It’s bad enough hearing (and seeing! My eyes! My eyes!) Dylan pimping for Victoria’s Secret (oops, almost said Charlie’s Angels. Same diff) or, years back, Crosby Stills & Nash singing “Teach Your Children” for some disposable diaper or training-pants company. But it seems that almost every spot on TV these days has a classic-rock soundtrack.
Not to mention the use of classic rock in the shows themselves, for instant cred and solidity. As MDF Michael Rosenthal reminds me: it was a weird little shivery moment on NBC last night when "Medium", who had in that ep put "Sympathy for the Devil" into heavy rotation, broke for some bank or credit-card spot featuring Jagger singing "I'm Free." Apparently the Glimmer Twins have decided to seriously enter the commercial lists, going head-to-head with Pete Townshend in the TV whorestakes
But it’s "The Who Sell Out" in real life, Pete tossing his curls like a great big whore. He makes no bones about it: says they’re his songs and if he wants to sell them for automobile commercials or "CSI" themes it’s his right to do so and make money off them, and it's none of our business if he does.
He’s correct, of course, at least in the legal sense. But what he and others don’t seem to consider is that we their audience have a certain emotional and spiritual and historical interest and stake in those songs.
We listened to them, grew up/older/wiser with them, made love to them, broke up to them, fell in love again to them. They’re the soundtrack of our lives, and I think we can be forgiven for feeling proprietorial and possessive about them. And we do NOT want them to become associated instead in our minds with meds for nasty physical complaints or underwear however pretty or gas-guzzling eco-unfriendly vehicles or dubious foodstuffs.
May God set a flower on the head of John Densmore, Doors drummer, who has consistently held the line, alone, against his bandmates Manzarek and Krieger, who seem to feel that, Jim’s stated opinion to the contrary notwithstanding, Doors songs should be sold for commercial purposes to the tune of millions. John says if he has enough money, then they have enough money, and besides, Jim would be pissed off to see the songs so prostituted. The songs are sacred, in fact, he says.
And he’s right—unqualified. Go John!
In the meantime, I now have to listen to “Shape of Things to Come”, by a studio group d/b/a Max Frost and the Troopers, being used by Target. What irony: the defiant theme song of “Wild in the Streets”, a deliriously and delightfully exploitative “youth” movie from 1968 starring Christopher Jones as the charismatic rock star Max Frost, in which everyone older than 25 gets rounded up and sent to LSD rehab concentration camps, is now de-fanged and employed to flog merch for Tar-zhay.
(And it’s a fine, fine song, too. Go download it from iTunes.)