Who Decides What Rock Is "Classic Rock?"

Categories: Classic Rock

Are you prepared to get the Led out? Again? Again? Again?
Not everyone has the luxury of having an auxiliary jack in their car stereo. With the amount of leaks, holes, and weird noises coming from my engine, I'm lucky my beat-up truck still runs period. I can't be asking for a decent stereo. So my commuting music consists entirely of FM radio, which is still pretty nice, if purely for the serendipitous element. Rather than fiddling with my iPod at every red light, good songs just occur naturally. I like not having control over my life for one second of every day.

But radio isn't exactly in its prime these days, and the more I listen, the more I get confused by particular radio formats. For example, what exactly is "classic rock"? I often ask myself this, but I don't exactly have an answer. So I tried to find out. It led to deeper questions like "What ISN'T classic rock?" and "What is music supposed to be for, anyway?"

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A little poking around on Wikipedia revealed that Sandusky Radio owns KDKB 93.3 (billed as "everything that rocks"), KSLX 100.7 (billed as "the classic rock station"), and KUPD 97.9 (billed as "Arizona's real rock.") There are few, if any crossovers, between the three stations because they all appeal to different audiences. There are plenty of other points on your FM dial to find rock, including the wonderful KOOL 94.5 and KWSS 106.7, but they're more varied and not strictly rock or classic. Aside from the mysterious and sometimes spotty-reception wise KCDX 103.1, it appears Sandusky has somewhat of a monopoly on "rock" in the Valley, don't they?

I will use KSLX as an example, because they're the most popular "classic rock" station (actually, they're the only one) in the Valley and I've been listening to it since I first heard "American Pie" back in 1996. Nowadays, 100.7 will often play a Nirvana or Red Hot Chili Peppers track, admittedly choosing from the most tame and overplayed songs in either '90s bands discography. At first this seemed strange, then I remembered these bands are 20-plus years old. Does that deem them "classic" now?

The Velvet Underground: Not classic rock?
Okay, so why don't they play Brian Jonestown Massacre or Neutral Milk Hotel cuts? Where's Joy Division or Orange Juice or the Pixies, My Bloody Valentine? These bands are all as old -- or older -- than Nirvana, and their influence is widespread. The most glaring omission is, of course, actually '60s bands, like The Velvet Underground and the 13th Floor Elevators. I believe they'd fit in nicely with the station's sonic aesthetic. (Editor's note: You'll occasionally hear VU on KCDX 103.1.)

If your response is that these bands aren't mainstream enough, please, strangle yourself with cassette tape. Lou Reed isn't obscure. The truth is, Nevermind just celebrated its 20th anniversary and it became a huge media circus. That's why it gets to be categorized as classic rock. Why I have to hear "Werewolves of London" or "Cat's In The Cradle" so many fucking times over "Venus in Furs" or "Atmosphere" is irritating.

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