Coffee Cup Reading – The History of Rock n’ Roll, Explained

22 Mar


Most self-proclaimed music geeks have had those 3am spirited debates about their top ten favorite songs, the best bands of all time, and whether CCR should be the archangel to the Holy Trinity that is the Beatles, Stones and Zeppelin. (Maybe? Best argued over pints.) Recalling these sentiments is sometime rock critic Steven Hyden, who over 7 gloriously expansive pieces, attempts to explain why we like what we do, and put it all into context of history, alongside rock’s current road to extinction (please don’t die yet!). His mission statement:

“If we can learn how and why those bands became popular, and what those stories tell us about a larger narrative taking place in American culture over more than 40 years, we can track the fissures and failures that eventually caused rock to slouch toward irrelevance — and determine whether it can (or should) wage a comeback.”

Some of the golden quotes:

“In my mind, the bands and artists that have really mattered in rock were able to express the most uniquely human parts of themselves while at the same time transforming into something profoundly massive and uniquely inhuman. This sort of greatness can’t be fully quantified, but it can be partly quantified, in ways more tangible than the arbitrary judgments of music writers all too eager to set aside what moved the masses in favor of what moved them when documenting rock history.”

“If you’re interested in merely basking in the glow of a successful rock band that radiated untouchable perfection, then the Winners’ History of Rock and Roll begins and ends with Led Zeppelin. If you want to know how the sausage is made, we must discuss Kiss.”

I don’t agree with everything he says or the bands he picks, but I sure wish I had written it. Enjoy all 7 parts or just the one about your favorite band, courtesy of

Led Zeppelin


Bon Jovi



Linkin Park

The Black Keys

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