Even before Elvis Presley recorded his first album, rock had been pronounced dead and gone. For seven decades, the stream of contradictory statements has never run dry. For some rock must be discussed in the past tense, while for others its future remains bright. What do these views mean? What arguments are they based on? What do they tell us about our cultural practices and our relation to time? While the answers are not decisive, we can at least affirm, to paraphrase Frank Zappa, that if rock isn’t dead, it just smells funny.
Christophe Pirenne teaches music history and cultural politics at the Universities of Liège and Louvain-la-Neuve. In addition to his works on rock, he is also interested in Belgium’s musical life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium.