[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca – AC]
There are periods in life when you somehow know that you’re in the middle of something grand and world-altering. If you’re of a certain vintage, you’ll remember feeling that something was in the air musically when the calendar ticked over to 1991.
World events had a lot to do with it. Optimism was high as the Soviet Union was melting away and would be gone by the end of 1991, two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nelson Mandela was finally out of prison. And although most of us weren’t aware of it yet, the foundations of the World Wide Web had been laid.
On the other hand that year, there was a brutal worldwide recession, the hangover from the first Gulf War, and the beginnings of fighting in the Balkans which would last until the end of the decade.
There was also a dramatic demographic shift as Generation X, the children of the Baby Boomers, started to come of age. Although highly educated, the recession left them under-employed and fearful that they’d be the first generation in years not to achieve a standard of living better than their parents. This cohort was cynical and more than a little scared about their prospects. This is where music came in.
We’ll get to The Hip’s role in just a sec. Keep reading.