Whenever I hear The Who on the radio, I expect a car commercial. Whenever I hear the Rolling Stones, a TV commercial. Make it stop!
It's beginning to get a bit out of hand. That TV-mag-rag Entertainment Tonight has apparently appropriated the Pete Townshend catalog and feels the overwhelming need to tease all of their "exciting" stories behind the stars with a 1960s or 1970s rock-your-socks off sing-a-long performed by The Who.
Lingerie peddler Victoria Secret has copped a Rolling Stones tune to push panties.
With a major television network seeping in over my airwaves the other night, I heard the old familiar tinkling piano opening of the Stones' "Monkey Man." I looked across the room to see scantily clad women writhing to the build-up of the song that includes lyrics such as "I always have an unmade bed/Don't you?"
In the next ad, a computer company copped a Cars song to sell software.
When did classic rock become a vehicle for commercialism?
Weren't all of the songs of this era about rebellion, anti-establishmentism and pushing the envelope of what middle America, and Britain, would tolerate?
Now, and not so all-of-the-sudden, Baba O'Riley the "teenage wasteland" song mind you?is supposed to make you want to buy a Lexus or a Volkswagen, or whatever it is. Somehow shopping for a car just doesn't come to mind when I hear "Out here in the fields/ I fight for my meals."
But music has been used in ads since the dawn of radio and especially TV.
The difference is that the jingles, as we they were known back in the early days, were written by house musicians hired to come up with catchy tunes that related to the products they were supposed to help sell.
Now, what we have is marketing executives employing the "nostalgic" power of classic rock to help push across a mentality they hope today's buyers can better relate to.
All of the songs I've referenced so far came before my generation (that's not a pun) but I at least recognize their ability to bring listeners back to when they were fresh and times were different. But I wonder how it makes people of that generation feel.
The thing is, I can see a day when the songs of my generation will be used to sell me new cars and laundry detergent. Ten years from now, is the Blur song "Boys and Girls" going to push perfume that can be used by both genders?
Are we going to be bombarded with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hocking mouthwash?
I don't want my CD collection turning into an ad for stuff in my pantry or in my driveway. I hope that every time I hear "Supersonic" five years from now, I don't have to think about hamburgers or motorcycles or God forbid, a major airline.
If we don't stop the appropriation of the past for purely commercial purposes, we are doomed to associate the SoundGarden song "Spoonman" with canned pasta or freeze-dried soup.
The Who, in the spirit of the times I guess, did record a self-reflexive album of one-off jingles titled "The Who Sell Out."
The cover included a picture of singer Roger Daltrey in tub full of Heinz beans and drummer, the late Keith Moon, applying an abundance of acne cream.
Maybe they were just ahead of their time or maybe it was just a prophecy of what was to come. I don't blame them, but it sure is a shame.
Michael Davis covers government for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at email@example.com .