Thursday, January 3, 2008


i vividly remember a conversation i shared with a couple of my room mates during my sophomore year of college. we were sitting around late at night listening to the newest Tool CD and discussing how much music had changed, almost exponentially, since our parents were our age. how different genres branched off into sub genres and sub genres of sub genre until entirely new types of music were born. my grandparents didn't grow up with rock and roll. my parents knew nothing about hip hop or turntablism or heavy metal. we sat there and wondered if it was possible for any of us to reach an age when the musical styles of the young was obnoxious noise to our ears.

i've thought about this from time to time over the years. i think i now understand how this generational gap can occur. i'll use the fictitious "George" as the example to my theory.

let's say George grows up listening to the music his parents liked. lots of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. in high school, George starts spending time riding around in his friends cars. various 8 tracks introduce George to The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Elvis Presley. then, George's cool order brother comes home from college with a Led Zeppelin t-shirt and a handful of Pink Floyd records.

George heads off to a higher education and meets new people who all have their own tastes and take George to concerts to hear groups he'd never heard before. George's room mate plays synthesizer for a prog-rock band. his girlfriend loves angst ridden, acoustic guitar playing, female singer songwriters.

George gets his bachelor's degree and starts a promising career at a computer software corporation. most of his new colleagues are stern workaholics, but he makes a few friends on his floor. they go out for drinks every few weeks. maybe a movie or a small club here or there.

a few years pass before George meets "Jane", the sassy new receptionist across the street. a burning love affair is sparked and George spends most of his free time with Jane, only having time to meet up with work chums one friday a month. Jane and George move in together and their music collections merge. shortly afterward they get hitched and then, whoops, Jane's knocked up. George receives a much deserved promotion to district manager on baby "Judy's" 3rd birthday. with a stressed out young wife, a hyper-active toddler and a demanding full time career, George rarely finds the time to see many of his old friends.

15 years pass. baby Judy (who prefers Judith now) grows into a young woman and moves to california to pursue an acting career. Jane starts taking yoga classes three times a week and joins Oprah's book club. George suddenly has time on his hands.

he's quickly disenchanted by the bands he starts noticing on popular radio stations and late night talk shows and begins to feel extremely frustrated with the music of these modern times. unable to find similarities between Mick Jagger and Trent Reznor, George rejects new music entirely and sticks with his tried and true favorites.

unbeknownst to our hero, this dramatic change wasn't instantaneous. its was a slow progression. as his circle of friends got smaller and less diverse, so to did his exposure to new trends. he'd stopped paying attention to the directions that music was moving in. the forward movement of his musical tastes stagnated on the back burner while he settled down. it metamorphasized into a whole new beast behind his back.

so here's my theory...

musical tastes are directly connected to the size and importance one's social life. test it out. scientifically. ask anyone what their favorite band is. the release date of that band's best album = the peak of that person's social network. the bigger the gap between then and the present, the smaller the importance of having a social life. if the band's peak predates that person's adolescence, their social height was reached in or before 10th grade. if its a current band, they're still climbing the ladder.

sidenote: i wonder what music could possibly sound like when kids classify Radiohead and Bjork and Aphex Twin as "old fogey music". drop a comment if you have any speculation. i can't fathom it.

...the future?


Monica said...

This is why I subscribe to you.

Anonymous said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you are always an old fogey to someone. Sucks, but when you continue to live this is the reality.