opinion, and I’m working with a strong confirmation-bias. I was going to write a note about this, but I think it’s going to be too much; I’ll have to write two notes. I know you don’t want to read two notes. In fact, there’s probably no one who even made it this far in this note, once they realized the whole thing was more than two paragraphs. That’s OK, because this isn’t for you. It’s for me. Seriously, I’m going to come back and read this tomorrow. And when I do, I’ll say to myself, “Self, this is some damn good shit.” But if you like reading other people’s opinions on this stuff, as I do, you can go ahead and read.

The good stuff will come later, but I’ll use this first note to get one thing off of my chest, the one thing that really sucks about rock, the one area where musicians have been dropping the ball for thirty years. I’m talking about the downfall of the emotive, virtuoso guitar solo.
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