Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It don't mean a thing...

...if it ain't got that swing.

This is one of those posts that laments the greatness of times past and the decline of today's youth culture.

Only this time I have a legitimate point.

Who swings in today's popular music world? Who's got that bouncy, off-beat rhythm that gets your fingers snapping, your body movin', and makes your soul want to dance? Where are those riffs and counterpoints? Where's that backbeat and behind-the-beat drumming? Where's that breezy attitude? Where's the SWING??

And I'm not really talking about Duke Ellington or Glenn Miller jazz. My preferred genre - blues/rock - can swing just like jazz, and Charlie Watts is the Master of rock swing. Keith Richards once stated for the record: "White drummers don't swing, except for Charlie Watts."

Chuck Berry played swing. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, not a swing band, played it brilliantly in "Sultans of Swing." (I saw him last weekend at the Greek in Berkeley). Brian Setzer, formerly of the Stray Cats, plays swing. Funk and cajun music, brilliantly performed by the Neville Brothers, swings.

But what contemporary artists are swingers? Not rap artists, not classic rock artists, not alternative grunge artists - no. All of their beats are manufactured drum loops and snare drums that sound like explosions.

David Matthews sometimes comes close, but he's too caught up with a band that has to rush the groove. Country music doesn't swing too much these days, unless you're listening to Alison Krauss & Union Station.

You've got to have a great drummer to swing. Classic rock greats (John Densmore of the Doors, Doug Clifford of Creedence Clearwater Revival) all had the jazz/swing sensibility that made the music take-off. Today's backbeats are manufactured by machines and just don't have the feel.

So my question remains: Where's the SWING? and what is this generation missing?