The peculiar elevation of Petty to the level of legend reveals two important things: Americans simply don’t know enough about rock & roll, this beautiful and feral art form that echoes Storyville and Bed-Stuy and Manchester and Memphis and West Texas and West Africa; and secondly, we have been conned into thinking that rock & roll is dead, so therefore we must turn its mediocre princes into kings, we must grab on to aging driftwood, because we are on the Titanic, aren’t we?
The primary source of this con, the glossy but jaundiced terrarium of silliness where so many of these lies were watered and nurtured, was (and is) Rolling Stone magazine.
Not only will I not miss Rolling Stone, I will celebrate its passing. Rolling Stone lied. It had its own concept of the story of rock & roll, and that notion was a pale chalk outline around the actual, useful, ecstatic reality. The death of Rolling Stone is not a symptom of the failing music industry; rather, the very existence of Rolling Stone was a factor in the failure of the music industry.
He also describes Harry Styles and Ed Sheehan and Dave Grohl as “pathetic walking pubic beards.”
You survived [adolescence] because of rock & roll (and some books, and some British comedy).
Of course, the trouble is that some of us “survivors,” well, cling to that “aging driftwood”…