“Oldies”… but Goodies.

I’d be 45 had I lived.

“I know! That’s like SO sad, right??”

The inane reply to an ignorantly distasteful statement I overheard while standing in line waiting for a cup of coffee earlier today: “Wow, I couldn’t believe how many “oldies” were at the Sam Roberts show?!?”, and delivered with an air somewhere between disdain and disgust for her fellow concert-goers.

The two in question were “20 something” females. Apparently “oldie” is a term coined by the same clever lot who brought us “foodie” (lover of food and dining out — like this actually requires a pet name??), “resto” (where said “foodies” go), and other profound abbreviations, and refers to those who are over 40 and thus deemed “too old” to be partaking in an activity that is “20 something” oriented, I’ve come to learn.

(For those of you who don’t know who Sam Roberts is, you can check him out here. He’s also closer to 40, so technically on the cusp of “oldie” status as defined by the ipod generation.)

Wrong. What’s “so sad” is being part of a generation that’s left only with the option of combing through their parents old vinyl collection when on the quest for something “new and original”.

Here’s why:

From an anthropological standpoint, the teen years have always been considered to be among the most significant in our species development because that’s when individuals are supposed to venture forth and seek their own personal expression; strive to break free of the apron strings and distance themselves from any and all parental conventions that have — until then — defined them.

In a word: Rebel.

Apple products are made in violation of human rights codes — but we knew that in our 20’s…

It’s no secret that over the past decade or so, there’s been a noticeable increase in the numbers of teen through college-aged listeners (the current ’20 something’ crowd) who cite bands and artists such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Queen, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan ( the list goes on), etc. as personal favourites. Do you see what I see?

I’m hotter at 42 than I was at 22…

When I was 14 through 21, I had an affinity for all of the above as they played an integral role as “soundtrack contributors” to my earlier childhood, but nostalgia gave way to creative exploration, and with a musical smorgasbord as diverse as Motorhead to The Cars; Yngwie J. Malmsteen to Slayer, Level 42, Tom Petty, Iron Maiden, Bauhaus, The Cure, U2, and literally dozens of others, it’s not hard to see why the thought of poking through my Father’s Perry Como records held very little interest.  Nor was it necessary — all the artists I mentioned offered such rich, unique and original listening experiences that each artist was literally like a self-contained aural eco-system to me. They sounded about as different from one another as they looked, as well, and yes — once upon a time, rock and roll had an image. It was Show Business.

I STARTED lifting weights when I was 40…

Of course, there was gluttonous excess; vapid “scenes” (think Miami Vice circa 1986) and frivolity (“cock rock”a la Cinderella, Poison, et al), but Generation X  became contemptuous of all the banality and parlayed that eclectic musical landscape I mentioned in to what has become known in modern music history books as a “musical revolution”.

I’ve compiled a partial list off the top of my head  — the first 20 names that came to mind, in no particular order, who are all “40 something” and actively creating new music at the time of this writing. The only exceptions would be Kurt Cobain (deceased but would have been 45 this year — and coincidentally, arguably more popular now than ever??), Jeff Buckley (deceased but would have been 46 this year) and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, who’s 52 or something, but impacted the others on the list to such a degree that I included him anyway. Deal with it.

 

Behold — my contemporaries and “oldies” supreme:

 

  1. Kurt Cobain — Nirvana
  2. Dave Grohl — Nirvana/Foo Fighters
  3. Thom Yorke — Radiohead
  4. Chris Cornell — Soundgarden
  5. Eddie Vedder — Pearl Jam
  6. Anthony Keidis — The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  7. Moby — MOBY
  8. Trent Reznor — Nine Inch Nails
  9. Billy Corgan — The Smashing Pumpkins
  10. Matthew Sweet — Matthew Sweet
  11. Jeff Buckley — Jeff Buckley
  12. Billie Joe Armstrong — Green Day
  13. Jarvis Cocker — PULP
  14. Maynard James Keenan — TOOL
  15. Tom Morello — Rage Against The Machine
  16. Bono — U2
  17. Thurston Moore — Sonic Youth
  18. Frank Black — The Pixies
  19. Gwen Stefani — No Doubt
  20. Dave Navarro — Jane’s Addiction

 

So you see, my dear younger readers, If “Generation X” AKA “oldies” didn’t completely redefine the way you listen to and/or create music, it undoubtedly played a pivotal role… and still does.

I got 5 Grammys for my 44th birthday…

Once upon a time, rock music was a voice for change; revolution… rebellion. It was dirty, sexy, subversive, made no apologies, and “took no prisoners”, as the saying goes. It was the antidote for mainstream advertising, NOT the lackey of.

What’s become of that is anyone’s guess (in fact, I have several theories, but that’s for another time), but what can’t be denied is the distinctly UN rock and roll vibe emanating from the bespeckled, beard and cardigan-wearing, Mac laptop-toting, latte-sluggin’ hipster “rockers” that pervade these days. A less original, more apathetic crowd could not be imagined.

“… that’s like SO sad, right?”

Yep.

So don’t ask or expect me to get excited about the latest litany of insincere, kitschy and “ironic” clones — I was fortunate enough to come up around that golden list of remarkably prolific and inspired artists, so I just happen to know better… a symptom of being an “oldie”, you could say.

 

Jon Mychal / Toronto — Aug 12 2012

 

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