Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Music is a Generational Thing

Back in the day, we had a speaker at one of our professional development days. His entertaining and insightful presentation was You Are What You Were When. Without going into detail, the basic idea is that we are greatly influenced by the times (eg decade) of our development. A person who grew up the 30s would have been influenced differently than a 50s teenager and so on.

We recognize this intuitively now with baby boomers, millennials and Gen Xers and what have you (because I lose track). But the point is that there seem to be general characteristics that are unique to each cohort.

I think music really emphasizes generational differences and I thought of this as I was humming and going over lyrics in my head of He's the Lily of the Valley this morning. I have hardly darkened a church doorway for about half my life now and think the existence of a god-creator highly improbable, yet I often find myself replaying old hymns and gospels songs in my head. And I rather enjoy them.

In passing I present Willie Nelson's version of the song. Of course, I remember singing it with gusto in my little church back around 1960, and the lyrics stick hard to me these 60 years later.

And of course, I more or less lost touch with pop music after the early Beatles. Beyond that what I hear today, when I watch The Voice, for example, much of the music seems like awful stuff. What's with falsetto singing? Can you imagine Elvis using the head voice? And what happened to melody? For the most part, these songs are unsingable to me. As for lyrics, they cram so many words into their songs to the point where many of us can't make them out. And you pretty well have to have dancers cavorting in the background to create distract from the songs themselves.

But to the younger set, like my grands, and also my 46 year old daughter (who has always kept up), this is good stuff.

To wit: last night we were playing some true oldies such as The Everly Brothers, and they just about drove the kids up the wall.

To prove my point, Sue just came in as I was finding the link and said, this is real music.

When the kids are 70, will their current music evoke the same feelings as ours? It's hard for me to imagine, but probably.

To complete my ruminations here is a short clip of the You Are What You Were When guy, I heard him back in the late 70s or early 80s, but apparently, he's still going strong.

If you will excuse me now, I will continue to play my personal oldies over Echo for awhile longer and feel that sweet nostalgia. It's Stand By Me right now. Now, that's a song.


Jenn Jilks said...

Yes, you are the word play guy, but you inspired me! (My hubby is pretty fluent with puns.)
We agree with you on music. We watch these reality TV shows, as I figure it's a free concert, without the irritating screaming teens or cell phones in the audience.
The dancing is more along the lines of a burlesque show, too!
The falsetto is a bit strange.
The bells and whistles, and light shows are distracting, too.
Ah, the Everly Brothers!
That said, I just heard No Matter What, by Calum Scott. Not all of it is crap!

William Kendall said...

I tend to discover new music to me by searching out through the net, paying attention to reviews, that sort of thing. I haven't listened to radio in years- in part because I don't go for hip hop and what's become of pop these days, but more because the incessant chatter of DJs really irritates me.

Tabor said...

I went to church when I was in my 30s to give my children a Christian education. I have been to Catholic Mass a few times over the years as my son-in-law is Catholic. Organized religion works for many and that is fine as long as they do not beat the drum that it works for everyone. Music is a very personal experience. I was a big folk music fan in my youth. Today there do not seem to be messages, which is a disappointment to me. Reality shows are boring to me.

Joanne Noragon said...

I am so gone from the corporate world. I suppose motivational meetings still happen. We ran a good department in a good and kind company. After a while we were purchased by a similar company. Then a bigger fish bought them. Then a shark swallowed them, and so for and so on. The original little company (companies) were digested and shat out.It's a far more cruel world we live in.

Marie Smith said...

I always loved lyrics besides the beat of the music. I can’t hear lyrics any more. Still, watching young people, they get it! Aging ears don’t help I guess.

PipeTobacco said...


I can understand your sentiments about generational music. It is sometimes a "challenge".

My job has me hearing a fairly hefty dose of current music and always has because I allow my student researchers to listen to their music while working on many tasks in the lab. Much of it is as you suggest, but if you carefully search, there are pleasant things I find in most every age and genre. Sometimes it takes a while to find, however. :)

I like having my students listen to some of the diversity of music I enjoy too, and they often (after a spell) start to find it pleasant enough. :) They tend to find my fondness for Eric Dolphy a bit odd, however. :)


Vicki Lane said...

I am hopelessly stranded in the music of the Sixties...with a touch of Reggae, Celtic, and Bluegrass added on. And I'll listen to Stand By Me any time!