Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Steppenwolf, A Band With Meaning.

It is no secret that I am old. I have a blog on aging, a great blog, on aging successfully, that you should be reading, and enjoying, and sharing with your friends, because lets face it, you guys are not getting any younger, which is fine, because I am here to guide you through the mine field of aging. But, that is not what we are here to talk about today.

It is also no secret that I like old music. Music that many may think predates even me. Music from the sixties and early seventies, music that was pointed, radical, and filled with the angst of the day. I have never been able to shake my appreciation for the pioneers of rock and roll. Trail blazers who used music to tackle injustice, hypocrisy, and the established institutions they felt promoted the horrors of the time.

While my friends bought Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, and the Doobie Brothers, I was lost in Credence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead, and the band that really epitomized the feeling, to me, Steppenwolf.

In their songs they tackled war, government, corporate greed, religion, everything that the established order held to be of value. It was a scorched earth musical tour through a decade of anger, mistrust, and confronting what they saw as a systemic abuse of power.

Even today the music moves me to think "things could be better if people paid attention," Most people can tell you about listening to "Born to be Wild," and a few old heads can talk at length about "Monster," but the anger, and despair went much farther.

"You fill this house with things of gold,
While handing crumbs to the old and poor
Then you preach about being pure
And wonder why we're laughing." *

It was confrontation with a musical accompaniment, it was art with an edge. It was more than music, it was life.

"You've been telling lies so long,
Some believe they're true,
So they close there eyes to things
You have no right to do."**

But, as is the always the case with humanity, people lost interest in fighting the power. And Steppenwolf was a victim of their own success. There was still plenty to be angry about, but there weren't enough people willing to take up the cause.

The music was so sixties, so trippy it was beautiful and mesmerizing by itself.  There was so much going on so often. And there were the songs that were fun, and funny. In all they were just a band with good music, who got caught up in the day, the movement. In a way that may never happen again.

I still listen and identify with the anger John Kay could muster, but have long ago abandoned any hope for real progress. So, I drink to your health, and I listen to your music, and I applaud your courage and audacity. And lord knows the world needs those qualities today.

 * From Here to There Eventually.

** Don't Step on the Grass, Sam.