Monday, 2 May 2016

Music history

“Today’s music is crap.”
“Har-de-har-har!  You’re old!”

That kneejerk reaction is so irritating.  It is a big bucket of slop drowning out any rational discussion of merits and analysis.

Then I began to think a little harder on the subject recently.  Where derives this scorn for older ears not being able to appreciate the current teen idol pop music?  It comes from the mid-1950’s and early 1960’s.

That is when human history began to stand on its head with the veneration of youth.  When teenagers suddenly had economic power and status.  When the market place began to target them directly, without any intervention of older decision-making.  It’s when “rock & roll” came to life.

What was the time period like?  Humans who had grown to adulthood in the previous era which had valued age and wisdom found themselves marginalized.  Their radio was being eaten away by this “simplistic kiddie noise”.  A quick scan of playlists of the time show old favourites like Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra vying directly with Elvis and Bill Haley.

This was THE Generation Gap.  This is when the criticism of “you’re too old to get our tunes, daddy-o!” became common.  And it was true.  It was a huge paradigm shift for so many adults and most could not cope.  They lashed out at the music, the fashions, the hair lengths and whatever lay within reach.  And this clash reverberated thru the ensuing generations as much as any world war, still aftershocking the modern day.

Okay.  This is all simplistic history.  My treatise today is that “you’re too old” really doesn’t apply to people born since that paradigm shift of 1955-ish.  We grew up as the Venerated Youth.  The music all around was our music.  The music I scorn today is not a radical departure that unsettles me.  It is not me clinging to the horse and buggy, unable to cope with the automobile.  It is me being fully comfortable with the car and, walking around the latest model for this year, noting the new colour choices and stylings, finally deciding it isn’t up to much.

The music of today is nothing but honed and polished versions of what the recording industries have learned in my younger days.  This combination of beats, this reverb overlay on this level of alto voice, sent out under a “Level A-2” marketing blitz is a formula that brings Top 40.

“You’re too old to get modern music”.  “I don’t listen to that old music”.  These are involuntary dribblings by empty-headed drones.  They are challenges that have no merit.  We didn’t listen to our parents’ music because it was fully different than what we liked.  Kids today that don’t listen to the last 50 years of pop tunes do so because...unless they have any “student of history” impulse in them, they have enough current stuff saturating their day. 

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