Jan 01

Bringing Back the Past and Predicting the Future

     Bear with me on this one, because I'm on a roll and this is happening whether someone's paying attention or not.
     This Sunday, my preferred morning radio show (Breakfast with the Beatles for anyone who's interested) included an interview with a veteran rock and roll journalist named Jeff Slate. It was an interesting enough conversation, as they moved between Beatle stories of the past and what we can expect from the surviving members in the future. However, near the end of the interview the host asked Slate what role he believed the Beatles and music in general played in the world today. His answer surprised me- and not neccesarily in a good way. 
     More or less, Jeff Slate said that young people today don't care about music as much, that "no one lives or dies on the new release from their favorite artist- if they even have a favorite artist." He claimed that music no longer had as much of an impact on our lives and culture, that it had become all but irrelivent. Lastly, he predicted that in future years, all of the music from this present period would be forgotten, and the musical legends of his generation -the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan- would be the only ones remembered. 
     Obviously, this man has never seen my friend hanging onto the every antic of the Struts frontman Luke Spiller. He has never thought about the crowds of young people flocking to see Greta Van Fleet, or my brother putting the same Arctic Monkeys playlist on repeat for hours, or me wearing out yet another record because it just sounds so damn good, or a Facebook fan group raving about Beck's new album, a college student proclaiming that Cavetown is the best music to listen to as your world is falling apart. He's never seen a group of friends and strangers crying at a Cage the Elephant concert because Cigarette Daydreams cuts so deep, right into the soul. And he's most certainly seen us listening to songs from his era and learning from it, reinventing ourselves in its image, rebooting it for a new age and taking it farther than ever. 
     And as for irrelivence- let's talk about irrelivence. Let's talk about four kids in leather jackets and regrettable haircuts playing skiffle in a filthy club somewhere in Liverpool. You want to talk irrelivence, let's talk about a kid who goes by Davie Jones writing such inconsiquential numbers as Sell Me a Coat, Love You 'Til Tuesday and When I Live My Dream. As long as we're talking about irrelivence, we might as well mention the guy who sings for Hobbstweedle, a band who's concerts were attended by the amount of people it might take to fill a decent sized car. When you're done talking about irrelivence, you might notice that the four English boys in leather jackets were on the brink of revolutionizing music as the Beatles, and young Davie Jones was a few short years, a trip to the moon and an eyeshadow pallate away from becoming David Bowie, the Grand Duke of Glam Rock, AKA Ziggy Stardust, AKA Aladdin Sane, AKA the Thin White Duke. And the singer from that band with the dreadful name? His name was Robert Plant, and he was just about to meet Jimmy Page and become the legendary frontman of Led Zeppelin. Today's upstarts are tomorrow's legends, and nobody's forgetting that anytime soon.
     Before I go on, I'm going to clarify that I have nothing against Jeff Slate or anyone like him- more often than not, these individuals are pretty cool people with a lot of insider knowledge, and their opinions should be respected. After all, they were there. They know better than anyone else the impact that this music had on the lives of those hearing and seeing it in real time- it's only when this reminiscing of the past starts affecting their ability to live in the present, or make them claim that there has only been one moment in history worth living, and it's over- one battle worth fighting, and it's already been won. Whether they were there, or just missed it- left just outside the inner circle, born just a few years too late, just missed riding the wave of stardom- there are those who are stuck wishing they could relive the past. They miss the glory days of their hero- don't we all? But the difference is that they can't look ahead, they want to keep reliving someone else's fifteen minutes over and over again. What if we all decided to live like that? What if we decided that no one should try to become a legend, because surely nothing can shine as bright as the stars of yesteryear? 
     Alright, let's face it, we're all guilty of this at least once in our lives. But you can't live in a world that is no longer there- the point is that the impact is still there. There is no point in longing to bring back an era, a place, a person who is no longer here- gone, and no doubt leaving a lasting legacy, so tangible that it may become unbearable. Yes, nothing will ever be the same. But that doesn't mean something just as good won't come along- maybe even better. We'll never know if we decide that living with phantoms of a bygone age is enough.
     So please don't say that nothing will ever come close. This will only be true as long as we allow it to be. And don't ever try to tell us that we don't care.