Heart was incredible at the Greek last night, a very hip friend posted. I was aghast. HEART???? Good Lord, what’s next, Styx? He said no, because Styx was fucking awful, while Heart had been a real good band for a while before they went syrupy ballads. They did an Immigrant Song as an encore, he said, and it was perfect. He wouldn’t hear anything bad said about Ann Wilson’s voice. It is a force of nature, he said. The cover of Immigrant Song as an encore was perfect.
I should have then, out of sheer decency, apologized and let it go. But instead I spluttered, Heart were fucking awful too! I remember, I was there! Heart is one of the reasons God invented punk rock. But try to understand, my friend said, try to understand….. I could hear him sighing, rolling his eyes. But I refused to understand, and out this poured, a manifesto, raging, aging, unstoppable….
I refuse to understand, it began, because Heart, Styx, Foreigner, Boston, Stevie Nicks’ Fleetwood Mac…it was all the same. All the lousy corporate rock of the seventies. It was all equally awful. All you had to do was hear the Ramones to realize it. Back then you liked one or the other. You stuck with the bogus corporate rock bands in their bad hippie outfits, or you bought the Ramones album. You either went to the Forum to see Heart or you went to some hole to see the local punk crazies. The hostility was mutual. Good singers were a dime a dozen back then. Good guitar players even more so. They were all so good. A whole industry behind them. But that wasn’t the point, was it? The point was that they weren’t real. Real. Something was real or it was bogus. It’s hard now to explain what was real and what wasn’t, I suppose. But Heart was definitely not real. Just another lousy hippie band who needed to go. If they’d been obliterated in a fiery tour bus accident, we would have made evil jokes and laughed. I’m not justifying that, just saying the way it was. Nowadays people can go see any old band and see their good points, no matter how lousy they were. All rock music, hell all pop music, becomes good with time to somebody, no matter how intrinsically shitty it was in its time. But I think when worthless corporate rock becomes hallowed with age, it kind of drags down the whole music. When the stupid and worthless attain value because they and we are getting old, well then what was the point of rebellion anyway? Why hate something if you’ll just like it again later? Bad corporate rock back then is just bad corporate rock now, no matter what they tell AARP magazine in their exclusive interview. And I pasted in the url to the AARP article and it appeared and there were the Wilson sisters and in big letters AARP. A cheap shot. Cheap but effective. I won.
Back in 1979-80 my girlfriend (now wife) lived next door to this perfectly nice guy who happened to be a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party. He was as fanatical about Marxism as we were about punk rock. He lives in L.A. now, about as long as we have, and we bump into him periodically. I buy a Revolutionary Worker off him just for old time’s sake (and toss it in a bin around the corner, it’s unreadable) and we catch up on each other’s lives, and memories, and aches and pains. As we walk off I always say what a nice guy he still is, but I can’t believe he still believes all that stuff after all these years, and feel a little sorry for him.