With the death of Charlie Watts, which occurred as I sit on my self-assigned Rolling Stones essay, which will require reevaluation and reformulation of many statements due to this event, the mind games in the social media have shifted to the question of whether the band will continue to give concerts under these sad circumstances or announce a terminal career end.
Charlie Watts’ departure has finally brought home to all involved, fellow musicians, friends and fans how little this long journey through the history of rock music was taken for granted. Even if the remaining musicians came to the conclusion to continue, they would act like their own tribute band, like a reminiscence of something that is no more and was more than the sum of its parts, depending on every factor. It would become clear how stylistically formative Charlie Watt’s drumming was for this band, and thus how indispensable his contribution. If his successor were to take his place through complete mimicry, the effect would be alienating, undignified and disrespectful; if, on the other hand, he were to bring his identity as a musician into the Rolling Stones cosmos, it would be the transformation of the band into a new different identity. The Rolling Stones would have ceased to exist. The musicians themselves have expressed this assessment several times. However, given the reality of Charlie Watts’ death, it will now become clear to all that what was always interpretable as a hymn of praise for the drummer was in fact the bitter seriousness of an assessment that is now coming true. His death has become the final chord.
With the end of the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world, but also ends the history of rock itself, as we have known it, understood it and lived with it. One would perhaps say today that the narrative “rock” has lost its meaning, its reference points. The stories of the love-hate relationship between the good ROCK and the bad POP, nobody understands anymore. In the age of multiple egos and identities, of manic gendering and the omnipresence of political correctness hysteria, the naiveté of our concept of authenticity, with which we set out in search of true music, is revealed. Rock once meant liberating speech on the subject of sexuality, among other things, liberating life plans from the imposition of correctness. Today, demanding correctness is the business of the ideological henchmen of countless subcultures. The concept of rock has become obsolete in these lifestyles. Rock music developed parallel to our biographies, grew up with us and became old and, for outsiders, a bit whimsical. In the end it was only a common memory, almost something like a secret knowledge with which we annoyed the younger ones. This gleam in our eyes has now finally given way to sadness and the confession that has been wanting to go out into the world for some time: it’s over. Over. Over and done with.
Of course there will be a time after the Rolling Stones. It has actually already started a long time ago. Of course there will still be music, electric guitars will cut the air, evil romantics will sing their tender or passionate messages, and even the devil will haunt some songs, but a song will be just one offering among many competing offerings. And isn’t it true that today the consensual conversation among peers about vegan food creates more generational cohesion than any music.
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