Henry Rollins: The Column! Rebelling in Sweet Home Alabama
Without music, surviving high school for many of us would have been impossible. At this point, it hardly matters which bands or artists got you through those sometimes absolutely dreadful years. As long as you had the jams, you stood a chance. Adolescence is a plague on the senses. One of the only things that makes sense in those years of frenzy and uncertainty is the music that speaks to you.
The question is sometimes asked: Can music start a revolution? I always thought if the songs of Bob Dylan and Bob Marley weren't enough, then no, not on a large scale. Perhaps the question needs to be phrased differently. Can music start a revolution of thought and practice? Does music have the ability to change the way one looks at oneself and the world?
With the power vested in me by Joe Strummer, I say yes. That music can inspire and increase the stamina to sustain a "revolution of the mind" is an absolute. That's why Beatles records were burned. That's why Elvis Presley was censored on television. Rock & roll drove J. Edgar Hoover crazy. Jazz was drug music, the players and the audience were undesirable outsiders. Cool.
Music provided so many of us with an opportunity to separate ourselves from our parents, peers we felt nothing in common with and the establishment where antipathy was going in both directions. Our soundtrack was always better than theirs. Jimi Hendrix put it nicely in his song "If Six Was Nine":
White-collar conservatives flashing down the street
Pointing their plastic finger at me
Hoping soon my kind will drop and die,
But I'm gonna wave my freak flag high