Is it Still Cool to be on the Cover of the Rolling Stone?

18 Jul

Rolling Stone is in the business to make money. They need to sell ads and get people to buy their magazines. And they know that provocative magazine covers sell. Founded in 1967 in San Francisco by Jann Wenner, it has been on the forefront of music and journalism for almost a half-century. They want to maintain their relevance, their importance in the national conversation. They want to be the voice and ultimate source for all things cool and relevant. That their reputation as a major marketer of mainstream entertainment may now transcend their bonafides as a publisher of cutting edge cultural critique makes  us wonder: Have their early days of music, peace, and love been replaced with music, peace, and money?

A treasured coveted piece of rock ‘n’ roll real estate. That’s how cool it is to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone. There’s even a song about it, the great Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s The Cover of the Rolling Stone. No other words have ever expressed better what that achievement really means:

Oh, we’re big rock singers. We got golden fingers. And we’re loved everywhere we go…We take all kinds of pills To give us all kind of thrills, But the thrill we’ve never known Is the thrill that’ll getcha When you get your picture On the cover of the Rolling Stone…Rolling Stone…Wanna see my picture on the cover. Rolling Stone… Wanna buy five copies for my Mother. Rolling Stone…Wanna see my smiling face On the cover of the Rolling Stone… But our minds won’t really get blown Like the blow that’ll getcha When you get your picture On the cover of the Rolling Stone.

What are we to make of the Rolling Stone August 2013 issue with the Boston bomber on the cover? Is it glamorizing terrorism as many think? The article inside written by Janet Reitman is a thoughtful account of who he was before his act and its devastating aftermath. In 1970, Charles Manson was on the cover. And the article won them a National Magazine Award. Is he getting “rock star” treatment? The cover of the September 1981 issue had a beautiful and still dead Jim Morrison. With an allure founded on a bad boy reputation of drinking, drugs, arrests, and riots. But he left us a legacy of evocative music that still has meaning.

We see rock star hair and a guarded direct gaze. What has he left us? Not anything good. His legacy is one of terror and victims. Is Rolling Stone making him a celebrity? They certainly have a controversial cover that may sell lots of issues. It’s getting a lot of media coverage. And it certainly has a lot of people talking. The question is: Is it still cool to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone?



The Cover of the Rolling Stone lyrics: Shel Silverstein

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