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  • The cultural death grip of the Baby Boomers

       February 08, 2010

    No offense to my Baby Boomer friends and family, but sometimes I just can't wait for you all to, um, fade away and take your death grip on popular culture with you.

    Watching The Who at the Super Bowl last night was embarrassing. Half of the band is dead and the other half are in their mid-60s. Roger Daltrey is 65. 65! Without Keith Moon, the band apparently had to settle for Nigel Tufnel on drums.

    Don't get me wrong. I love The Who. My older Boomer siblings made sure of it. But their hour upon the stage has long since passed. The same goes for The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and the like (as an aside, is anyone else grossed out by Clapton's T-Mobile ad? At this point, I don't want to think about him "getting off" on anything. Keep it in your pants, Grandpa.)

    The Who haven't released an album in over 30 years. They're not creating anything new anymore. They're just an oldies band. And maybe that's fine for the Super Bowl. But that's because they're "safe" now (like playing "Shout" at a wedding), not because, as a commenter on Althouse asserts, music somehow peaked in the 1960s:

    I think the problem is that there hasn't been a really original innovation in popular music since the 1960s. Teenagers are still listening to Led Zeppelin and the Beatles because music today is really very little different from the music of the 1960s, whereas the music of the 1960s was very different from earlier music. So 1960s music still sounds very good and mainstream to modern ears.

    Until someone comes up with a fundamentally new popular music genre that captures the popular imagination like 1960's music did, those 60's acts will continue to have mass appeal.

    I don't know why the 1960s was so different, but my best guess is a combination of the introduction of the electic guitar with all it could do and the cultural changes. Maybe someone needs to invent some new musical instrument.

    The 1960s were so different to you because you were young then. The music of your own coming of age is always going to seem more powerful and important to you than anything you hear before or since.

    What I resent about the Baby Boomers is that so many of them feel the need to tell the rest of us that our coming of age just wasn't as important as theirs. They want to play their cultural soundtrack over our lives. I remember Boomers being pissed that college students weren't marching against the first Iraq War and then again for the 2nd Iraq War. It was as if they expected us to relive their youth instead of living ours.

    Kids still listen to The Who and Led Zeppelin because they were good. College students also listen to Nirvana and Pearl Jam today, but you don't find Generation X claiming that music peaked in the grunge era. I feel sorry for a lot of Baby Boomer music fans because they've missed out on two generations worth of great music. If Eddie Vedder is rockin' the Super Bowl LVI halftime show in 2022, I only hope I'm making fun of him rather than claiming that there's been no musical innovation since "Ten".

    Posted by at February 8, 2010 11:55 AM

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    #  February 8th, 2010 1:36 PM      BVBigBro
    Just as interesting is that you have an older Boomer brother who is discovering the music of your youth 30 years after the fact. It's new to him.  
    #  February 8th, 2010 6:33 PM      kris
    I think that, unless you're way into music, you judge today's music by what's a hit, but you judge yesterday's music by what's stood the test of time. So you're stacking the deck in favor of the past.

    For example, look at the top songs of 1968. There's some classics, but there's also a lot of dreck.  



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