Don’t waste rock ‘n roll on forgettable television commercials

Published 6:02 pm Wednesday, October 23, 2019

My rock n’ roll memories are returning.

The source of this remembrance is not PBS and not programming on the entertainment channel AXS. It’s coming from commercials.

I’ve written before how companies have spiced their television commercials with music and golden oldies from the past, and how political parties are pulling rock songs for their rallies.

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I’ve also talked about the poor, apparently uneducated and misinformed musical choices of the Republican Party choosing an anti-war song, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which Mick Jagger described as a song about looking to buy drugs in the London suburb of Chelsea.

What renewed my interest in writing about this topic is a recent Volkswagen commercial that used the Vogues’ “Turn Around Look at Me,” which shows a young man apparently on his way to texter’s leap reading something on his smartphone. The commercial demonstrates the car’s rear emergency stop warning, making the car stop before the boy is run over. Another Volkswagen commercial used the line, “Pleased to meet you, won’t you guess my name?” from the Rolling Stones song, “Sympathy for the Devil” to introduce a car.

A drug to help, I believe, people with COPD, makes use of a take-off on the Jackson Five song, “ABC 123,” in its ad.

Several years ago, a commercial for another drug used a line from the Joe Cocker song, “Feelin’ Alright.” It didn’t include the second line, “I’m not feelin’ too good myself.” About that same time, another drug ad featured part of a line from the Beatle’s song, “Getting Better” — “I have to admit it’s getting better.” It didn’t follow up with the chorus, “Can’t get no worse.”

When I was a child of the 50s and 60s, rock music was looked down on by many of the older generations of the time who saw it as an evil destined to be the ruin of the younger generation. Many a teenager living in the late 50s and 60s were told by their parents to “turn that crap down!” And many of us who have lived in that period and swore we’d never say that to our kids use the same phrase when our offspring play their music loud enough so their friends in Biloxi can hear it.

My generation grew up with the twang of the electric guitar pouring through the amplifiers at high school and summer dances, the pagan beat of the drums and the pulse of the bass. I guess then it’s only natural that those of us who entered the fields of marketing and advertising would return to the music of their youth to sell goods and services.

It was written many years ago in song and teenage movie scripts from my younger years that rock n’ roll was here to stay. Those lines were right, but for some reason, the introduction of rock in commercials seems wrong.

Rock is something to enjoy; it’s wasted on commercials we end up ignoring.


John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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