Rock Never Dies

Rock Never Dies

Sixties rock finds new fans among today's students

By Brendan Sullivan '06 | Photos by Fred Field

It's a Thursday night at the campus pub and students are sifting through the new CD jukebox's selections—Led Zeppelin, Chicago, The Beatles. Eventually they decide on a track by Bob Seger, perhaps most famous for his lyric, "I reminisce about the days of old/ With that old time rock and roll.—

It may be old, but that old-time rock and roll still plays on campuses today. Indeed, the Blue Light Pub was packed that night with students born nearly 20 years after this music was first released. "You can't point at a time with better music, definitely not today,— Jack Sisson '06 hollered over the strains of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son,— an anti-Vietnam War song released in 1969.

Alumni from the 1960s and 1970s returning to campus today would find that some things have changed but that much of the music that college students enjoy today was the soundtrack of a previous generation. "I have had students come by and talk to me with incredible, detailed knowledge, as only a fan would know, about rock in the late Sixties,— said Bernhard Professor of Music Paul Machlin. "They knew the careers of the individual musicians and who had soloed at what point in each song. And I'm just sitting there astonished.—

Instead of rejecting their parents' music as did past generations, today's Colby students are embracing it. Over the din of treadmills, stationary bikes, and clanking dumbbells during a busy afternoon at the Alfond Athletic Center, Jimi Hendrix's "Fire— blasts through the wall-mounted speakers. In his West Quad triple decorated with Jim Morrison mug shots and concert playbills ("Bob Dylan Live in Greenwich Village 1960— and "The Grateful Dead Live in Golden Gate Park 1972—), Mark Biggar '07 plays vintage Dead tunes.

Off campus, six senior girls residing in Waterville gather around one of their two record players trading off selected cuts from their favorite vinyl LPs: Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, and The Beatles' Let It Be.
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  • On September 7, 2006, Erin Ryan wrote:
    I have a fourteen year old son who we just took to see his first rock concert, John Fogerty! My son knows more about classic rock and roll than my husband and I ever did. He is in his first year of high school and is starting his own band. It is great to see him listening to this music. He has also learned so much about the time period we middle agers grew up in! Great rock and roll never dies!

  • On September 7, 2006, Chris Crandall wrote:
    I loved the idea of this article and was interviewed by Brendan as a part of the 60s Colby band, Love Equation. My 16-year old son has always enjoyed the music of the 60s, but he is equally involved in current music. He hands me his Ipod earphones whenever he has a song he thinks I'll like, and he's usually right. I'll hear something on the Seattle alternative radio station (KEXP) and download it for him. That cross-generational music sharing has been, for us, an important way to stay in touch. And at 57, it's fun to know more current music than 90% of friends my age. I remember my dad buying me one of the first Moody Blues albums before I had heard of them (he was and still is at 86 very music-cool), so I have tried to keep up that tradition. Current alternative music is different than ours, of course, and frequently innovative (take the Magnetic Fields or Radiohead). On a separate note, the Love Equation performed at a couple of reunions recently and were lucky to have two generations of performers -- Vic Pinansky, who started the band in the 60s and son Marc, who recently graduated from Colby. Music sharing at its best.

  • On September 13, 2006, A. Vaughn Tolle wrote:
    As one who is familiar with 60s rock, as I was there, I commend the photographer for finding and arranging the album covers illustrating the story. Looking at them brought back memories of listening to Janis Joplin, with Big Brother and the Holding Company, tear into "Ball and Chain" while visiting a campus hot spot my Freshman year in college; and the Moody Blues doing "Timothy Leary's Dead" in my scholarship hall room. Great memories of great rock and roll. The magazine cover captures the album covers of the era; like the artist, I was there!