by Rev. Walter Beck
Believe it or not, rock n roll is still a threat in our post-modern world. True, long gone are the days when preachers all over the country gathered in an angry voice against the “dangers” of a new form of music called rock n roll. You can still find preachers that consider rock n roll a threat, but they’re usually confined to the lunatic fringe. A good example of this is the “Dial-The-Truth” Ministries, a website devoted primarily to primitive, graphic fear mongering and damnation. And they hate rock n roll. Here’s an example from their website:
“Like Iron Maiden\’s, song \”The Number of the Beast\”, in which they direct young people to take the Mark of the Beast:
\”666 the Number of the Beast
666 THE ONE FOR YOU AND ME!\”” (taken from www.av1611.org, italics, bolding and capitalization are theirs, not mine).
Now, this is taken out of context (look up the definition of “quote mining”) to make their point that rock n roll is somehow “possessing” the youth of America; that kids aren’t “smart” enough to see “what’s really going on”, they’re blind to the “truth”. Well as a long time Iron Maiden fan (saw them live in 2005, excellent show), I can tell you the truth, this is a song! Nothing more, nothing less, its lyrics, its poetry and certainly not meant to be taken literally.
My own personal experiences with the so called “dangers” of rock n roll go back to when I was wee young Walter. I was going to a day care run by my Aunt Pattie and I had my boombox and my box of tapes by the likes of Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly and even a little Beethoven (this was before I got into punk and metal). Well she decided that that music wasn’t “appropriate” and took my boombox and tapes. I was devastated; music was a great source of comfort and joy to me even back then and what was so dangerous and wrong about it?
I got an even harsher lesson on this years later when I quit my job at Ransburg Scout Reservation in 2007 after upper management dehumanized and threatened me. Part of the central issue was my radio that I had in my area and how some of the Scoutmasters didn’t like my taste in records which consisted primarily of Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Steppenwolf, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and maybe a little more underground stuff like Minor Threat or Yarz Revenge thrown in every once in a while (for the record, in four years of working there, I got a total of four complaints, not exactly a wide majority or even a sizable minority).
So why is this stuff considered so dangerous these days? I think it’s because rock n roll is a very liberating form of music; listen to Ritchie Valens’ “Ooh My Head”, that opening burst and the high energy that flows through the song that is the sound of liberation in a hot bluesy electric guitar riff. And unfortunately, particularly here in the Midwest, there’s this mindset that kids are “property” and not people. And if a kid gets a hold of something that makes him feel free and alive, grown-ups ain’t gonna like that.
I think it’s also considered dangerous because it reminds grown-ups of back when they were young and idealistic and felt like they could change the world and most of them changed that fire in the belly for an office job and a mortgage and they don’t like to be reminded of when they were young and fiery.
And finally, I don’t think most grown-ups realize how smart kids are, that was always one of the big things against rock n roll when I was a teenager, “Oh no, that evil Marilyn Manson is corrupting the minds of the kids with his sick message!” The funny part of it, we all knew it was a show on Manson’s part and the grown-ups were playing the lead clowns. Manson is a performer, an artist and all those “naïve” kids knew it. I can tell you, after years of working as a camp counselor, there is no one out there as smart and sharp as a kid; they know the real deal when they see it and they hate phonies just as much as Holden Caulfield.
That is why the grown-ups still see rock n roll as dangerous, because it is the one form of music where you can’t be phony, you have to feel that hot rhythm deep down in your heart and soul. The message isn’t in the lyrics, it’s in the music.
I leave you with these words, “Rock N Roll is Freedom”.