What Makes Classic Rock So Classic?

If you love classic rock — and if you’re here, we bet you do — there are quite a few reasons why you might not be able to stop listening to it. For most people, it goes beyond just enjoying it; it’s simply a part of who they are.

If you’ve never wanted to analyze why you’re so interested in some of the best music ever written, you might want to stop reading now and head over to buy a Caribou Ranch t-shirt. But if you want to think a little bit about why classic rock might be so dear to your heart, keep reading. We bet you’ll relate to quite a few of these.

Your Age

Let’s be honest, just about everyone thinks that the music they grew up on is the best. People who were 16 when Nirvana came out just can’t seem to let go of Grunge. If you were walking about the mall in 1985, you probably love Thompson Twins and A Flock of Seagulls. A person’s formative years, those years when they’re creating a personality that will stick with them in some way for the rest of their lives, brings music that’s hard to shake off. 

If you grew up during the decades when Caribou Ranch was in its heyday, you were probably listening to many of the artists we recorded here such as Joe Walsh, Chicago, Peter Frampton, Rod Stewart, and Earth, Wind, & Fire. These artists no doubt made an impression on you, and the songs of theirs you hear on the radio probably take you back in time pretty quickly. From a psychological standpoint, most people who grew up on classic rock are reminded of a time when they had considerably fewer responsibilities. 

Of course, it’s not just those who are reaching 60 or 70 who are truly enjoying classic rock in all of its glory. Young people are listening to it in droves, thanks to the over-digitalization of today’s music and the revival of vinyl. They simply recognize the quality, as well as the ways some modern music is failing.

Your Interest In Analog Complexity

We’re not going to sit here and argue the age-old debate about, “which sounds better, analog or digital?” (We all know the answer is analog, so why belabor the point?) But we will mention the incredible amount of work that used to go into producing a classic rock album on tape. 

Most of you probably saw the craziness that Queen went through in the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, playing instruments in unconventional ways, introducing intentional feedback, and layering multiple tracks in order to find something new. It’s used to be hard work to come up with new and inventive ways to create sounds that no one had ever heard before.

Today, of course, digital filters can do everything a 1970s band could do with a touch of a button. Unfortunately, that ease has lead to the overuse of every filter that’s ever been invented. You’re not hearing anything new, just rehashes of everything that’s ever been done before. Think about it, when’s the last time you heard something in music that really wowed you? It’s probably been a while. On the other hand, as many times as you hear the wonders of modern rock, you can still appreciate the hard work and complexity it took to make something new.

You Love The Sound

Again, this isn’t an argument about the final media on which you consume your music, or the way it was originally recorded. This is about the imperfections you can hear in the music of classic rock, all of that stuff that digital recordings can take out. Singers aren’t perfect, so their voice might waver a bit. (Freddie Mercury might have been the best rock singer ever, but his voice wasn’t 100-percent on-pitch even final recordings. His “finding” the pitch in the moment was part of the charm.) Guitar strings make noise as chords are changed, and you shouldn’t really care because that’s real life! Who wants “Helter Skelter” without “I’ve got blisters on my fingers?” 

All of these “mistakes” that you hear in music make classic rock music more real, more alive. Digitally created music can create a disconnect between you and the artist and from the music itself when it removes the imperfections. And sure, we’ll rail on autotune for giving us singers that aren’t nearly as talented — or don’t work quite as hard — to get the final track right. Which brings us to...

The Artists

We’re not going to be old fogies and suggest that all of the best rock musicians have already come and gone, and that this new music today is horrible. There’s some really good music out there and inventive stuff is being done, and while it might not measure up to classic rock as a whole, it’s always fun to find new musicians...especially those you “discovered” yourself before they played on the radio.

But we will say that the musical talent pool is too often filled with people who are groomed to be performers more than they are musicians. They might be chosen because they have a “look,” or they’re a great dancer, or they’ve really got a music video director who can make them pop. Too few of them are writing their own music and performing their instruments.  

Here’s an example: If an artist today writes their own music, it’s a surprise. If you hear Lady Gaga wrote the song herself and actually plays the piano, it’s news. We will be old fogies when we say that too much music is being written by one person and performed by another, and that the performer’s musical abilities might not go beyond simply carrying a tune. (Okay, here’s where you say that one of our most famous guests at Caribou Ranch, Elton John, didn’t write his own songs. True, he didn’t write his own lyrics, but he certainly wrote the music most of the time. Plus you can’t deny the man can rock the piano!)

It Never Gets Old

We might get older, but it seems that classic rock just never does. There’s simply something about it that sticks with anyone who hears it, because, like we mentioned above, the quality of the recordings and the talent of the musicians shines through. It’s going to be around for as long as there’s music, and that’s just fine with us.

Be A Part of Our History

The Caribou Ranch studio is incredibly proud of our classic rock roots, and we’re still excited about the albums we recorded here over the decades. While the studio might be gone, the songs produced here still live on after all this time, a part of rock history that will never go away.

If you want to be a part of that, we invite you to check out the t-shirts and apparel we sell that honors the traditions started at our recording studio. Click that link to join the latest part of classic rock history!


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