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Trying to Redefine Rock

November 15, 1987

It is amusing to observe such a display of defective reasoning as shown by Hilburn in his latest analysis of rock 'n' roll, in which he seeks to prove that the music is not merely "air-headed dance-oriented" throbbing.

What is of interest is the particular artists he refers to: Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Springsteen, Sting, etc. All of these people already made their mark with commercially successful records before going very far afield.

Who but Paul Simon could get an album of South African music produced by a major record company? Who but Springsteen could make a multimillion seller featuring the lament of a Vietnam veteran? Who but Sting could get on the Top 40 with songs distinguished by the sounds of top-flight jazz artists?

It is obvious to any music lover that there are a million deserving musicians to every one that succeeds. Many of us cherish the undiscovered and therefore accessible songwriters and singers that we listen to and even play with.

It appears that to succeed, one must still fit into a narrow scheme of categorization. One must be catchy but not too provocative; sexy but not too lewd. And above all, you'll have to be male.

How many female artists make it on the force of their musical ideas? Is it because none of them are any good that not one was mentioned in Hilburn's article?

PETER VAN BORST

Del Mar

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