A couple of reasons why there will be no more Exile's

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Posted by 2000 Man on May 20, 1999 at 21:22:14:

I keep thinking about why the Stones won't put together another certified "classic," and I can think of a million reasons why they will fail, but not many why they would succeed. So here goes on why I think failure is more likely than huge success:

Media coverage: If the Stones aren't on tour, and practically in your back yard, you won't hear it on the radio or TV in your town. The time they're in town, they'll get more free publicity than anyone, but after that - zip. It's like that for everyone now. The live radio shows aren't nearly as popular as they once were (King Biscuit Flower Hour, Don Kirshner, Midnight Special, et al.). I mean, Rockline is still on around here. This week they talk to Steve Perry. Who cares why Steve Perry left Journey? It's fucking 1999, didn't he leave in the 80's? Rock was way more popular with a much wider audience than it is today.

Media saturation: Rock radio really used to consist of three basic types. Top 40, album rock, and the R&B charts. All were similar, but had distinct differences. The Stones were able to reach all three charts on occasion, without alienating anybody. The Top 40 stations palyed singles, that was it. The R&B stations played black music (and I only use that term because I don't know a better one to use) which appealed more to a black audience, but certainly was selling HUGE to a white audience as well. (Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross etc.) Then there were the album staions. I'm in Cleveland, so I'll use those as examples. WMMS, WNCR, WWWM and others that came and went, mostly because 'MMS crushed them, played the songs that weren't singles, and allowed the artist to stretch out and try something new musically, or say something important, or showcase their ability to incorporate different styles into an album. But they certainly played their fair share of hits, as well. Saturday nights the album stations had plenty of the same songs that were on the Top 40 stations, they just dumped all the obvious "pop" (in an American sense "pop" is lightweight and inconsequential, not short for popular), and left the ballads for late night. But artists could easily cross over to any format and be welcomed by the fans.

Age of the audience: Rock music in 1973 was by most estimates almost twenty years old. Rock still had a sense of possibly going away. It was big, but it always seemed like some politician wanted to take it away from us. It was still young, and even in 78 I can remeber talking to a guy who saw the Doors. He blew me away with that! Saw Hendrix, too. These were people that I missed by seven years or so. They had seen the music grow from Bill Haley to Jefferson Airplane, and then grow from solo Beatles to Jefferson Starship. It fascinated me then, and it still does now. Rock is about 45 years old now, and because so many fans stayed with it, the musicians are forced to get past the simpler stuff that was poignant and insightful when we were 18, to something that's relevant to todays older audience. No kids ask me if I saw the Clash or the Sex Pistols. They do think it's cool that I've seen the Stones, and that I saw Motorhead crack a ceiling. But that I saw Clapton or Bowie or Deep Purple in the 70's? They don't even know who they are. Because -

Today's niche programming: Totally isolates audiences (and that means totally isolates PEOPLE) from each other. There's really three "oldies" stations in Cleveland now. One plays Chuck Berry, Elvis and Buddy Holly (and the Stones, some of it). One is the "classic" rock station, and they play the same old songs I heard in high school in the same heavy rotation, and now one that plays disco and a light smattering of Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers. All three are going for distinctly different audiences, and none of them expects a 13 share. All these stations strive for a crowd older than my 17 year old, that's for sure. He's sorely deprived of new music with guitars here in the "Rock And Roll Capital Of The World."

I think that Voodoo Lounge might have been a supreme classic. It sure gets a lot of time on my stereo. But if you don't hear it on jukeboxes, friends houses and while you're cruising in your car, it doesn't get the opportunity to permeate everything and influence the wide variety of people that it needs to in order to keep the music alive.

Thanks for toughing it out, kids. I'm glad I got that off my chest!

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