Monday, September 9, 2013

"Excuse me, young people. May I ask you to remove yourselves from my front yard? Thank you so much. Have a good day."

When I was still not yet a teenager, I had The Beatles and the Stones down cold. I knew every Ringo fill, Lennon harmony, Keith riff and Mick shimmy. I knew it and respected it as I made my way toward Mott The Hoople, Roxy Music, Yes, King Crimson and David Bowie, all while savoring the joys of AM radio staples like Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now," Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly," The Doobies' "Long Train Running" and of course, my own great collection of 45s that included The Turtles, The 4 Seasons and the Herman's Hermits, The Supremes, The Rascals and Marvin Gaye.

During that time, I went through a big band phase, as well. My cousin and I would listen to Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnett, Stan Kenton and Glenn Miller, and just get lost in the arrangements. Then, we'd take a break and listen to Genesis and T. Rex and "Hot Rats."

Of course, there were hours and hours of just Frank, Dean and Sammy, with essence of Bobby Darin for flavor.

What about Bob? Yep. Dylan had his place, too.

All of this took place before I reached high school.

I should point out that I had some of the greatest music lovers around me. Aunts & uncles, friends of uncles, cousins, friends of cousins, neighbors and grandparents, who at the time ranged in age from 25-60. These are people who also listened to The Beatles and the Stones and Top 40 radio while telling me, "Listen to "Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys. You'll dig it." Or, "Listen to Dion in between those two Yes albums." We didn't scoff at the Tijuana Brass. People who were then, the age I am now, enjoying the music that youngsters were listening to, as well as the music they embraced from their past.

Sure, not everyone was that open to the sounds of rock and roll. I had one Aunt who listened to Slim Whitman, Strauss waltzes and Bobby Vinton and believed the Beatles were the catalysts behind the Vietnam War. But for the most part, I was surrounded by people who understood good music. Age didn't matter.

That said, I am starting to really tire of the phrase "Hey you kids, get off my lawn!" when referencing any adult who voices disdain at today's popular music.

In the wake of the Robin Thicke/Miley Cyrus debacle, I've heard too many say, "Our parents were just as appalled at Elvis Presley." That may be true, but not mine. Not my grandparents either. Am I the exception? Well, yes, if you compare my life to the Cleavers. But after 20 years in music retail, not to mention all those hours prior as a consumer, everyone I knew, music lovers, were more like me. They had stories of growing up in households where their 50 year old parents had music playing all the time, and not just Andy Williams or Mantovani. My grandfather loved his music LOUD! At 70, he was listening to his favorites, The Drifters and  Dionne Warwick, country music especially. But he also truly dug "The White Album" and T. Rex's "The Slider." (That's right! He loved "Metal Guru.")

Miley and Thicke are an extreme, so let me take this into potentially dangerous waters for a moment.

Recently someone suggested a band called The Lone Bellow. Actually, a number of people I respect suggested this band. So I listened. And I liked it a bit. But not enough to finish the entire record. I found myself growing more impatient as the music played, and finally stopped it by track 6. I was bored. This is not about The Lone Bellow. Remove "The Lone Bellow" and insert any of a hundred bands or artists and the feeling remains the same. Good stuff. Not great. Good songs. Not great.

The bar gets lower and lower and lower.

Forget Top 40 and autotune and the lack of imagination and the completely offensive mechanics of the music business. The Mileys and Thickes and Ke$has are zits on the ass of the big picture. Even the bands and singer-songwriters we should pay attention to, the successful ones, just miss it most of the time. Yes, I'm getting older. Everyone is, except for the people running the show. The people responsible are getting younger and that is the problem. Ahmet Ertegun was almost 50 when he signed Led Zeppelin. Forget about targetting the audience. More work needs to be done on the target.

I may be cranky, but mostly about everything else in life. Music has always been the constant source of joy. There was never any skepticism when I listened to music growing up. Even on through the early 80's, I'd purchase a record with the highest of hopes, and if let down, I'd pick myself up, brush myself off and start all over again. Enter MTV, and we are. Now, I'm nothing but skeptical and in my defense, I listen all the time. I'm not one of those genuine "Get off my lawn" guys who thinks the last good Stones record was "Exile On Main Street" or has never listened to a hip hop record. I'm just convinced after 40 years of listening, today's 4-star records are yesterday's 2-star records.

It was better then.

Don't even get me started on yesterday's R&B versus today's R&B.

You don't have to get off my lawn. But while you're here, stop playing me.


ReelMusic said...


oldkdawg said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

I get accused of being a cranky old guy when it comes to music. My younger friends tell me to stop living in the past...there is still a lot of good music out there. And there is some...

As far as newer artists go I lean towards Americana (country/bluegrass/blues/roots/whatever) but I still am bugged that there are so few great records...great songs to be sure, but very few great records.

Every Mumford/Avett/Decemberists fan needs to go back and listen to those early Dylan and Band records, or Buffalo Springfield, or The Byrds, or Gram Parsons, or The Flying Burritio Brothers, or...well you see what I mean. It's been done and done better.

Anonymous said...

All of which goes to demonstrate that all positivistic notions of history and culture are misinformed. Human activity, art in particular, doesn't advance in a linear fashion. There are dead ends, backward steps, digressions. It is entirely conceivable that we've already heard the best rock or jazz or hip hop that will ever be produced. It's reality.

je said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jeff k said...

I agree that we just don't hear a lot of music that comes close to the height of rock n roll, which for me was 1969. Having said that, I hear an awful lot of really great music today just not those peaks, which are pretty damned high.

The interesting questions to me have always been, "Why not? What happened?"

I wish I was smart enough to answer that. Was it the high standards of the record companies? A 15-yeara a golden age that came and went? I just don't know. The good news is though is because of the Internet and the loosening of the reins that the record companies held so tightly, there is much more really good music today.

Spookywolffe said...

I've had a similar discussion recently with my wife in terms of remakes of old horror movies, but I think it applies. Yes, maybe the Avetts and Decemberists, etc., are rehashing something done before -- perhaps better -- but long dead bands aren't as palatable to a younger audience. There are exceptions of course, but if I were 18 and had the choice of hearing music by a current band of folks of my generation, a band that still tours and thrives, as opposed to music by long-expired bands, of COURSE I'm going to opt for the newer. When I was teenage in the mid-'80s, I was listening to Dio-Sabbath more than Ozzy-Sabbath, because the music was more of my era, newer. I saw a band last night, the Paris Thieves, their debut CD release party. Are their songs completely original? Is the sound brand new? No to either, but it was fresh and dynamic even to my old ears. Of course the sounds of our youth were better. They were OURS!! And today's world has theirs, and the kids on my lawn in Lumineers shirts are welcome to stay. At least it's not dubstep ;)

Anonymous said...

I think I'm in love!!

Seriously though, there is absolutely no comparison between Elvis swivelling his hips and somebody getting a fake hump on stage (yuck!) One aspect of the problem is that appalling behaviour by the intellectually lazy is fast becoming the new "norm". I guess it's meant to distract the morons out there from the inescapable fact that many of those at the top of the charts now are clearly bereft of talent and creativity!

Jonnie said...

Good rant, Sal. I may be old and cranky, but I still have an ear and even though some of the lyric writing is interesting, I find a lot of the bands today sound too "clean" and lacking in character & originality. I used to enjoy visiting NYCD and asking you or whoever was behind the counter that day about new sounds...a couple of hits that come to mind were Morphine and Fountains of Wayne; I know there were others. Miss that.

Shriner said...

" I'm just convinced after 40 years of listening, today's 4-star records are yesterday's 2-star records."

So, Sal, does that mean you think there *are* no 4-star records today?

And, by "today", where do you draw the line? Last 3 years? 7 years? 15 years?

I listen to probably too much new music and I would tend to agree that very few albums I listen to demand *immediate repeated listenings*. (The last two I can think off the top of my head of were the latest album by Throwback Suburbia and the Redd Kross reunion album -- OK and the Van Halen album, too -- but, so far, nothing released in 2013 has grabbed me that way…)

But, maybe I'm just listening to too much new music these days and I can't see the trees for the forest.

Sal Nunziato said...

No Shriner, of course 4-star records are being made. But 4-star reviews also get handed out like sunflower seeds these days. Every year I come up with my faves of the year. Sometimes a top 20, usually just ten, and even those records I love I'm reluctant to hand over 4 stars to.

Like you, I loved that last Van Halen record. But is it even a 3-star record? I don't know.

I would never deny anyone the pleasure of enjoying anything. But I will always question the hype over something that is simply good. Things seem great now because to the left and right of those things are absolute crap.

I got crushed when I said I didn't love Adele. Is she great? For real? Or is she great because her competition is...who?

A walk in the woods said...

Hmmm.... I don't really think of music in terms of "it was great then, and it's not great now" or the opposite - I just listen, still buy plenty of new music (although admittedly a lot of it is by established artists, not new artists) and am happy.

Miley Cyrus doesn't even register on my thought bubble... unless she comes out with a fun song, and "Parties in The USA" qualifies as that when it came out....

That being said, I do have a problem with "modern music," although it's a whole different issue - in fact it's almost the opposite of the point you're raising.

My issue is with the Furrowed Brow Society that has crept into music fashionability for the past 10-15 years. To wit: the overwhelming tendency to sing about death, loss, sadness, pain and gloominess as if it's the avatar of intelligence or hipness. I can think of sooo many bands and artists who have made it their mantra to focus on The End Game - think Lana Del Rey's "Ready To Die," 9 Inch Nails "Hesitation Marks," most anything by Radiohead - hell, Iron & Wine's entire whiny ouevre...

So I'll take something dumb and perky over another dire song.

charlie c. said...

"The bar gets lower and lower and lower." That's the gist of it right there. Remember scouring the horizon for the next Dylan, and then every kid with a guitar and some verses tried (hard) to fill that niche? So we didn't find him, never will, but great, great talent appeared and diappeared along the way. The rules have changed, I think. The music industry isn't lined up to give us creativity, nascent genius. It is more likely to spit out New Direction. That's why trips to the cradle, back to New Orleans, seem so rich. Music bubbles up everywhere - the hip club on Bourbon or in front of Rouses's. Head on down to Frenchman's and the music outside rivals the music inside. Too bad that's the exception, not the rule.

scott krantz said...

In the 90s a room full of white guys decided to kill rock and roll
and put everything behind rap and hip hop, they made billions by convincing young people that these people were genius and that a DJ was an artist,in a world were Jay Z proclaims himself the New Picasso Baby on what basis I could only guess I cry for the running down of our culture
I'm almost 60 and I love good music and I dont care by who
or age I'm big fans if Munford and sons the Avett brothers Arcade Fire and even 20 year old Jake Bugg but the best record I've heard in a long time was made by a 30 year old over 40 years ago

gms168 said...

you are right! best album this year is a collection of outakes from the most maligned record made 43 years ago.

ASH On The Beat said...

I have mixed feelings about this.

For fans of our vintage, we've heard everything before and so there's nothing new to hear and we compare everything to what's gone before, that's all well and good, but we lived through a time when musicians were rock stars they were untouchable.

Now you don't have to invest in the album, the band is in the local pub before the gig or at the gig bar.

Music competes with so many other things.

With my two, I've never been that critical of what they listen to as long as they are listening to something.

Da kidz don't necessarily know what's gone before and the more music orientated will go back further to check the comparisons.

It's not just the cynical thing or world weary that takes us over, I was born in 1963, so have lived through the major changes and development of popular music, the kids today haven't.

The X Factors and Radio play listing doesn't open doors, it force feeds and for all the good that the internet has done, you have to know what you are looking for.

We aren't comparing apples with apples, as I said, as long as people listen to something, we don't have to like it.

ASH On The Beat said...

@ A Walk In The Woods.

A great point. I'm currently in the midst of an interview with a fairly well known artist.

I asked why he writes such morbid stuff at times, when he can write some really uplifting hook laden chirpy wonders.

His reply was that easy to write miserable songs and far harder to write something catchy.

John Lightning said...

A post worthy of air time... being 62 means I too, grew up at a time when I was exposed to a very wide variety of music... and I loved most all of it. Thanks for an observation I can only agree with

William Repsher said...

I wrote this piece last time I ruminated on the "get off my lawn" vibe:

When's the last time anyone yelled, "Hey you kids, get ON my lawn?"

Recently I watched a documentary on LCD Sound System, taking in the last few days of the band before their farewell Madison Square Garden show. I like the band -- have a handful of their songs on my iPod, "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" being my favorite by far. The lead singer has great taste in music, too, even covers a Harry Nilsson song in concert ("Jump in the Fire") that sounds pretty good. Closing credits to the tune of "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" by Soft Cell.

But ... they come off as derivative of bands like The Talking Heads and New Order who were just way beyond these guys in talent level. They're OK, I'd much rather be aware of kids getting into a band like this than Miley Cyrus, shows me they're intelligent, thoughtful, will more than likely explore this guy's influences when he brings them up in interviews.

What struck me most about the documentary was how young and fanatical the fans were at that MSG concert (despite the fact that lead singer was in his 40s). Literally screaming out every lyric to every song. The camera would focus on the faces of these kids, serious as heart attacks, people who were flat-out obsessed with the band they were seeing for the last time.

And in my piece, that's the "age" thing I noted -- I can understand how you're a certain age and a certain band is "yours" and no one else's. Had I gone to that show, I surely would have enjoyed it ... but hoped like hell I wasn't anywhere fans this crazed about a band I just knew wasn't all that great. Hell, I'd take Magnetic Fields over LCD Sound System any day of the week ... and I strongly suspected most of the kids in MSG that night wouldn't even have known who the Magnetic Fields are.

That's something you should notice, too, as an older fan ... the inability of fans today to make connections that seem like second nature to anyone with even the slightest sense of pop history. At some point, you get out of the "my band" phase and truly into music ... or you just stop listening. Most people just stop listening. Ironically, most popular music is directed at just such people to cash in while they're still spending their parents' money.

joe blow said...

It's like you wrote the words my head thinks!

Anonymous said...

i remember like it was yesterday, my mother running into my bedroom - turning my record player off and turning on the radio (LOUD) and dialing-in this "amazing sound". It was BLARING from my speakers - she said, "Isn't this neat?" (It was "Pictures at an Exhibition" by ELP - which had not yet been released here in the states - but my mom "discovered it" on some old stoner FM station!)...she found out she could order it from some store in the UK and POOF it was mine!!!!
I - like you, Sal - was blessed with a family that LOVED all styles of music - consequently, when I was in High School (after football practices) virtually everyone looked forward to my "mixes" (on reel to reel) which ranged from Blind Boy Fuller to the Flying Burrito Brothers to the Rat Pack to ELP to Hayden (and anyone who was "rarely" heard on the radio at that time and some that were "popular")......
my daughter now carries the torch - and mixes her arctic monkeys with "my stuff", as well as elmore james, charlie parker and emmylou harris (constantly raising the eyebrows of her friends and husband.....who LOVES Miley)!!!!!

i STILL don't get it!! GMB

Anonymous said...

I think one problem is the comparison: Elvis to Miley Cyrus?

No. The Miley / Robin Thicke thing was fine. I mean, she's 20 years old and trying to figure out who she is and how far she can push her own boundaries.

But she's no Elvis. We have to compare it to something that came out in the 60's and was a hit at the time but with no staying power. Look through Billboard charts from 1968 and you'll see plenty of dreck. That's probably what Miley will end up being compared to, not an icon like Elvis.

There's good music coming out today. There's just a lot of competition now that there didn't used to be. It's a crowded and fractured marketplace.

I agree with the Avett Brothers. They are good with a chance to be great. For me, it's true of Neko Case too.

But if you guys aren't listening to Dawes, you're really missing out.

PS Listening to Another Self-Portrait on shuffle with Music from Big Pink and Stories Don't End by Dawes. Fits really well.

Gene Oberto said...

The great tight rope we of a certain age walk is how to celebrate our music while accepting the best of a new generation. For some of us, this is, counting ours, our third generation of music.

I love baseball. I love the pace that allows you to talk to your section over strategy, players or that last play. Baseball allows the fan to see the games in the game, like the way a defense shifts or how a shortstop will try a feint to keep a runner going to third.

I think it would be hard to find a 12-18 year old now who collects baseball cards, pores over stats and goes to many home games. It's because this generation is churnning at a faster speed.

When a new album would fall into our hands, we would go through a junkies ritual of looking at the front and back cover, carefully remove the shrink wrap-OK, not always so carefully, hold the disk on the very outer edges as we put it on the turntable and then carefully drop the needle down and sat back and listened.

We read the liner notes, we noticed producers, studios, players and composers. We then carefully flipped the disk and played side two. It is one of the reasons we so strongly remember our young adult listenings. And we would trace the music back to the blues, jazz and R & B originals because our artists used their material. How many times did I find out songs like Big Momma Thornton's "Hound Dog" was so much better than Presley's.

Today, the kids turn on Spotify, text their friends, and surf the web…all at the same time. They don't use their time as we did in music selection. It's the soundtrack of their life with a few songs that hang around for a month or so.

We had none of these external distractions, but we would speak on the phone or have conversations with friends while James Taylor or Tangerine Dream would play in the background. We sat down at most of our live performances until money and ego started to pack in the stadiums. Kids today go to their EMD shows to be seen at the scene. The music is secondary.

The long play is dead and only the dinosaurs will continue that pattern until they or their food supply dies off. Unlike my playlists, the single song is here. I'd rather Bruce give me great songs every few months, capturing the current mood, rather than wait two or three years for themes that have faded from the listener's conscience.

So, yeah, the kids are all right and can stay on the lawn. Just pick up your shit when you move on.

Jerry Lee said...

Great piece, Sal. I lean more toward roots/Americana/rock type music, and very little jumps out at me. It's good, and they're talented musicians, but it doesn't go any further than that. I played Jethro Tull's "Stand Up" the other day, and it was better than most of what I hear from the new roots bands.

And where's the weirdness or off the wall humor? I don't ever expect to hear another Zappa or Beefheart or Ramones, but nobody even comes close to Warren Zevon. Who's going to have a hit today autsobwith something like "Then he raped her and killed her, and built a cage with her bones"??

My favorite album by youngsters is Dog Party's "Lost Control". It's punklike pop by two sisters, aged 14 & 17. It beats the hell out of Lone Bellow.

buzzbabyjesus said...

It's the same for the art world.

Sal Nunziato said...

Let me say this about Dawes--

I tried real hard with the last record. I liked it. I thought this recent one was better, even though reviews have said otherwise. But still, my feelings remain the same. I remember nothing.

It's a sound and a vibe and it's good, especially compared to what's around. Yes Dawes stands out. Ask me my favorite tunes and I couldn't tell you.

Anonymous said...

Hello all…no, please remain seated,

I know I’m late to this thread. Although I am generally sympathetic to the premise of the original post by Sal, I find I both agree and disagree with some of the commentary. Long story short, here’s two observations or, more accurately, opinions:

The thing that underpins a lot of what young people listen to is this: the majority of young people prefer being sung to and played to by people their own age. Simple. They want to hear love songs, heartbreak songs, mopey songs, etc. by people of their own generation. And that trumps a lot of what we believe are the qualitative differences between what we listened to and today’s music scene.

Second thing. My sense is that there is a lot less fixation on guitar dramatics than there was when I was their age (we Flintstones loved us some big caveman guitar!). I know that might seem overly generalized but, to the extent that my own two daughters give me a small window into young ‘uns…well, they respond very well to the Beatles, not so much to the Stones (I’m heartbroken).

Ok…one more: Lastly…there’s just much, much more media for younger people to consume than there was back in the Ice Age. In dinner parties twenty year down the road, they’ll probably swap stories about old video games, Instagram stories, Facebook etc. as much as they will about music. That’s a pretty big wind for us to be pissing in.

You think it’s depressing to think that these kids won’t listen to Dylan, Zeppelin etc.? Well, I agree. But it’s even more depressing to me to think just how few of them will listen to Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. Young people with little or no appreciation for the culture that spawned them? Same as it ever was.

Sorry this is so long but, to paraphrase Mark Twain, I didn’t have enough time to write a short post.


Anonymous said...

Hello all, no, please remain seated,

One more thing...has anyone heard Lord Huron? Won't make you throw out anything in your collection, but pretty damn good.


ge said...

Well here's a current artist/song that holds up well compared to your 60s faves:

Sal Nunziato said...

"the majority of young people prefer being sung to and played to by people their own age."

I don't buy that, Rich.

The Beatles were older than me. So was Glenn Miller. And Bob Dylan. When I was 15, who could I have been listening to that was 17?

Anonymous said...

Hello all…no, please remain seated,

I was a bit imprecise when I wrote that young people wanted to only listen to stuff performed by people their own age. To develop the thought a little more…let me re-define “their own age” as, say, within 10 years or so of the listener’s age. Or, perhaps, close enough to their own age as to be plausibly a contemporary.

Or maybe this is a better way to illustrate the point: youngest daughter attends a well known university in upstate New York. They just booked their Homecoming concert act: 3rd Eye Blind. Among the student reactions quoted in the campus newspaper: “(the student) said the band is dated and will cater more to alumni, not students, who visit Cornell during Homecoming.”

Another student: ““I think my 13-year-old self is very happy. As students entering our twenties, we will remember them from when they were popular and we were in our early teens — although I think it will also be cute for alumni to attend the concert,” she said. Ouch.

3rd Eye Blind started in the late 1990’s!!! Maybe I can’t really define it in timespan, but I think most young people want to hear other young people perform.


Shriner said...

"The Beatles were older than me. So was Glenn Miller. And Bob Dylan. When I was 15, who could I have been listening to that was 17?"

Leslie Gore?

I tend to agree (for the most part) about the age thing. There are certain *timeless* songs/artists (Beatles) that will probably continue to transcend generations. But it will be fewer and farther between as we get older.

"Kids" will want to gravitate to what is current. When they go to college, they might start listening to something else. Maybe.

Today's 14-year-old girls (and I have daughters so I can speak with some limited experience) basically listen to Clear Channel owned hit-music stations. It's common among their friends, too. It's not *that* removed from the "top 40" of the 70s with the exception that today's hit-music stations are much more fragmented. And, what's just as important (and Sal touches on this) -- they *enjoy it*.

It's not only the constant repetition of Top 40 radio (the main reason I don't listen to it), but because there is a certain amount of catchiness to it.

My 17-year-old daughter is a bit more experimental and seeks out some older stuff. But I think she is an anomaly.

What teenage boys listen to, I have no clue. ;-) I assume it's whatever hard rock bands are current.

But, to circle back the conversation, the only reason my kids listen to anything *apart* from those radio stations (and this would be anything that's *not* on the radio) -- is because I play it at home.

Most of it, they don't like. Some of it -- the timeless earworm stuff you might hear on an "oldies" station -- they like. Other stuff they like surprised the hell out of me (man, have we played the shit out of the "Xanadu" soundtrack for years now...)

I think what all the old farts here (and I include myself in this) have as a problem, is that we are not what is marketed to. I quickly googled the year-end hot 100 singles of *2003*. And -- apart from "Beautiful" -- and the remakes of "Drift Away" and "Landslide", I had to get down to #28 before I could recognize any song on the list enough to think of the tune/lyrics. And, holy crap, going through the *entire* 100? I could only come up with about 5-8 that I could still think of the melody.

Popular Music of today *is* for the youth market. It's not for us. But this *is* timeless music for somebody who is not us.

What I'm going to be fascinated by is what an "oldies" station will sound like in 20 years when we are all "retired". "Oldies" stations (at least around here) are now mid-60s to mid-80s. Pre-Beatles/Motown songs -- are pretty-much gone. In 20 years, what will be "oldies"? It's all the stuff you hated in the post-first-five-VJ era of MTV.

Blame the segmentation of the radio market if you want to blame anything, really (but that's another screed for another time -- and I do *not* get the English charts *at all*, but I applaud what appears to be the diversity on them. Or maybe they suck just as much, ASH?)

But, hey, I'd go see Third Eye Blind. "Losing A Whole Year"? Great song from a pretty-good debut album, actually... 4 stars? Maybe not. But full of hooks and ear worms.

Korla said...

There is a blind spot in your analysis: The bands you mentioned at the beginning (stones, fab four, dylan etc.) weren't THAT great, too. Especially if you listen to their albums today. They're only linked to some resonant experiences in your youth. That's the bottomline of your "rant". It's sad, that a man of your age isn't able to get that.

Sal Nunziato said...

Anyone here want to handle Korla?

ASH On The Beat said...

I'd love to Sal, but she'll be on her iphone now playing Candy Crush now waiting for I was a 12 year old mum to come on the tv

Anonymous said...

NEVER feed the trolls. A little bit of your soul will flake off and blow away.


vanwoert said...

Wow! Thank God I never grew up.@Korla, It's never too late to have a happy childhood.

Shriner said...

I'll take a shot.

Korla (while disparaging some of the faves and I'm guessing he/she meant "their current albums") makes a point.

I've played some of my favorite albums to my kids. Stuff I could play 100 times and never get tired of ("Get The Knack", "Abbey Road", "Headquarters", "English Settlement", "Jesus Christ Superstar", "Utopia Parkway", blah, blah, blah...)

Most of this generated a shrug from my kids.

But those albums *did* resonate to me. They are part of my youth/middle age.

Some songs/albums have an indelible historical time-and-place context in my life (Focus' Moving Waves, most top-40 songs from 1974, etc... -- including a bunch of stuff that would probably be considered crap by the masses) that I can't explain the feeling behind them when I still hear them today.

You expect your kids to go "wow, Dad, this is great! What else do you have?" when you play it.

But they don't (usually).

Any more than *you* would get why "2 Chainz" is popular.

I think that was the point.

Or maybe not?

William Repsher said...

Two things to note in any type of discussion like this. When the "old fogeys" point at the archetypal great bands of a time period ... it's almost always the same great bands of that time. Mainly because they recognize these bands are often the most well-known and are still in the public eye in some sense. The fogeys are aware of countless bands from the 60s, 70s and 80s -- hundreds, if not thousands. Some of these "other" bands are well-loved and personal favorites, but for whatever reason haven't risen to that level where their appeal crosses a few generations (witness the good-natured ribbing Graham Parker took in the recent movie This is 40). Some of these bands are just sort of there. And droves, upon droves, upon droves, flat-out sucked and more than likely clocked in with one Top 40 hit than went lost in the mists of time.

Take those top-shelf bands of any listening generation, Beatles, Dylan, Stones, Springsteen, etc. We're trained to grasp the weight of their entire recording careers. In other words, no current band, not even a good one, with a good album or two, can stand in the face of ... the collected works of The Beatles or Dylan. It's impossible. Every band will come up short.

I think you have to strike a balance between both those sides of history ... the weight and meaning of the old world, and the promise of the new. Most of the new isn't going to measure up. Ever. Just as most of the old stuff that was around the same time as these great bands just didn't measure up back then either. It's not a "time and place" thing; it's a quality thing.

But no one wants to be told their taste is for shit, or their generation by extension. Generally speaking, if people I respect, who are intelligent and more worldly than I am, point me in a direction, I'll go there to see what's there and judge for myself. More often than not, I'll agree with them to some extent and not resent them for it. Been this way since college, at least -- I have a lot of respect for people who can point me in directions that end up making sense and having value.

But end of the day, people are going to listen to whatever they want to listen to. I have friends who were a good 10 years older than I am who never got and never will get all those alternative 80s bands I loved, like The Replacements or Camper Van Beethoven. I surely don't think they're assholes or "fogeys" because of this. But I do grasp how an age difference of just a few years can make a big difference in how one interprets art of any sort.

I never took Nirvana all that seriously at the time -- was roughly the same age as Cobain and dealing with becoming an adult at that time, as opposed to wandering around feeling hurt and angry as if I was still a teenager with attitude to burn. Couldn't afford it at that point in my life. It's safe to say I thought Nirvana was bullshit at the time ... but, time goes on, and I find myself listening to a nice cross-section of their songs and really "getting" it in ways I didn't back then.

soundsource said...

wow I didn't realize you were that age I thought you were a ninety year old jew named Murray.....oh that's a different thread, sorry

peabody nobis said...

Well said, Sal. Sadly, I agree with you. And it's not just because all new music isn't as good as in the past. It's because the BEST of the new music isn't as good as in the past. As you said, very little of what you listen to is memorable. It just all runs together.
The best thing I've heard this year was The Next Day, by 66-year old David Bowie. It had interesting lyrics, and great melodies. Nothing else I've heard comes close, even some of the stuff you have recommended. Sad that it takes a 50 year veteran of pop/rock music to achieve that.
It seems that now it's all about the SHOW. How outrageous can you be? What kind of dance moves do you have? Oh, and can you lip-sync this crappy song at the same time? Great!
And so-called country music is just as bad. It's really country-pop, with references to trucks, the Flag, Americuh!, and other hokum. Some is decent, but it's not country music, not the kind I grew up with.
Like you, I grew up listening to, and loving, artists like Dean Martin, Sinatra, Ray Charles, Herb Alpert, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Charley Pride, George Jones, and Merle Haggard . But I also loved the music of my generation like Zep, Beatles, Elvis, and the like. And it was because the songs were extremely well-written, both lyrically and musically.
There's just very little effort in that area any more.