Across The Wire Vol. 2

The Dialectic of Rock Music

By Bill Whitten

Rock songs have their origin in the wound. 

Rock songs are born in the songwriter’s head and hands but then die. 

On stage or in a recording studio a rock band will bring them back to life like cut flowers in water.

Every guitar player is a historian.

Rock music is formed by a history that remains alive even in its decay.

Rock music is a territory that possesses no reality or connections other than those of a shared ecstasy.

The compulsion that drives the formation of any rock band is always the same: an impulsive, anarchic flight from society, propelled by something like romantic love.

A rock band is, of course, not like a family, but instead is like a religious order or a military unit or an urban guerilla.

Accordingly, the belief in something greater than itself is the glue that ties a band together. Instead of a god there is Keith Richards, the Beatles, Johnny Thunders, Lou Reed, Chuck Berry. Like divinities they can be worshipped or defied. 

Rock music is a military art; prepare for a performance or an album like a battle.

Refuse to choose between the beautiful and the unbeautiful.

In the recording studio the rock musician operates on himself and projects his suffering onto his songs. 

Contagion is both the lifeblood and the poison of rock music.

A rock musician is a being with no shell, open to pain, tormented by light, shaken by every sound.

Surrounded and controlled by machines, there is a compulsion to sing, talk and act like machines. It must be resisted.

Beethoven often played the piano with the lid closed.

Rock and roll when practiced correctly is never a reproduction of the past, but instead a present that is continually renewed. 

Devotion to rock music reinforces the worst traits of one’s character. 

The burning streets, the fuzzy horizon, the clouds, the river and fire, the cold, the suffering, the sadness, the vanished women. 

A man can never really know a woman, he can only pursue her indefinitely. It is the same with rock music.

Each rock song creates an infinite space.

Before the mutation took place that allowed homo sapien to speak, archaic humans had a signature, recognizable cry like that of the blue jay, the horse or the wolf.

Rock music is the color of black hair.

Bill Whitten is a musician and writer.  He is the founding member of St. Johnny, Grand Mal and currently records under the nom de guerre William Carlos Whitten. His latest recording *The Third Interval* was released in February 2024. His book BRUTES, a collection of short fiction was released in January 2022.