There’s a sub-genre inside of rock music consisting of songs that suggest the cure for what ails us in life is rock music. You know those tunes. Having a bad day? Crank up the radio! Heartbroken? Lose yourself in the music. Broke? You always got rock ‘n’ roll, kiddo! Tired, homeless, and left for dead after being mugged by a gang of gamma-infused yuppies? Raise a fist and and let your frustrations roll away with some righteous rock. In the end, as long as there is rock, then it’s all going to be OK. Some real rock classics belong in this sub-genre: Def Leppard’s “Let’s Get Rocked”, White Lion’s “All You Need Is Rock ‘n’ Roll” (it’s a lesser-known track, but worthy of more recognition), Triumph’s “Magic Power” (which warrants its own post, but I didn’t want to steal thunder from later Triumph posts… stay tuned), Autograph’s “Turn up the Radio” (their liner notes left off Yoda in the song-writing credits, but his contributions are hard to miss), Argent’s “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You” (KISS did a bang-up remake in the ’90s), even Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock“.
No band, though, has placed their redemptive faith in rock ‘n’ roll like Boston, who gives two of the best songs to the
sub-genre: “Feelin’ Satisfied” and the song that made the band, “More Than a Feeling”. The latter sums the driving ideology of the sub-genre: music is transcendent and can change our perception of reality. Music elicits something from us, but it also informs us. It lends definition to our very beings. It helps us come to grips with our world. Where would we be without music? What might our lives be without music? Doesn’t music take us from one state of being to another–like from sadness to ecstasy? Boston believes so. They are living answers to Don McLean’s questions to America: “Do you believe in rock ‘n’ roll? And can music save your mortal soul?” Boston says, “yes!” Just look at their first album cover. The world is exploding, but civilization is safely carried away on the wings of rock. Music saves.
That may sound like an exaggeration. But let’s entertain, again, what music does to us–now through the lens of Boston’s 1976 classic, “More Than a Feeling”. The song begins with our narrator waking up to a familiar tune, a tune that takes him back in memory. He feels what he felt years ago, remembering faces he’d not seen in a long time. Haven’t you been transported through time by a song? Boston’s third album, Third Stage, provided catechesis to my pre-adolescense, instructing me on what it meant to be a man who righteously rocked. Listening to that album now rekindles feelings of summer days that lasted as long as I wished and moon-shot home runs hit with tennis balls into the neighbors’ yard. The music saved something of who I was. It’s preserved the sensation of 10-year-old me. “More Than a Feeling”‘s narrator feels that preservation, too–remembering the levity of the time before his Maryann walked away. There’s an innocence to all this. The narrator’s memories–and mine too–recall places and times when things seemed less messed up. We recall a time when we felt things were as they should have been: the narrator experiencing right relationship with Maryann, and me feeling a sense of fulfillment in youth. And isn’t this what all the songs of the “rock saves” sub-genre do? Don’t they all call for us to experience something simple and pure?
Why? Why do we long for simplicity and purity? [Warning: Jesus juke] Perhaps because we were imprinted to be simple and pure. Perhaps because our human destiny is to be restored in simplicity and purity. May rock remind us of the plan of the Divine: that humanity will know simplicity and purity–that we are destined to become holy, good, and free. That’s rockin’.
I’ll tell you something else:
don’t let your troubles get to you. ‘Cause win or lose it’s all right. Well take control–and nothing’s going to help you more than rock ‘n’ roll. [Boston’s “Feelin’ Satisfied”]
If music awakens in us an awareness for the Divine plan, then maybe Boston was right. It’s more than feelings. It’s Word.