Trying To Get To You

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

No One Does Death Like Rolling Stone

The new issue of Rolling Stone is a tribute issue to both James Brown and Ahmet Ertegun. It’s filled with some great writing; Gerri Hershey’s piece on James is excellent, filled with anecdotes and insight born from a twenty-five year friendship with the Godfather. The Ahmet Ertegun section is lovingly done, featuring recollections by many artists and an interview with Jerry Wexler.

It’s issues like this when Rolling Stone really shines. Their command of the history of rock and soul is unmatched in the mainstream magazine world and as much as anyone, they’re a curator for the music. (Hell, they basically run the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.) I still have their tribute issues to John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Jerry Garcia, Ray Charles and Johnny Cash. I vividly recall comparing the Cobain tribute issue to Spin Magazine's (a magazine that was much more culturally simpatico with Nirvana than Rolling Stone) tribute, and noticing how much better and insightful the writing was in Rolling Stone. I think it was Greil Marcus who said, “No one does death like Rolling Stone.”

The magazine is an easy target for a lot of people. I think the ratio of scorn to praise for the magazine is about 10:1. I’ve been reading it for twenty-five years and I remember people saying it had become irrelevant even back then. But I’m quick to defend them. Why? Well, who the hell are they supposed to put on the cover? Rolling Stone is a mainstream magazine of a large size. What interesting rock stars/bands are there that can sell covers at that level? Ryan Adams? The Killers? The Fray? The Arcade Fire? Clap Your Hands Say Yeah? If your answer to that, like mine, is no, then you can’t blame Rolling Stone. They only reflect the current state of rock – they don't shape it anymore (if they ever did) and the fact is that most rock has gotten too small to be on the cover of Rolling Stone.

1 comment:

Jaggerfan1 said...

they could always put THE ROLLING STONES on the front, lmao

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