Picked up a Rolling Stone the other day and was struck by graying of its content. This is in sync with the aging of the Baby Boomers who made it a success back in the 1960's and '70's when it was a counter-culture music mag that made Hunter Thompson and gonzo journalism part of our history. Once a subscriber, I lost interest as it moved into the eighties, hip-hop, rap and Hollywood celebritology. Lately, I have been returning for the gutsy reporting of Matt Taibbi and others.
RS 1122 (Jan. 22, 2011) had an uncanny respect for the elders of the music business in both large and small ways...some surprising and some part of the routine music biz news.
First off was a feature on Robert Plant out on tour with Band of Joy, putting Led Zeppelin reunion gigs behind him and prowling music shops across the South for real roots music on vinyl and cassettes. Of course his reinvention produced last year's award winning duet with Allison Krauss, Raising Sand.
Elsewhere was a brief book review about the Zeppelin's '75 tour and a story about how Warner Records is opening up a recently discovered archive of 70's memorabilia that includes old photos of Zep and Cream and a Dylan contract from 1974 and a Ray Charles contract from 1952 (Wouldn't you like to read the residual clauses from those?).
Then there was a nice column about John Mellencamp's "new" tour of "old" classics and rarities, plus a plug for his movie in the works.
The 2011 R & R Hall of Fame Class might make the cover of the AARP magazine: Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Tom Waits, Darlene Love and Dr. John. A full-page obituary was a nice tribute to Captain Beefheart and his creative quirkiness.
Short snippets and photos highlighted the Kennedy Center Honors for Sir Paul McCartney, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson; and how Crosby, Stills and Nash have split from producer Rick Rubin after two years of work recording cover songs. Aretha Franklin sadly is battling cancer.
Are the editors pandering to boomers who have the money to buy the magazine or watch the premium cable shows that dominated the advertising pages? Or is it a tribute to the fact that the music of the good ole days is aging well and its creators are still productive?
Speaking of good ole days, a couple of interesting music specials are airing this week on PBS (check local listings). Tonight at 8 pm (EDT) it is a tribute to Motown at an "In Performance at The White House" taped last week. John Legend and Jamie Foxx led the parade of cover artists and Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy join in music and commentary (as does the Pres).
Tomorrow night at 9 (EDT) "American Masters" looks back at singer songwriters who got their start at the legendary "Troubadour" club in Los Angeles. Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor and Carole King are among those who swap tales (and we hope) play some music.
Remember these and other music shows, such as "Austin City Limits" and "Soundstage," as Congress contines to cut budgets for the arts and other so-called discretionary funding.