Remember when rock music was kinda bad & dangerous? Of course, at its best, it still can be. But, for better or worse, much of what’s now marketed as “classic rock” has become an institution—a strange twist, because so many of the classic rockers railed against institutions.
One of the ways this change seems most apparent is the trend to use rock songs in commercials. Now, I don’t begrudge someone trying to make a buck off his/her music—
I certainly try to do so!—but can you hear a song the same way after hearing it in an ad? At that point, has a good song become a “jingle?” Has it been somehow triviliazed & sanitized, or does it still retain its original power?
Seems like a fair question, especially as the boomers age & their music—60s && 70s rock—becomes a sort of cultural soundtrack. As a cultural soundtrack, those songs have a lot of mojo, but in many cases, that mojo seems to be put to “commercial” use (pun intended). Here’s a very short & select list of “classic rock” songs that have been put to the use of making “the man” (in the man’s guise as corporation) more bucks:
Come Together-The Beatles: AT & T Wireless
Rock & Roll-Led Zeppelin: Cadillac
Pink Moon-Nick Drake: Volkswagen (admittedly, a special case, as Mr Drake has been gone for a number of years—& the fact that in the month following the commercial's first airing more Drake records sold than in the previous 30 years is not a bad thing)
Young Americans-David Bowie: Fidelity Investments
Baba O'Riley (aka Teenage Wasteland)-The Who: Hewlett Packard (this seems particularly ironic)
Sunshine of Your Love-Cream: Touch of Gray Hair Color
You Can't Always Get What You Want-The Rolling Stones: Coca Cola
Speaking of the Rolling Stones—like the Who, bad boys par excellence in their heyday—we also have the Ruby Tuesday chain of restaurants. Now I actually like that song —at times in my life, the song has had meaning that is quite separate from associations with buffalo wings or burgers. Is there any way for a song to come back after its title is used for a restaurant franchise?
Apparently so: check out the video below, in which the late Vic Chesnutt restores heart, soul, guts, lungs & other vital organs to “Ruby Tuesday,” a song he covered often in his career. Mr Chesnutt’s version won’t appeal to everyone, but to my mind it’s transcendent. By the way, the volume is very low thru the first verse but comes up to normal when the whole band enters for the first chorus.
The photo of a Ruby Tuesday restaurant is by Wiki Commons user Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license. & is published under the Creative Commons