Everyone loves to marvel at rock and rollers like The Rolling Stones that keep on rocking well into their golden years. But isn’t it also incumbent on us to tell certain rock and rollers when they should just give it up? I’m not talking about retirement here – I’m just saying that there are some people should stick to the soft stuff.
3 Rock & Rollers that Should Stop Rocking
Nobody does schmaltz quite like Sir Elton. He’s been one of music’s finest purveyors of maudlin ballads for well over 30 years. From the early masterpieces like “Daniel” and “Your Song” to the bloated (yet endearing) pomposity of later songs like “The One” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, Elton and his frequently collaborator Bernie Taupin know exactly what it takes to write a song that goes down easy and makes you want to give the whole world a big old hug.
But something awful happens when Elton decides that it’s time to rock. Songs like “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” or “The Bitch is Back” are bad enough, but “Crocodile Rock” is the real sin here. “Crocodile Rock” is probably the worst song ever written by a major star. It’s an insult to rock, and EJ should have his rock license revoked for writing it. The fact that Bob the Builder, The Beach Boys and The Baha Men have all covered the tune show that they, too, definitely do not rock.
Ironically, or perhaps not, the next contestant in our little game is Elton John’s touring partner Billy Joel. Now I will admit that I am unfairly biased against Billy Joel because he is the aural manifestation of Long Island. Having attended college in upstate New York, 90% of my classmates were Long Islanders and they loved two things: Long Island and Billy Joel. Now, I have nothing against Long Island (except for the clutter and the traffic) but I have nothing for it either. But Long Islanders act like Long Island is the South of France. It’s not. And years of living with people that possessed a ridiculously high opinion of Long Island (and Billy Joel) has caused me to hate both Long Island (and Billy Joel.)
Unlike Elton, who reliably writes great ballads and shitty rockers, Billy is all over the map. He’s written some really good songs (e.g. “New York State of Mind”) and he’s written a ton of bad (but popular) songs. But nothing is quite as bad as his pathetic rockers. The stinkers include “Movin’ Out”, “Big Shot”, “Pressure”, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. I’m suicidal just thinking about those songs. And why do weak-ass rockers always have to include the word “rock” in their song titles? I suspect that Billy doth protest too much.
I feel bad including James Taylor in the list because he’s not really a rocker and he doesn’t even pretend to be. He’s a folksy singer-songwriter and in the past I’ve really liked JT. But ever since I bought the “(Live)” double-album in 1993 I’ve liked him a little less with each passing year. I predict that by 2015 I will actually like JT from Kool & the Gang better than James Taylor and by 2020 I will actively dislike James Taylor.
James’s crime is singular. His song “Steamroller” is an awful, awful song that is embarrassing for everyone involved in performing or listening to it. Especially the part where he scats: “chicken chunkin’, mother fuckin’ care…” Seriously, James? “chicken chunkin’” was the toughest phrase that you could come up with? It reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld trying to talk dirty. (And please lose the perma-hat – we all know you’re bald. It’s no big deal. Tell Paul Simon and Dwight Yoakam while you’re at it.)
Can you think of any more rock and rollers that should give up the rock?
(Well, besides Courtney Love. We didn’t mean that rock.)