As time passes by, rock and roll continues to be shaped both as an art form and as a cultural phenomenon. Fans may be divided as to what direction this transformation is headed for to some it may be headed towards revitalization and evolution, while on the other side of the chasm are those who believe that it is leaning towards mediocrity brought about by the bad seeds birthed by their respective cultural and social transformations, straying farther from the roots of rock and roll as time passes by.
Does this mean that only those who believe that rock and roll is in a deteriorating state at this point of time are the only ones who have done their homework and thoroughly reviewed their history books? What about the others? Have they done their homework as well or do they just limit themselves to whatever is being fed to them today without knowing the whys and hows of their existence? The sad truth is that there are those, especially from the younger generation of fans who don't see where the music that they love comes from.
Today, it's probably easier for a young fan to be like, Yeah! This new Killswitch Engage CD kicks ass!! than for him to say Oh I love Sabbath, their stuff is really wicked!! Or another dude might love Trivium but think of Iron Maiden as old. Still another might praise Chris Cornell's vocal chops like it was revolutionary without knowing who Robert Plant is. Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with listening to new rock and roll songs the more you listen to it, the better, because in your own little way you contribute to the gradual shaping of rock and roll. There's nothing wrong with expressing your negative opinions on the music of today either, if done in a proper way. But by digging deeper into your music history archive, you would have a better understanding of the part of you that tells you that you dig this kind of music, as well as a better, more justifiable sense of either appreciation or loathing for it as it is.
While it may not be that much of a burden to the standard rock fan, tracing the roots of your music is as important to a musician as his instrumental skills and equipment. This does not apply only to rock musicians, but to musicians of whatever genre as well. It's important to plant in your head the mentality that as a musician, you're an artist as well, creating and sharing your art to an audience. Art is not created from out of nowhere; it is influenced by an artist's surroundings and experiences. That is why a musician certainly needs to listen to music more and more each day, getting himself introduced to the forefathers of his style of music, adding more and more artists to his influences list and later on drawing upon these influences to create his own brand of music. If a musician listens to a whole lot of music and counts them all in his influences, he might just come up with an interesting, maybe even revolutionary style that, in turn, could become influential for musicians of the future look at Sepultura's Roots album, or the music of The Mars Volta. It's like making a suspense film you have to watch films by Hitchcock or Scorsese to be influenced to make a suspense/thriller film that would live up to your vision of what you want to portray in your film, and if everything goes right, it just might be as heralded as that of your influences' works.
Think about it Slayer would not sound evil if they only listened to their peers in the Bay Area scene. They sound evil because they listened to Sabbath and played fast because they listened to Iron Maiden and Minor Threat. Metallica would not have such a fast and at the same time melodic twin guitar attack if they haven't listened to Priest and Motrhead. And the Ramones would not sound as catchy and simple as they are if not for the Beatles. Hell, none of these guys would be famous rockstars if they didn't listen to legends such as Zeppelin, Hendrix, Cream, The Who and The Rolling Stones in the first place.
Phil Anselmo made an interesting point when he stated that back then that bands take their ten most favorite artists and rip them all off, with them ending up finding their own style somewhere there, but nowadays, bands sound like they take their two most favorite artists and rip them all off, ending up in them becoming somewhat of a carbon copy of their idols. So if you're in a band and you find your guitarist sounding too generic, there are only two explanations: 1. Your guitarist lacked practice, and 2. Your guitarist didn't listen to enough music.
Trace the roots of your music to the earlier days, learn to appreciate it and you will find out why this kind of music epitomizes your personality as well as a better appreciation and critical view of the state of rock and roll today. If you listen enough, you'll find yourself heading in the direction of an artist, with your instrument and talent as your canvass and your broad range of musical influences as your palette of colors. Treat it like the importance of a guy learning about his native heritage. If you're a real rock and roll fan, you'd find the importance of learning about your rock and roll history too.