Music and religion go hand in hand. Maybe it’s on a dance floor, moving to syncopated drums around a campfire or locked in your room transported by the sounds flowing from your headphones. At some point, you’ve probably had a religious experience that was fueled by music. No genre has exemplified the ecstatic power of music as rock ‘n’ roll. From Chuck Berry to The Beatles to The Ramones to The Cure to Green Day, rock music feeds our soul.
It’s no surprise then that Christopher Knowles was able to trace the roots of rock ‘n’ roll back to the ancient mystery cults in his latest book: The Secret History of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He manages to capture the fascination and religious fervor that rock ‘n’ roll can inspire. Knowles manages to be both educational and juicy as he explores ancient cults and their counterparts in modern music.
If this book is anything, it’s fun. The book has the indulgent, gossipy feel of a celebrity mag, only the information is solid and the celebrities are the Gods and rock musicians of renown. I have danced around a fire late at night and felt the ancient frenzy, the opening unto mystery and reading Knowles makes me grin from recognition. I’ve never participated in anything nearly as wild as a Bacchanal, but then you can’t believe everything you hear. Malicious people have said the most astounding things about us, so when I read about the Maenads performing human sacrifice or tearing wild animals limb from limb I consider the source.
The first section of the book travels through the religious mystery traditions through history. The second focuses on modern rock artists divided into archetypal groups. We’ll be going through the book by groups of musical archetypes and discussing the ancient mysteries along the way.
How do these artists exemplify Apollo, the original “golden god”?
I was really amazed at how sunny these artists are as I played their music. My one reservation was Bob Dylan, who I tend to think of as being darker, but I think can see the “golden boy” status conferred on him.
I think Elton John may be the epitome of the Apollonian rock gods. He’s meticulous, passionate and as golden and glitzy as it gets without being feminine. What do you think?
Here are videos of the Apollo artists: