Remember the good old days, when wine clubs were exclusively the pastime of pretentious assholes/your parents? Those days are over: Rolling Stone magazine just announced its own scheme to sell bottles of fermented grape juice to baby boomers with nothing better to blow their pension checks on. So when rock 'n' roll finally goes to its grave, it will do so with purple-stained teeth.
Naturally, the club's bottles of Mendocino cab and merlot are swathed in the artwork of classic rock 'n' roll bands. The labels feature Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon cover, the Police's Synchronicity, and Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead icons. In this wine club, you can have your nostalgia and drink it, too!
It's not the beverage we have a problem with. We like wine. Especially wine from those celebrated vineyards north of San Francisco Bay. And we didn't much mind that our be-loathed Train bottles its own "Drops of Jupiter" wine -- because, well, we don't consider Train a rock band.
But this is Rolling Stone -- once the actual bible of the counterculture! Once the broadsheet for the freak nation, headquartered in San Francisco! Sure, the current version of the magazine survives by 1) endlessly repackaging '60s nostalgia (this issue's cover story celebrates the best guitarists of all time, the top five of which are all over the age of 66 or dead), or 2) covering its pages with bare, nubile flesh. But it's a cynical step from all of that to slapping revered art from bands who haven't had a hit in years on a bottle of wine -- just because they know that someone will buy it.
This is just another heavy dose of classic rock nostalgia, more rosy-eyed reminiscing, handily disguised by the everyone's-a-connoisseur world of wine consumption. Is this really all that's left to do with rock music? What will be the next nail in its coffin? We've already had 2010, the worst year (commercially) for rock since 1960. We've had the spot-on observation that "pop" and "rock" are no longer interchangeable (because the business of pop has less to do with rock than ever). We've had Simon Reynolds force us to realize just how obsessed with the past music (and especially rock) fans are. Now we're cutting up rock's treasured iconography to sells bottles that will shortly land in the recycle?
If it's going to survive, rock desperately needs something new and invigorating. Or it at least needs to celebrate the newer artists and sounds that are somewhat fresh and very invigorating. Rock needs something. It doesn't need a goddamn wine club.