Rockers Don’t Need No Stinking Badges!

by Kevin Burton

   “Songs That Rock” is a Facebook page that I really enjoy. You should check it out if you like rock music. But there is one thing they do that I don’t get.

   They have a lot of posts about old music, do you remember this or that, or which song from a certain year do you like best.  I make a lot of comments on these posts.

   For example, once I made the case for “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney being the best love song of the rock and roll era.  I thought that would be an unconventional choice, but I noticed a few people agreed with me. 

   Today the page asked people to name any song that references outer space. I answered “Rocketman” by Elton John. 

   But every once in a while Songs That Rock sends me a message: “You’ve earned a top fan badge!”

   ‘As one of the most active people on Songs That Rock, you can now display a top fan badge by your name on the page,” it reads.

   “By displaying your badge, Songs That Rock and others who visit the page can more easily see your comments.”  I just got this message again today.

   Well I haven’t noticed people having trouble seeing my posts.  I wonder if this means my comments would be kept near the top.

   The first time I got that message I thought “wait a minute, that’s not a very rock and roll kind of thing to do is it? Getting a badge?”

   I mean isn’t rock and roll at least in part, about not accepting the “badges” society chooses to hand out to the “good people,” the conformists, the squares?

   I imagined Tom Petty stopping by to see me, saying “Hey man, I see you got your badge. So cool! Did you get some ribbons too?”

   I imagined Jackson Browne snickering.

   So I have not accepted the badge. 

   I haven’t noticed any badges next to other people’s names on the site either. Maybe it’s the kind of thing I can only see if I accept my badge?  Maybe it’s a club insider thing, like Jeep drivers honking at each other. 

   Once I worded a “badges aren’t rock and roll” Facebook post and of course it got blocked. Censorship isn’t very rock and roll either.

   Of course by writing this blog post I have opened the box containing the question, just what is rock and roll anyway?  I will now quickly close that box. 

   It’s a glorious question, fun to explore, but totally unanswerable.   

   When Eric Clapton sings “I’ve got a rock and roll heart,” you know what he means without hammering out a definition. If you chose to pursue a definition, starting with the lyrics of that song, at some length you would come up with his definition. 

   His definition of rock and roll wouldn’t be mine, or perhaps yours.

   I am a rock and roller of the “think for yourself” camp but not of the “trash a hotel room” camp. It’s an individual thing.

   I’ve often thought of baseball as not so much a game, but as a place, a place where I belong.  If I’m passing a half hour with you waiting to board a plane, we can talk baseball because even though I haven’t met you before, you know all the same people I know in that place where we belong.

   I am starting to think of music in that way too.  But there’s got to be some attitude behind rock and roll. A badge would take away from that.  

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