Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- Those gruesome news reports from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony the other night remind me of a conclusion I came to a few years back. Rock and roll is dead. Rest in peace.

Through the years the peace of the grave has crept up on a lot of rockers, usually years before they arrived at the average life expectancy of almost any type of adult human being, including sky divers and inebriated jaywalkers. Given how preachy the average rocker became by the late 1960s, this is ironic. In their warbles they lectured ordinary Americans on what to eat, what to wear, even prayer. They lectured us on the value of the great outdoors and of world peace. An astonishingly high percentage of them then found themselves under arrest for random violence or ingesting substances that were decidedly unhealthy. So rock and roll, rest in peace. Besides, rock and roll has not come up with a worthwhile song in at least a decade.

Happily the replacement for these left-wing nihilists on radio has been the right-wing talker. Rush Limbaugh -- the master of the genre -- and Mark Levin, the rising oracle of the genre, are total opposites from any warbler ever featured in Rolling Stone magazine, and both are probably better singers. I have no doubt that they are popular because America is an increasingly conservative country, and because conservative Americans are not welcomed by mainstream media with the exception of Fox. Yet there is another reason. Rock and roll is dead.

Radio is a medium peculiarly suited for music, but there is apparently not much of an audience left for rock and roll. I mean, how many decades can we listen to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and other rockers from rock's better days? They get tiresome, and apparently there is just not a large enough audience opening for earlier musical styles, for instance, big band or swing, jazz, or folk music. Country and western's audience is not replacing rock and roll, and classical music's audience seems to be in decline.

Hence we hear more and more Rush wannabes. Some are dreadful, vacuous, only dimly conservative shouters. But then, as I say, we have the rising Mark Levin and doubtless there will be others.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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