Despite what the manic Derek and the Dominos fans who apparently frequent our comments section appear to think, we don’t set out to be deliberately iconoclastic here at Flavorpill. We have a healthy respect for the past — we just occasionally get sick of hearing about it, especially when it’s depicted as some sort of glowing cultural golden age that the present can never hope to rival. That said, there are certain aspects of rock ‘n’ roll history that we rather wish could be expunged once and for all, for a variety of reasons. So to start with, here are 10 classic rock staples that we’d be happy to never, ever hear again. What would you smite from AOR playlists once and for all if given the chance?
Eric Clapton — “I Shot the Sheriff”
Clapton’s cod reggae cover of Bob Marley’s classic is lame enough, but he’d add insult to injury two years after its release with his notorious 1976 on-stage rant about immigration (for which he’s never seen fit to apologize, by the way), in which, amongst other things, he proclaimed that “black wogs and coons … and Jamaicans, we don’t want them here.” How Clapton can manage to reconcile the fact that he’s made a fortune over the years playing the blues and the fact that he thinks it’s OK to say things like “England is for white people, man … we are a white country” is a question only he can answer. Whatever the case, we’ll be happy never to hear this again.
Creedence Clearwater Revival — “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
Marvin Gaye’s original? Yes. The Slits’ cover? Absolutely. This? No, no, no. It’s always been a mystery how this cover — which somehow managed to convert Gaye’s succinct, soulful original into an overwrought, drawn-out 11-minute dirge — managed to be so successful.
Blue Öyster Cult — “Don’t Fear the Reaper”
More cowbell, etc etc etc.
Pink Floyd — “Money”
We love Floyd as much as anyone, but if we have one more person tell us about how this is “the most recognizable bassline ever!,” we’ll throw something out the window. Also, the irony of this anti-materialist tirade being sung along to lustily by cashed-up graying baby boomers driving SUVs is not lost on us at all.
Deep Purple — “Smoke on the Water”
It’s not that this is a terrible song per se — but anyone who’s ever spent any time in a guitar shop will have heard the “duh duh duhhhh duh duh duh duhhhhhh” riff about a bazillion too many times already.
Joni Mitchell — “Big Yellow Taxi”
It’s something of an indictment on the ’60s and hippiedom in general that the closest thing it ever mustered to an environmental rallying cry was a discussion of those tiresome Hawaiians deciding to develop their land, thus ruining Joni Mitchell’s holiday. And if Mitchell’s oh-I’m-so-carefree laugh at the end of the song hasn’t started to grate on you after about the hundredth listen, well, you’re more even-tempered than us, put it that way.
Manfred Mann — “Blinded by the Light”
No, but really, what’s he singing in the chorus? Arggggghhhhhhhh.
John Lennon — “Imagine”
We’re of course not the first to observe that the line “imagine no possessions” sounds a bit rich coming from a rock star who had more money than most of us could dream of. But ultimately, while it’s easy to nitpick, we’re not finding fault with Lennon’s sentiments here. Our problem with this song is its ubiquity — it’s the ’70s’ answer to Jeff Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah” as the song to break out when a certain non-specific group-hugging sentimentality is required.
Lynyrd Skynyrd — “Sweet Home Alabama”
“I hope Neil Young will remember/ A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.” Yeah, Neil — take your anti-racist views back north of the Mason-Dixon Line!
The Eagles, generally
Ah yes, the kings of smug West Coast ’70s mediocrity. The Eagles made a career out of recording soft-rock bilge that made the Doors look profound and meaningful. And then, of course, there’s the fact that they were by all accounts thoroughly objectionable human beings. We’ll leave the final word to Don Henley, and his explanation as to how he ended up with a naked 16-year-old in his bedroom, later cited in Tom Hibbert’s epic Eagles takedown for Q in 1996: “I had no idea how old she was and I had no idea she was doing that many drugs. I didn’t have sex with her. Yes, she was a hooker. Yes, I called a madam. Yes, there were roadies and guys at my house. We were having a farewell to The Eagles.” Oh, that we could all do the same. Wave farewell to The Eagles, that is.