I love rock and roll! Any song that directly references it speaks to me. Starting with Chuck Berry’s “Rock & Roll Music,” I have always been obsessed with rock songs about rock stars’ love of rock and roll.
Chuck Berry and Led Zeppelin and The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty and the Ramones and AC/DC and Joan Jett and Oasis and The Velvet Underground and Billy Joel and Bob Seger and Kiss and Ian Dury & the Blockheads and David Bowie all recorded songs with rock and roll in the title. Rock and roll saved their lives, it inspired them, it made them who they are. I understand that feeling.
British bands in particular seemed to have had an affinity for the early years of rock and roll and the music’s black roots. Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones were both blues-based bands, and you could hear just as much Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley in their styles (especially with The Stones) as the early jump music that became rock and roll. Perhaps because their heyday was within a decade or two of the start of the music, they publicly revered their idols. I don’t see a lot of that in modern rock stars. The ones who are actual musicians, the ones who respect their craft and the artists who paved the way for them, they give props to those who inspired them.
It’s been a long time
Since I rock and rolled
It’s been a long time since I
Did the Stroll
Ooh, let me get it back
Let me get it back
Let me get it back
Baby where I come from
It’s been a long time,
Been a long time,
Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely,
lonely, lonely time
Yes it has
Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” is an ode to the music and the excitement it created back in the day. The opening drum riff is pure genius. It draws you in immediately, and you know you’re gonna get it but good. I hear Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard in the first 20 seconds, and when Robert Plant starts screaming about how long it’s been since he got his groove on, you can hear Elvis and Little Richard very clearly. I love hearing those connections in music like this!
This song wakes you up and reminds you of where rock and roll came from, and why it matters.
(And that’s why I’m sharing this clip. Foo Fighters are my favorite band of the past 20 years, and Dave Grohl is one of my heroes. These guys always acknowledge their inspirations, and this version of “Rock and Roll” kicks my ass every time!)