Jann says he wants an evolution

Young Me says:


Rolling Stone is pop.  It is glossy, clean, perfect, and so not rock ‘n’ roll.


The October 30 issue with Barack Obama on the cover starts a new era for the magazine.  It is now standard-sized.  But it is better to say, it’s just standard.


In the Editor’s Notes, Jann S. Wenner writes, “Not change for the sake of change, but change as evolution and growth and renewal….”


Change as evolution is appropriate.  Rolling Stone evolved into every other magazine on the rack.  To fix its flaws it converted to the common model of Blender, Spin, Maxim, Esquire, GQ, Cosmo, and hundreds of other magazines.  It is a reversion to the typical.


Wenner mentions the only reason not to change was nostalgia.  I disagree.  Looking and feeling different from other magazines has value.  Before, it was its own unique entity.  Now, it is normalized. 


When paging through the newly formatted magazine, I thought of Roger Waters:  All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall.


The magazine is following the path of rock ‘n’ roll. 

It is not about rebellion anymore.  It is about conforming to appeal, and appealing to sell to the largest audience possible.


Old Me says:


The change is warranted.


The magazine had been in a large format for my entire life, so I am familiar with some of the problems that accompanied the old magazine. 


It didn’t travel well because of its size.  It was easy to tear because of the thin pages.  After a week, the cover would fall off.  It was not compatible with gym ellipticals because the pages were too big and floppy. 


And changing the dimensions will not mess with the mystique of the cover.  The photographic style of rocker portraits and singer-songwriter close-ups is too unique and the reputation of the magazine is too massive.  The Barack Obama cover continues the established look that the magazine has crafted over its lifespan. 


The paper quality is better and there are more pages for articles.  Rolling Stone will still set the music magazine standard with its in-depth features like “The Lost Years & Last Days of David Foster Wallace,” and its obscure rock reporting, like what is in Ryan Adams’ music collection.  It has the same soul and the same purpose of exposing and promoting rock ‘n’ roll to a mass audience.  It is just packaged in a different, standardized way now.


David Bowie warns:



Turn and face the strange changes


Oh, look out you rock ‘n’ rollers


Turn and face the strange changes


Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older


He was right.  Change happens, maturing is inevitable.


Roll with it. 


–Justin Cox



1 Response to “Jann says he wants an evolution”

  1. 1 Anuya November 11, 2008 at 12:08 am

    I like your critique a lot, it was so different from the rest, it immediately grabbed my attention. (Just like Rolling Stone’s old size used to, but hey, like you said, I’m trying to roll with it.)

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