The Hold Steady’s new album “Stay Positive” is, to my ears anyway, a cross between “Born To Run” era Bruce Springsteen and Social Distortion. A friend at work substituted Social D. for Thin Lizzy, but agreed on the Boss . When you listen to it I don’t think there’s any way you wouldn’t hear the Boss’ influence; even Craig Finn (principal songwriter for the HS) admits that he is inspired by the guy in a big way.
Yet another friend of mine (yes, that’s two) said something today that kind of stuck. He said, and I‘m paraphrasing here, “You know, I can appreciate the effort and the fact the guy is influenced by Springsteen, but if you want to listen to something that sounds like the Boss why not just listen to the freakin’ Boss?”
Which brings me to the question of the day: has any rock record released in the last 20 or so years been truly original? How about the last 30? Or 40 years? Or is that a stupid question and besides the point, as rock and roll by definition is a hodge-podge of different musical genres anyway?
I dunno, I’m asking you.
Is Dylan just a Woody Guthrie clone? Were the Sex Pistols just a glamed up version of The New York Dolls and the Stooges? Did Nirvana just get lucky by riding the coattails of The Pixies and copying their soft-loud aesthetic at the right time? Do we have to go all the way back to friggin’ Robert Johnson to find a truly original voice?
Or is rock and roll an organic and ever changing cannibalistic
beast that devours then regurgitates it’s own past, eventually evolving into something totally fresh and unique?
Again, I don’t know.
I’m asking you.
8 hours ago