If there is to be only one song from Loaded, it has got to be “Rock & Roll.” I’m not saying that it is better than “Sweet Jane.” It’s just that “Sweet Jane” has been so overdone, that I’m kind of bored by it. I still think that the version on Loaded is by far the best. But I’m getting sidetracked.
“Rock & Roll” tells what was apparently a common experience of people living far outside the “big city” hearing rock & roll (or jazz or just about any other kind of music you can think of) and having an epiphany. Life wasn’t constrained the way they grew up thinking. People of my generation had no such experience. Yes, occasionally a great little radio station would turn up. While still in high school, Will discovered KSAN right at the end of its existence. But it wasn’t a mind blowing experience.
But I’m not nearly as excited about much of the rest of the album. I don’t know what “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” is all about. In fact, it’s one of those albums where one side is just great and the other kind of meh. I am kind of amazed to see that pretty much every rock critic around today thinks that everything the Velvet Underground did was a classic. The quality of their work varied widely. And if I have to listen to “Train Coming Round the Bend” one more time, I think I’ll just kill myself.
But “Rock & Roll” really is a great song and this is a great performance of it: