Let There be Rock!
My journey through music as a 30 something Black woman has thus far taken the expected path. I went to my first concert when I was 12; I saw The Boyz at the Ohio State Fair. I saw Shaba Ranks in Ghana when I was 16. Somewhere in between, I saw Public Enemy in concert and saw India Arie in London. Thanks to my father, there has been a smattering of Queen/The Police/Blondie in my music mix, but that’s as about as “adventurous” as it got. But this week – this week I discovered AC/DC. Sweet heavenly mercy…what have I been missing all these years?
My exposure to any sort of rock has been pretty tame. In the early 2000s, I was on the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Staind, buzz ballads band wagon like a few other Black people on the fringes. In fact, my buddy Mike was kind enough to take me to my first “rock” concert about 8 years ago. We went to see the White Stripes at Stone Mountain Park. I was one of 3 Black people there – I swear – and I think I as the ONLY Black female. I stood out like a Zulu basket weaver in medieval London. But gosh what fun…and what liberty! Mike’s friend (whose name TOTALLY escapes me) met us in the parking lot and was in a very “good mood” when we joined him. He shook my hand enthusiastically, informed me that he liked my dreads (I was wearing box braids) and rolled his cooler full of beer to the greens where the stage was. Then he rolled a blunt. The biggest blunt I have ever seen; the volume of which contained enough green that it could have been considered intent to distribute if the police had bothered to weigh it. But the cops didn’t. Plain clothes officers were all over the place and looked the other way as Mike’s friend gleefully passed his weed filled sub sandwich to other rock revelers. I don’t recall any acts leading up to the Stripes, just lots of beer and whatever the DJ was playing. Jack White announced the band’s presence by screaming “I smell a rat!!”. White people went running and jumping everywhere. By the time they got to Seven Nation Army my Caucasian compatriots were even sweatier and more ecstatic than before. I liked the White Stripes, but I didn’t get the pure euphoria of the whole experience.
Now I do.
AC/DC is frikkin’ amazing. My introduction to the band came via the song Back in Black after which I quickly got on Pandora to create a playlist. And that’s when I heard it. The song that was a command from the Scriptures of Rock: Let there be Rock!
Suddenly, everything in the rock world made sense.
Will Ferrell in tighty whities.
Sweaty 20-something year old boys in mosh pits.
Linkin Park’s penchant for angst.
All the images of the rock n’ roll world that I hitherto found somewhat repugnant made perfect sense. When your world consists of manicured lawns, Ivy League education and the occasional trip to Sea World, you need an outlet so belligerent that it sets your world in balance. And that balance is ROCK. Impure, unadulterated, nasty, sweaty rock.
Readers, please don’t tell anyone about my underground indulgence. It will ruin my street cred. Chicks with afro puffs and Linnard Skynnard go together like baking soda and vinegar… Or like abolitionists and the Confederacy.