Friday, December 04, 2009

Overheard in the Office:

RX: "I didn't mean to bother you with my old people music."

Me: "'Old people music'? You were playing Led Zep."

RX: "Yes. Nowadays that's..."

Me: "...Cadillac commercial soundtracks. Yeah. And it ain't Cadillac's demographic that's changed. Jesus, the kids that were rioting at Kent State are going to be rioting for Medicare now, throwing their orthopedic Reeboks at Obama."

Even though they're old enough to be my parents, Led Zep isn't "old people's music" to me because I grew up in the demographic shadow of the Baby Boom. Who did I go see in concert in the '80s?

That's right.

Who?

That's right.

Get it?

We used to joke that ads for K-Tel compilation records (ask your parents, kids) in our golden years would start with the voice-over saying "Hey! Remember remembering the Sixties in the Eighties?"

It's bad enough what they did to me in the record store; I'm really worried about what they're going to do to me at the voting booth.


EDIT:
In comments, reader Samsam notes:
"Walking down the halls of our local high school, I see a lot of Led Zep and Pink Floyd t-shirts. On the kids, not the staff."
Which is actually a little weird when you think about it. That would be like strolling around at Berkeley in '68 and finding all the kids dressed like flappers and humming ragtime tunes.

These crazy kids and their music today, with all the hipping and the hopping! Why can't they listen to decent music, like Blue Öyster Cult or ZZ Top? The fact that some of them are listening to what is, in effect, their grandparents' music should tell you something about cultural pervasiveness.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

Walking down the halls of our local high school, I see a lot of Led Zep and Pink Floyd t-shirts. On the kids, not the staff.

Samsam

Anonymous said...

"what they're going to do to me at the voting booth"

Never mind April 15th.

Tam said...

"Walking down the halls of our local high school, I see a lot of Led Zep and Pink Floyd t-shirts. On the kids..."

Which is actually a little weird when you think about it. That would be like strolling the quad at Berkeley in '68 and finding all the kids dressed like flappers and humming ragtime tunes.

Mark Alger said...

Nonetheless, when I -- a 40-year veteran of the music bidness -- encounter an act capable of selling out a string of dates at some Olympic stadium or other and have never even heard of them... I get to feeling REALLY old.

M

TW: frockux -- somehow, strangely, apposite

Tam said...

I was shocked to find out that my roomie had no idea who The Black Crowes were.

Borepatch said...

These crazy kids and their music today, with all the hipping and the hopping!

And right out on my lawn, too!

elmo iscariot said...

"Guess Who's my favorite band from the 70s."

"Who?"

"No, _Guess_ Who."

"Who!"

Jay G said...

The Floyd/Zep/ACDC shirts are more of a retro-wannabe thing, IMHO.

Kinda like how bell-bottom jeans made somewhat of a comeback in the 1990s. Every, oh, thirty years or so we look back. I remember in the 1980s there were a ton of 1950s-themed movies/fads/etc.

And stay the hell off my lawn!

Ed Foster said...

Try the Fugs and The Mothers of Invention, Captain Beefheart, Little Feat, the Holy Modal Rounders, and throw in Country Joe and the Fish.

"Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag" was our marching song in the Green Machine.

Looking back at it and listening to some of the music after a few decades, I'm reminded of the first corollary to Minnow's Law, "90% of everything is crap". I'd push the figure to about 98%.

Scary thing is, most of those people, at least those who haven't died from drug overdose, are still playing. Nothing has changed in their little world, except for the weed, wine, and willin' wimmin being replaced by Geritol and support hose.

I regard the period as mostly a musical wasteland, but as P.J. O'Rourke said about his hanging with the anti-war types back in college, it's where all the good looking easy women were.

I was young, stupid, thinking with the wrong head like any healthy young animal, and the coffee house and early concert scene was the most target rich environment ever.

Without remorse, you never lived. I suppose. But I don't look back at it all with any fondness.

fast richard said...

The radio station I listened to forty years ago still plays the music from thirty and forty years ago. Except they don't play as wide a variety.

Back then FM "underground" radio meant the DJ could play pretty much what ever he, or only very rarely she, felt like listening to. That meant that in addition to current hits, and new releases from established groups, the playlist sometimes wandered off into music that wouldn't have fit the more rigid formula programming that came in by the mid seventies.

The increasingly formulaic rock of the early seventies was followed by the dark days of disco. There was a resurgence with punk and metal, but by that time many of us boomers were busy with work and families, so keeping up with new music was not a priority.

The "oldies" or "classic rock" that you grew up hearing is the thoroughly market researched remnant of that period. I can tune in to some radio stations today and for a few songs think it's nice to hear this old music, but after a few more songs I feel like I've heared all this crap before and change the station.

Kevin said...

I knew I was getting old when I noticed that the Muzak the grocery store was playing was Led Zeppelin.

Not Muzak Led Zeppelin, the real thing. "Misty Mountain Hop" IIRC.

WV: "deadv"

Hmmmm.....

T said...

Walk into a Hot Topic sometime and look at the shirts on the wall. The mix is about half and half. Half is new bands I don't recognize, the other half is bands that broke up before the kids working there were born.

Go to the mall, buy a Black Flag shirt. Wait, what?

Mulliga said...

I chalk it up to two things. First, a lot of 60s/70s rock bands are still actively touring (the Stones did "Gimme Shelter" with U2 last October, fully 40 years after the song was originally written). Second, the "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" games favored by the college set nowadays mostly use classic rock.

Jay G said...

What did it for me was hearing Judas Priest's "You've Got Another Thing Coming" being used to sell Whoppers for Burger King.

Right then and there, I knew that I had reached the "target demographic" stage of my life...

(Hearing Ozzy's "Crazy Train" being used to shill for Mitsubishi was a close second, too)

Bram said...

The Blues guys that Led Zep stole their songs from certainly would be considered old people music now.

staghounds said...

I had this same moment a couple of years ago, when I actually heard Depeche Modes Strange Love in an elevator.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Damn Boomers. They need Logan's Run (but age 65) done to them so the younger generation can be free of their malifluous cultural pollution AND save money on Social Security and Medicare.

Naw, that's not very Libertarian of me. Rule of law, the rights of the individual, condemning a whole cohort for the behavior of a subset and all...

I still want them all to be put in very crappy retirement homes...

Mark Alger said...

Jay G;

Oh, how it scarred me when, at the height of Carnaby Street, my 1890's-vintage grandmother said, "Oh? Is paisley back in again?"

Yoiks!

M

Wolfwood said...

Good, popular stuff tends to persevere. That's why you've still heard of Beethoven and Stravinsky, yet not the mediocre one-hit-wonder composer (Pachelbel and Khatchaturian are examples of this if you take away "mediocre").

One problem with today's music is that the dreck is still catchy enough for the moment, even if it's not likely to survive. You're not going to hear Bloodhound Gang or Eiffel 65 in twenty years, but you will hear Soundgarden and Green Day.

Blackwing1 said...

What's a little disconcerting (ten inpunded) is to go to a Jethro Tull concert, and find three generations of fans. They're bringing the grandkids along now to watch ol' Ian tootle across the stage.

Funny, he's not doing flying knee-drops anymore...

Will Brown said...

Blue Oyster Cult!?! Puh-Leeeze.

Huey Lewis and the News foh evah! (since only the ruthlessly successful capitalist pigs can afford to be Cali Clown Bay-area libtards while not still living with their mother)

og said...

"should tell you something about cultural pervasiveness."

Actually, I think it also says something about the quality of the music being offered today. Some of the old crap is still pretty damned good, even held up against the best of the current crop.

George said...

Not to nitpick, but, I think you skipped a generation...
Maybe the 60's crowd dressing in suits, and listening to Glenn Miller or the Dorsey Brothers?
Good point, otherwise

Todd said...

It'd be OK if it stopped with the kids and the good stuff - Led Zep, Who, etc, but my girls are singing 'Don't Stop Believing'. The kids have it on their iPods. Wasn't good then, isn't good now.

Mike W. said...

Hell I'm 24 and I listen to Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Hendrix etc.

No one plays guitar like that anymore.

Tam said...

@og,

Of course. That's just what your parents said, too. ;)


@ George,

I was going chronologically: A college sophomore tapping her toes to "Communication Breakdown" in 2009 is exactly as anachronistic as her grandmother would have been, rocking out to Gershwin's score for Strike Up The Band.

Tam said...

EDIT: You're right, George, I missed the generational count... It would have been her mother. But still '28-'68, '69-'09.

Hunter said...

Walk through a high school and look at the t-shirts on display. Hell, most of them could have come from the bottom of my shelves.
If I wear one of my Dead shirts, I get offers to buy it from me from kids that cannot vote yet.
Good guitar work is huge with the teen-set. Glad to see that.

the pistolero said...

I'm with Og, though I might think more of the old stuff is better. Even the '80s had its high points; it's just that from what I gather most of those high points didn't get much exposure. Or did they play bands like Queensryche, Iron Maiden and Megadeth that much on the radio back then? Thank God for satellite radio, where all that music still gets played.

theirritablearchitect said...

"...Good, popular stuff tends to persevere...You're not going to hear Bloodhound Gang or Eiffel 65 in twenty years, but you will hear Soundgarden..."

If Soundgarden had been around in the vinyl-and-cassette era, I'd have done worn my copies completely out.

I'm still listening to every album they ever produced, to include Temple of the Dog (the single best grunge-era record, IMO), and they sound just as fresh to me now as they did in the day. [shrug]

I'd say I'm old, but I'm pretty convinced they were just that good.

og said...

"Of course. That's just what your parents said, too. ;)"

And in retrospect, they were right.

Tam said...

It just occurred to me that Axl Rose and Michael Stipe are only a year or two away from getting their first AARP junk mailings.

Will Brown said...

Tam said...
It just occurred to me that Axl Rose and Michael Stipe are only a year or two away from getting their first AARP junk mailings.


Well, there's that then; maybe the AARPies will get all excited and leave me the hell alone instead.

og said...

"It just occurred to me that Axl Rose and Michael Stipe are only a year or two away from getting their first AARP junk mailings."

I'm getting them by the truckload.

I'm trying to figure out a way to use them to heat the house.

Joanna said...

I once got a weird look from a 50-ish construction worker type because I was blasting Paradise City with the windows open as I cruised through the Kroger parking lot.

My dad played Chicago 9 every day (not kidding) when he drove my sisters and me to school my senior year of high school.

The only BOC song I know is Don't Fear the Reaper, which gives me the willies worse than Top 40 radio.

I'm strangely addiction to Beyonce's Single Ladies, mostly because I'm still trying to pin down the time signature. Don't judge me.

Age: 26.

WV: roidn. A little Prep. H'll clear that right up, AARPies.

Joanna said...

*addicted

theirritablearchitect said...

og,

You mean something like this?

Rick R. said...

I couple of years ago, I was watching teh Rolling Stones on TV (SuperBowl halftime, maybe?)

Keith Richards was teh livliest, healtiest one of teh bunch.

Ol' Mick in his Junior Miss Britney jeans looked like the Stumbling Dead.

Pistolero -- No, in the 80's the cutting edge metal didn't get much airtime most markets. A metric butt-ton of pale Euro-Pop and such instead. . .

LabRat said...

It goes both ways. Nowadays the commercials are picking up new and obscure bands too; hell, Bif Naked got de-undergroundized thanks to freazkin' Mazda.

With everything digitalized, it's just plain possible to explore everything from your grandparents' music to Swaziland tongue drumming and decide what you like. Sturgeon's Law may still be in effect, but when you have effectively fifty years' worth of stuff to pick from it's a lot easier to live exclusively in the ten percent.

Timmeehh said...

Even the newer music is commercialised. Think Telepopmusik's Breathe in the Mitsubishi ad or Massive Attack's Teardrop used as the theme music for the TV show House.

Anonymous said...

How did classical music become "classical"? Perhaps because it was good enough to still listen to after a century or three. In 2104 will Led Zeppelin have the same status as Bach?

Tam said...

LabRat,

"With everything digitalized, it's just plain possible..."

An interesting phenomenon. Have you read Gibson's Idoru?

Is U2 the real-life Lo/Rez?

George Hedgepeth said...

This is due to the Rock Band/Guitar Hero games as much as anything- my 5 year old god daughter rock out to Iron Maiden...She can hit Bruce's notes too.

the pistolero said...

The only BOC song I know is Don't Fear the Reaper, which gives me the willies worse than Top 40 radio.
Yeah, I gotta admit I grew tired of that one long ago, but BOC did have other good tunes. My personal favorite is "This Ain't The Summer Of Love."

A metric butt-ton of pale Euro-Pop and such instead. . .
Yep, that's the way I remember it from riding with my uncle back when I was younger. I'll still listen to some of it, but most of the hair metal of the day lost its shine when I discovered that more cutting-edge metal.

LabRat said...

Tam- sadly, nope. I'm actually pretty underexposed as far as cyberpunk goes; I like some of the concepts but so far I just haven't gotten on with any of the authors I've tried yet.

Unix-Jedi has gotten me reading Cyteen, which makes me happy because it is refreshingly biologically informed and rich, and yet features absolutely character I wouldn't mind seeing dying in a fire in the next chapter. It is a puzzlement.

the pistolero said...

And just like that, what cues up? Queensryche. ("Jet City Woman" for the curious.) I love Sirius.

Zendo Deb said...

A gun blog makes a crack about music from the glory days, and nobody mentions the Nugent?

Zendo Deb said...

err ... the Nuge...

And I wanted to be the person to mention the Guess Who. "We're on the Highway to Hell." If they only knew.

Anonymous said...

the crazy thing is that the "younger" generation has found out that the music from the sixties,seventies and eighties are the most musically copied by the "new" bands. We still don't have any new jimi,janis, or lowell g. types emerging from the "younger" crowed.

Walt

rickn8or said...

I think my depression started when I saw/heard some bubble-gummer hold up the Beatles' Abbey Road album and yell across the record store "Hey Marcie! Lookit this! Paul McCartney was in another band before he was in Wings!" Then my son wanted to know who Paul McCartney was.

Tam said...

"the crazy thing is that the "younger" generation has found out that the music from the sixties,seventies and eighties are the most musically copied..."

Yeah, all those awesome '60s originals like "When The Levee Breaks"...

Brad K. said...

I think the biggest factor is probably the recording industry - and their copyright attorneys and lobbyists.

Even after getting centuries-old copyright and patent coverages doubled and redoubled - the '60s and into the '70s are pretty much public domain. Stations can play that stuff without having to calculate royalties, which seems to be more cumbersome and fraught with fees than the tax code.

Classical music, for the most part, still fails the advertiser creed - get the breaks in every couple minutes, or we look for another station.

What made Thanksgiving special for me, this year, was hearing Arlo Guthrie's _Alice's Restaurant_ from the steeple to the Group W bench.

I can't remember Eddy Arnold's "Cattle Call", so when I help my neighbor work cows, I sing "Deep within my heart lies a memory . . " and that jingle,
"Aunt Jemima's Pancakes,
with her syrup,
is like the Spring
without the Fall.

In this universe
there's just one thing worse
That's no Aunt Jemimas
at all."

Both work to calm and move the cows. Even if my neighbor rolls his eyes from time to time.

Firehand said...

There's a FM station in Fort Worth that's actually programmed and run by the students at a high school, part of a class. The format? 70's and 80's music, heavy on the 70's.

the pistolero said...

"Deep within my heart lies a memory . . "

"...A song of old San Antone..."
Heh. You might even call that "old people music," too. It's always been a favorite of mine, though, pretty much anyone's version.

Anonymous said...

Quality Lasts. Crap doesn't.

Personally, I enjoy listening to my Dad's music - Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Nat Cole, Basie, Ellington, Goodman...

Not that I don't enjoy the newer stuff too.

So I guess there's precedent.

David said...

My 17 year old daughter's friends love the music on her iPod. They were stunned when she told them that all the Boston, Chicago, Kiss, Foghat, Foreigner, Dead, CCR, etc is all my music.

Then they are horrified when they pick up my iPod and find it full of Temptations, Four Tops, Supremes, Gladys Knight, BB King, Eddie Vinson, James Carr, Percy Sledge, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. The rest is all podcasts from Tom Gresham and the Guns Right Network.

Michael in CT said...

I think the proliferation of the Ipod and other MP3 players has made a big difference, being able to pick up a song for a dollar or for free, beats the hell out of paying the $16.99-$18.99 retail prices these days. There is a lot on my Ipod that I never would have gotten if I had to buy the entire album. Also (at least on Itunes) you get to see who the influences were of your favorite artist which leads you to trying them and so on and so forth. Finally like others have mentioned, the really good muscians/performers will continue sell.
Here's an example of just some of the artists on my Ipod: Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Los Lobos, Amy Winehouse, Little Richard, Evanescence, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and about 30 performers nobody ever heard of.

Rick O'Shea said...

"I was shocked to find out that my roomie had no idea who The Black Crowes were."

Try "Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes: Live".
A bit brash and sloppy, but they're live and having fun.
As one reviewer said, "they do Zepplin live better than Zepplin".

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Good music lasts, particularly moreso these days when finding a copy of ANYTHING takes seconds.

Bad music gets redone or forgotten. Well, or commercialised on the cheap because the rights cost pennies.

reflectoscope said...

Rick O'Shea beat me to it, but I agree that the Crowes are pretty much Led Zeppelin born again.

Jim

Adrian K said...

Yup. I haven't seen to many bands that have guitarists anywhere near as good as the Prog-Rock bands were.

I second the Guitar Hero/Rock Band thing too. I have many friends and acquaintances who wouldn't be caught dead in public listening to that, but they really enjoy playing the Prog-Rock stuff on the Xbox for the challenge and gain an appreciate for the technical skills needed to play it live.

Cargosquid said...

It's the quality of the music and the intensity. My 9 year old daughter learned to love the Nuge with "Cat Scratch Fever" when she was 3 and I always find her nodding her head to Led Zeppelin.

She would much rather listen to my Blues CD's than what's on the radio today.

And the look on her mother's face when we pull in the drive way with AC/DC blaring and her head just banging away......priceless.


Though she is a Miley Cyrus fan.....

Clint said...

"That would be like strolling the quad at Berkeley in '68 and finding all the kids dressed like flappers.. "

You mean they didn't?

In "To Sir, with Love" a good point was made that the fashion of the 60's was right out of the 20's.

The skirts were just shorter.