I looked out this morning / and the sun was gone / Turned on some music to start my day…
Most of us have heard Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” so many times we don’t think twice about singing along. But one day, Patrick Regan decided that not only did he not want to sing along with Brad Delp any longer, he had some serious questions for him.
Let me get this right. You roll over in bed, peek out the window, and find that the sun is gone. Not “obscured by clouds.” Not “not yet risen.” But gone. The solar system has ceased to exist as its eponymous center is no longer present. Do you panic? You do not. Do you cry out, your face instantaneously frozen in a hideous death mask? Hardly. What you do do is put on some music to start your day. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how real rockers roll.
So goes the line of questioning at rockmocker.blogspot.com, a new site created by the Kansas City author to ponder the hidden meanings of a genre he readily admits was probably never made to be lyrically scrutinized.
In only a few months of operation, the Rockmocker has already posed questions for Steve Miller, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller and Journey, which he asked “How do passengers aboard the midnight train going anywhere know when they have arrived at their destination?”
So far, no classic rock heavyweights have responded. But for the Rockmocker, the fun is all in the asking.
KCFP: Where did the idea for the Web site come from?
PR: Basically, I’m trying to exorcise my demons with the Rockmocker site. I came of age during the absolute glory years of what is now known as classic rock. I honestly was never a fan, but there was no escaping the music on the radio.
To me, Journey, Styx, Kansas and Boston are the four crap bands of the apocalypse. I’ve always hated them, then and now. But 25 years ago, their lyrics wormed their way into my brain and I’ve finally accepted the fact that they’re not going anywhere. This is what I resent. What percentage of my grey matter is still being used to retain the words to Skynyrd songs? I can’t stand Skynyrd. I don’t even like to type Skynyrd. But I’ll probably die with “Gimme Three Steps” thumping through my brain.
I recently passed 40. I might have cured lupus or written some brilliant, transcendent literary masterpiece, but for all the precious mental real estate forever occupied by the collected works of the Van Zandt brothers, I can’t remember the names of my own children sometimes (and I only have two). But God forbid I ever forget any of the words to “Carry On My Wayward Son.” I need help. I figured maybe I wasn’t the only one.
Also, I have to say that in all honesty classic rock is a guilty pleasure. Love it or hate it, the point is I know it, and that goes a long way with me. When I’m driving across Kansas (If only… I’m referring to the state) at 4 in the morning, I seek it out. I don’t want to hear M. Ward or Nick Lowe or anyone else I normally listen to. I want to hear “Misty Mountain Hop” very, very loud.
So the blog serves a dual purpose of venting my own spleen and providing a forum for others to do so. I started doing it in question form for the simple fact that the lyrics to classic rock songs invariably leave me asking “What the hell?”
KCFP: What’s the most pressing question you’ve had for classic rock over the years?
PR: One of my favorites came from a reader (actually a minor rock star himself) who wrote in to ask Paul Simon: “What exactly were you doing with Cecilia that you had to get up and wash your face?” I understood his puzzlement immediately. I’m sure he’s heard that song 4,000 times in his life, and every time wonders to himself, “What’s with the urgent face-washing?”
The questions readers send it are hysterical — and they confirm for me that I am not alone.
KCFP: What classic rocker (living or dead) would you most like to sit down with to resolve some unanswered questions?
PR: I would have quite a bit to say to Billy Joel. I guess my first question would be, “Man, what are you doin’ here?”
KCFP: How do you explain Kansas City’s undying love affair with classic rock?
PR: That’s the thing, it’s not just Kansas City. It’s everywhere. Go anywhere in America and if you scan the FM dial you are guranteed to find four formats: Christian, Hispanic, Country, and Classic Rock. Can’t explain.
I recently read a review in which the author declared that the Doors have become less hip than Journey. How did this happen?
I believe the answer to that one is Glee.
But what’s really revealing is that smart people in Hollywood (like David Chase and whoever writes Glee) still co-opt classic rock because they realize its terrible power over so many of us. Also, the influence of Guitar Hero is not to be underestimated. When my 12-year-old nephew walks around singing “Fat Bottomed Girls” — a song that was vacuous, ridiculous and utterly disposable 20 years before he was born — well, something is happening, Mr. Jones.
KCFP: What’s your all-time favorite classic rock song?
PR: How about my all-time least favorite, because I’ve given that a lot more thought. “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad. I’m going to write a dissertation on its suckiness one day.
KCFP: What do you envision for the future of “Dear Classic Rock, I have a few questions?” Could this turn into a book, calendar, or lecture tour?
PR: I was hoping for a reality show.
KCFP: How can others with questions for classic rock get in touch with the Rockmocker?
PR: There is always a direct link to my e-mail address on the blog, rockmocker.blogspot.com
One thing that’s important for readers to remember is I don’t answer the questions on this site. I just provide a forum for asking them. I’m counting on the classic rockers themselves to come through with the answers — even if they have to do so from the grave. Jim Morrison…do you hear me?