Sunday, February 7, 2010

Relativistic Ramblings: Is the music good? I dunno, let’s ask the 80’s.

There are few things that live on in perpetuity like those that you grew up with. Or, put simply in deference to you, Kent: everyone knows that the music you grow up with is that which continues to resonate with you long after it has any right or reason to. At weddings or similar events, for instance, you’ll find those who were young during WWII are always shuffling around in a wobbly approximation of swing dancing whenever “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree” is played. (Quaint? Sure, but at least while grandma and grandpa are occupied on the dance floor the waiters get a break from getting yelled at for not bringing the Harvey Wallbangers fast enough.)

Moving on in generations: Acappella Do-Wop groups that regularly terrorize county fairs and the like are populated exclusively by beefy old guys who came of age in the 50’s and have a penchant for hot rods and size XXXL satin jackets. Do-wop? Really? I say “get some instruments and stop pretending you’re on a street corner in Flatbush, you vagrants.”

Then there are those who came of age in the 60’s, and as far as I’m concerned they still have to answer for Herman’s Hermits and The Turtles. (Is it fair to imply that Herman’s Hermits is characteristic of all 60’s music? Not really, but so what? Yeah you can bring up the Stones, The Who, Dead and Beatles, but it doesn’t change the fact that The Hermits sucked enough to smell up an entire decade. And Tiny Tim… oh never mind.)

Next of course came the 70’s; a dark time during which there was, inexplicably, no music at all. None. Moving on.

Now then, having arrived in the 80’s we find a decade represented by a golden renaissance of melodic genius. All was right with the world. New Wave bands littered the musical landscape like diamonds. (Neon pink and green diamonds.) Hair was big, clothes were all the colors of that neon rainbow, and if it didn’t come from Benetton it wasn’t worth wearing. (But what about Capezios and Members Only jackets, you ask? Yes, grasshopper, they were awesome as well.)

Music from the likes of Fine Young Cannibals, XTC and The English Beat filled frat houses and clubs alike, and there was a singer named Madonna who was, to some, young and attractive. Really! No lie!

The 80’s were fair and equitable though, and there were bands for those who preferred alternatives: That decade also saw, for instance, a few 60’s guys like Steve Winwood and John Fogerty come to their senses and create solo works that still define their careers. To me.

But then, all too suddenly, the dream ended when the 90’s blew in like a bitter wind. A bunch of bands from Seattle started filling the airwaves with their atonal nonsense called “Grunge,” and that, as they say, was pretty much that. Since then the musical landscape, such as it is, has been pretty much dominated by teenagers artificially manufactured in Disney’s musical sweatshops and something called Hip-Hop. Or so I’m told.

So there you have it: an exhaustive, scholarly history of music worthy of the finest tubes on the interwebs… and all in a mere five or six hundred words. Relativistic nonsense, you say? Well sure, but just to raise the stakes, I bet next time I can explain all of the world’s major religions even quicker. So there.