Sunday, August 03, 2008

"ZZ Top" Who?

Last night as I was thumbing through channels I heard this very cool guitar sound, so I stopped thumbing and saw: a guitar player and a bass player with long white beards and a wild-looking drummer generating pulsating music on a very large stage. I pushed the "info" button and found out I was watching MTV and the music-makers were called "ZZ Top". For the next 40 minutes I was mesmerized by their driving rhythms, their creative themes, and their showmanship. They were just plain fantastic and the huge crowd was going wild on every song.

Partway through this adventure I googled "ZZ Top" and found their "wiki" entry. It turns out they are the longest lived original rock band still performing with their original artists. Their first hit was in 1969, they've put out a plethora of albums since then, and the guitar player is regarded as one of the finest players around. I scratched my head...why didn't I know about these guys?

I am a music nut, and I'm not picky about genre. I'll never forget the first time I heard Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Pride and Joy" on the radio late one night, years ago - I had the CD the next day, months before he became a star. From Bach to country and jazz, I like all the good stuff that demonstrates real musicality. How could ZZ Top have escaped my ears?

Well, on reflection I realized that ZZ Top is considered "hard rock", a genre that I just couldn't handle. Every time I tuned in, it insulted my ears with harshness and my mind with lyrics I couldn't even decode. So I tuned out and in the process tuned out ZZ Top until last night.

This experience confirms to me that there is beauty in about every kind of music, including hard rock. I'm sorry I've been deprived of their talent all these years, but I'm also happy that I've now found it for the first time. Life is full of pleasant surprises!


Woozie said...

Everybody knows ZZ Top! What else would be considered hard rock? Done any more exploring of the genre lately?

ThomasLB said...

I think they consider themselves "electic blues." Their guitars are made from wood from Muddy Water's home.

I can't wait for the post where you discover The Beatles! ;)

Actually, I've had the same experience, "discovering" something that everyone else already knew about. It's always fun to find something new, even if it's only "new" to you.

Lifehiker said...

Now, now, Thomas! The Beatles are my generation. ZZ Top, however, came on the scene in 1969 when I was starting my CPA career and had a wife and two little kids. I listened to Three Dog Night; Blood, Sweat, & Tears; Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, etc. I even loved the jazz and classical interludes in Chicago's stuff. ZZ Top got lost with Metallica, etc.

Dave said...

Moody Blues?

Ron Davison said...

You hippie!
I love the idea of ZZ Top actually donning sun glasses and fake beards in which to perform and then taking them off to easily mingle with the crowd, but someone who lives near them in Texas says that they actually look like that all the time.
I think that certain genres simply have a higher probability of bad music, but you are so right - every genre has genius and genius generally thumbs its nose at genres, defying categorization.
But I do have one question: you found music on MTV? When I'm in hotels, it seems that MTV only broadcasts reality shows. Kudos to you for actually finding music on it.