[This is from frequent contribute, Larry Lootsteen. I have a feeling this may resonate with music fans of, shall we say, a certain age. – AC]
I don’t know if you’ve ever run into this, but I periodically go through spells where there is little or no music that grabs me, inspires me, intrigues or makes me want to jump up and move. It usually only lasts a week or so and then something I click on or even hear on the radio (much rarer these days) breaks the spell. It’s a cycle I go through on a regular basis.
Lately I have remained in this rut. It seems like months since I was surprised or pleased beyond the norm. Don’t get me wrong. I hear music every day that I like. What I haven’t heard is that ‘back of the neck tingle’ that makes go ‘OH YEAH’! As an example I will use Weezer. I am not a huge Weezer fan but I do like their music a lot. They have a quirk that suits me. So when I saw they had a new song out, I thought “Here we go”!
Sadly that moment left me a rather bitter taste in my mouth. I played it. I thought “Huh”. Played it again. And again. I left it to the next day and played it some more. I know that some songs take a while to grow on you. Another day. Ummmmmmm…
Okay it’s a Weezer song that sounds like a Weezer song that sounds like every Weezer song. That may not be fair but that is how I feel and where I am. EVERYTHING sounds ordinary. Everything sounds like something else. Has the world run out of musical ideas? Are there no unique voices left? Is there no lyric that hasn’t been written and rewritten a thousand times? Is that where we are at?
I don’t believe it to be true but it feels that way. I am a U2 fan who has no faith their new album (Nov 4th (you wait and see!!) and Sept. single) will provoke any excitement out of me. I am a guy who thinks maybe Bono has been living the high life in the south of France too much and has lost touch with his roots and his passion. Prove me wrong. PLEASE. Has the Edge been so focused on the minutiae of his guitar work that he’s forgotten how to write the big song? Have they run out of steam?
Or is it just me?
All of this got me thinking about cycles. Not bicycles but music cycles.
We all know how this works. When we are kids we love sugar. That poppy, thick as syrup stuff that makes everyone else cringe. Then in our later teens we start discovering something deeper in our relationship with music. We start feeling the music more. The lyrics might have something that connects with us. I went through a not-so-unusual period of depression in my teens. Elton John’s ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight” played on repeat through this period. And when I bought my first stereo when I got my first part-time job I was listening to Pink Floyd and The Beatles on my turntable. New Wave hit and my tastes changed again. The weird and wonderful sounds of electronics but also the anger and exuberance of punk filled my bottomless pit of musical experience. This period generally lasts well into our 30’s.
When the kids come along, life changes. Priorities change. Music is still the soundtrack of our days and we still like a good blast now and again. We hold some influence over the kids as they grow. My girls all remember and love the song Da Da Da by Trio. They seem genuinely stunned that none of their friends today know it. Dad seemed much cooler back then no doubt! But kids reach an age and suddenly they have their own music (post kiddie-pop). For many, of these changes in style seem overly aggressive and sexual. Especially for a dad with daughters. And we adults rebel against rap and hip-hop and the sex that seems everywhere. What happened to the music scene?
It’s easy to forget isn’t it? How our parents cringed at The Sex Pistols. The fluid, angry sexuality of Rough Trade’s ‘High School Confidential’. Duran Duran’s parade of hotties in their videos. We are hypocrites aren’t we? It really is no different. Maybe a little more explicit at times but really the only thing that changed was us.
And the circle of our musical lives seem to follow this pattern. The easy sweet of kids music. The learning and exploration of the teens. The connection and growth of the 20’s and 30’s. The ease of staying with that genre and not really moving past it once we hit 40 (I have seen most of my age group either focus on the 80’s or digress into the 70’s and 60’s). The shock as parents suddenly realize that the kids today are angry and horny. It seems funny but looking backwards across generations, the pattern appears to be the same. The anger of parents at the swaying hips of Elvis and the screaming and fainting spells of Beatles fans. I have little doubt we could go back and find that parents thought that Chamber music was just crap and should be banned.
All this is my way of saying that the cycle continues. I hope my empty feeling is just part of the cycle. Music is like any relationship. Hate is part of love and maybe I am just in hate mode right now. The ebbs and flows are standard but every once in a while you find a period of extended lacking.
Maybe I should listen to ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ for old times’ sake.