What you are seeing in the picture above is my Christmas present to myself. Just in case you’re not aware of it, it’s made by Spotify and it’s called Car Thing. It is paper-thin, weighs nothing, and plugs into your cigarette lighter. And all it does is play Spotify. .
Now, you still need to jack your phone in. But once you figure out how the whole fucking thing sets up, then you get in your vehicle say fun things like “Hey, Spotify, play the blues,” or “Hey Spotify, bring up my playlists.” There are also a couple of buttons on the top and that big fancy dial but I’m not really sure what any of them do. I am not really out in the Porsche that much since I have spent most of the last two years hiding under my bed.*
Anyway, one day recently I asked it to play some tune and instead, it played Nineties rock. (BTW, I’m not 100% sure Spotify can’t do everything I’m saying without the gizmo. But for a mere $79 USD (€69), ain’t it pretty to look at?)
And I was listening to the tunes whilst driving somewhere and hoping I brought a mask with me I thought, fuck, these tunes are great. And they were all pretty mainstream and there were actual RADIO STATIONS that played them. And I thought to myself, this is the last great era of rock.
Now don’t just take my word for it. I saw Sonny Boy and I said to him, “Would you agree the Nineties were the last great era of rock?” “Sure,” he said. So there it is. Not just my opinion but an honest-to-God man-on-the-street scientific poll.
Let’s kick this six-pack off with the tune you see on the Thing, “Bombtrack,” by Rage Against the Machine. You already know that Rage kicks some mighty, mighty ass and this tune is no exception. Not only is it no exception, but it is also the very first tune off of their 1992 eponymous debut album.
And like “Good Times Bad Times” for Zep, it says – convincingly, loudly – Lock Your Daughters Up, We Have Arrived. They keep trying to induct this band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but they ain’t quite there yet:
I dug the Dave Matthews Band from the first time I saw them on Saturday Night Live. Actually, for reasons I can’t recall, my music-loving sister was staying over and we caught the show together and she dug them too. We’re a little estranged lately since I had to ask her to shut the fuck up when she dug into old family wounds for the millionth time.
Matthews has a station on Sirius which I dial up now and again. Despite that I don’t know how popular he is outside of his fan base these days but nevertheless, some of his early shit is really good.
Here’s “What Would You Say,” from his 1994 debut album, Under The Table and Dreaming. This is a pretty funky tune if you ask me:
In all this time, I can’t recall that I’ve done even one tune by Jane’s Addiction. Of the song “Been Caught Stealing,” Billboard – who apparently still write about music like it’s 1958 – said, “After a long and impressive reign at modern rock radio, cut from acclaimed band’s current set is well-poised to click at top 40.”
They went on to gush, “Trippy psychedelic rave-fueled with nifty acoustic and electric guitar trade-offs-kicks hard but doesn’t risk intimidating weak-at-heart mainstreamers.” I’ve come to understand that the generation that grew up with this tune hits the dance floor in three seconds when they hear it. (The dog was apparently a happy accident they decided to leave in).
I feel like I’ve been kinda remiss here thus far, over representing LA to the exclusion of Seattle. So let us say the following
THANK YOU SEATTLE.
Maybe the last great scene of the last great era of ROCK
And who better to represent than one of the finest. Nevermind is on just about every critic’s greatest album list and if you don’t know the name of the band I will give you this hint- it is the final beatitude that transcends suffering, karma, and samsara and is sought especially in Buddhism through the extinction of desire and individual consciousness.
You don’t hear this one often enough. “Breed.”
Sing this one along with me:
I sit around and watch the phone, but no one’s calling
Call me pathetic, call me what you will
My mother says to get a job
But she don’t like the one she’s got
When masturbation’s lost its fun
You’re fucking lonely
Green Day, of course, straight outta East Bay California. (Were there any East Coast bands in the Nineties? Just askin’**). When my son discovered music and then discovered my record collection, he was shocked to find Dookie there. He just figured dad was some old fart who sat on the couch, endlessly waiting for the Beatles to come back. Which, of course, has some merit.
This is “Longview.”
To round up this trip down memory lane – Jesus, it seems like the Nineties were yesterday – let’s go back to rainy Coffeeville, USA and listen to Pearl Jam. I can’t tell you anything about them you don’t already know.
*By Porsche I mean Hyundai. Your correspondent doesn’t make quite as much as he thought he would working the Fry-O-Lator down at McDonald’s at 11 pm.
**Right, Matthews is from Virginia. OK.