Every generation has to deal with this one…one moment you are the cutting edge music head sneering at the old stuff and peering into the future. Older people don’t get your music and you rejoice in the generation gap and your own soundtrack. You are hip but writhing a couple of years you are trapped in your own small pocket of pop culture berating the modern world like a bug eyed crazy man and lost in your own portal of time and noise.
My punk rock peers were like this. We drew the line at the sixties. This was year zero and we were forging onwards towards post punk. Some say that the New York Dolls appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973 was the first generation gap in rock n roll, a point in time where you either got it or you didn’t- there have been many cultural fault lines since then that have defined a moment or been a catalyst for a future moment. Punk, when it arrived a couple of years after the Dolls TV appearance, was a brave new world and barriers were smashed, it was about going forwards but swiftly became its own past. This makes it all the more cautious now when some of the punk generation moan about music nowadays and how it all sounds the same, they claim there are no youth tribes anymore like there we ‘back in my day’ and expect pop culture to play by the same rules forever.
But surely that’s the beauty of music culture, it doesn’t play by your rules, it doesn’t play by my rules and for every article written in the quality press bemoaning lack of political/cutting edge or original music there are endless examples arguing against this. The Simon Reynolds book Retromania is a great example of this..it’s a brilliantly written book that makes the case for pop culture going backwards and endlessly reviving itslef instead of moving forwards, it doesn’t mention the fringe black metal scene, electronic music, post hardcore, music from outside the angle American axis or cutting edge pop and many other fractured corners of pop culture where music is moving fast into weird directions that come to influence the new digitally driven mainstream.
The question I like to ask myself is take a band like Muse, and this doesn’t matter whether you like them or not, but can you imagine their current album being made in the sixties, seventies or any other era? It sounds like now whether you like that now or you don’t
And that brings me back to the original point…when do we stop moving, at what age do we suddenly switch off from music and start becoming like our parents and moaning about music nowadays and berating its lack of originality, tribal dress sense, clarity of lyrics or noises that we feel comfortable with…when do we became the old generation stuck in our ways? When do we become our parents?