Beer and Pavement

Young and Old

Posted in Manifesto by SM on February 11, 2010

A comment in my last post struck me. Longtime reader and taint haiku-ist Carrie had this to say1:

This is why I feel I have to fight so hard to be credible, because most of the people my age–quite frankly–listen to music with no reference points (also note: I had a moment of swelling pride today when a 40-something guy on one of the online forums I frequent told me my musical depth gives him hope)

Two things: 1) The fact that as a youngster, Carrie has to fight for credibility due to her generation’s inability to move beyond P4k and iTunes. 2) Carrie is not like her peers in that she has impressive “musical depth.”

First of all, Carrie doesn’t have to prove anything. A quick glance of her blog, Colossal Youth, and you’ll quickly realize that she has plenty of credibility. This is also proven by my second thing above. I’m glad that is out of the way.

What I wanted to get at is the fact that it’s way easier to have musical reference points when you’ve been at it as long as I have2. Of course I know Pavement, Brainiac3, Guided By Voices, and Archers of Loaf3. I lived those years. There was no work involved. I went to the club once or twice a week and saw some shows. The local record emporium kept me updated. There was very little work to it.

I don’t blame the young for not always knowing music’s history. It takes work4. I don’t know that I always put in the work to know newer bands these days. It’s OK.

On the other hand, I did do a lot of the work necessary to gain that point of reference. I loaded up on quintessential albums in the used section at Used Kids5. I’ve read the books and magazine articles. I put in my time to learn about the trajectory of music. It’s not easy, but it’s totally worth it.

There’s no excuse with Google and Wikipedia and whatever not to know about music’s past. It’s easier than it used to be. Someone name-drops Lydia Lunch. You run over to Wikipedia and search it out to find that she was a pioneer of No Wave and has deep connections with Sonic Youth. It’s really not that hard.

Of course, we older folk can’t expect younger generations to know about our music if we don’t teach them. Take this evening. I had a conversation with a friend about the indie scene in Ohio back in the nineties6. It got some wheels in my head spinning. I put on some Guided By Voices while I fed and bathed my daughter. I sang and danced to the music and taught her a new word: Ohio. Her indie rock education began a long time ago, but this was the beginning of another conversation over Ohio’s contribution to music.

This does not leave out the young people. They have to hold old cranks like myself by the hand and tell us about new bands so that we don’t fall behind7. Of course, an exchange between young and old is always necessary to advance thought, even in music.

Anyways, Carrie’s comment made me think and think some more is what I’ll do.

There are more angles to look at this topic. Take beer, for instance. Kids know how to get shit-faced and have a good time no matter how terrible the beer tastes. Older beer drinkers know what tastes good and how to get the same effect out of three beers as opposed to twelve.

I have always felt that I’ve had a lot to learn from those younger than I, but they can learn from me as well. So, that’s where this blog fits in. I don’t have many readers at the moment, but I know someone will glean something worthwhile from my words at some point.

What do you think? What can we learn from each other? What have you learned from folks younger/older than yourself?

1In her comment footnotes no less!
2I was one of those kids affected by Nirvana. I smelled of the teen spirit. I grew up in grunge and the early days when hardcore transformed into lo-fi which later became the all-encompassing indie.
3If these boys are too obscure for you, look ’em up. Buy something today. I’ll wait.
4Although I always prided myself at understanding from where a band came or their influences, I can’t say I always put in the necessary work to truly get a band.
5If you’ve never been, it’s really worth the trip to Columbus, OH.
6Yes, we had a scene. Guided By Voices, The Breeders, Afghan Whigs, Brainiac, Gaunt, New Bomb Turks, etc.
7Or we could just read some blogs.

11 Responses

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  1. carriethewade said, on February 11, 2010 at 5:52 am

    I’m always a little bit envious of the past generations for the musical movements they have been around for, and I think that can be a common disorder of my generation–nostalgia for times we’ve missed because of age–and it’s particularly a problem for people who think that the 1960s is the end all be all of musical reference points. But a helluvalot happens in between and before that is just as important, particularly when contextualizing the more esoteric contemporary music that is becoming more en vogue as of recent.

    Of course your position assumes music as a sharing experience, which it is for most people, but only until recently it hasn’t been for me (thanks, blog!). This might explain my anomalous breadth–music used to be strictly personal, and a learning experience because for a long time I hardly felt I had anyone to relate to musically (but then there was this malkmus show and I met some dudes and that unleashed a beast that had been mulling over a lot for a long time). But I still find it difficult to discuss music with people–it’s something that requires gaining the trust of someone–to know that he/she will respect my opinions and be honest about stuff. I also try not to be “that person” who blitzkriegs names, because for all my depth, I really just know a little bit about a lot of things (though these are often more obscure things like sacred harp music and country hill bluesmen) and do lots of research.

    unrelated: I went to Columbus over the summer and had one of the best weekends ever (with my brother’s friend and some of her pals). We didn’t get to stop by Used Kids, unfortunately–but we did have some garage sale adventures in the victorian neighborhood, ate at the brown bag in germantown, and went to the big artfest down by the art school. I got really excited when I found a place in downtown Champaign that serves Jeni’s Ice cream (with cupcakes). Oh yeah, and there was a zombie convention in town (saw the parade).

  2. builderofcoalitions said, on February 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    What I found is that the music your experiencing now will become the movement of the past. Your Pavement might be Atlas Sound where my Pavement was someone’s Replacements (or, more accurately, The Fall). Regardless, you encapsulated a lot at what I was getting at in your comments, the sharing and contextualization and whatnot.

    On the unrelated…C-bus is a good place. It’s sad that I’ll never be able to live there again. (At least not until we retire and even then it will be to Seattle.) Victorian Village has some great garage sales. We used to have a shit-ton of furniture from the neighborhood of gays living in Victorian mansions furnished to the ceiling with authentic pieces waiting to be sold on the curb. Jeni’s comes as far as Champaign?!? Maybe we won’t have to ship it here anymore.

  3. doublewordscore said, on February 11, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Your post reminded me of this thoughtful post from Duran Duran’s bassist about how more access to music might not be a good thing:

    It also reminded me of another post which I can’t find right now, so I’ll link to this one instead. It’s about how Zac Braff is killing rock music:

    • builderofcoalitions said, on February 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm

      Those are interesting points. This topic may deserve more exploration. Thanks, doublewordscore! I do have to admit to my mid-eighties crush on John Taylor (I bought Power Station on cassette tape) and I don’t think Zac Braff did anything any other bro isn’t already doing on a smaller scale. Folks flocking to the Shins only after Braff passed his headphones to Padmé is a symptom of laziness on the music listerner’s part. Again, you’ve made me consider where to go next with this topic.

  4. doublewordscore said, on February 11, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Maybe you could take it in the “who’s more annoying–Zac Braff or the girl in Garden State?” direction. It’s very off topic, but I’d throw in my two cents.

    I’m curious how a glut of musical information affects how people process the medium. Fifteen years ago, I was making a financial investment when I bought an album. Since $ was involved, I had a limited amount of music to focus on. If I was starting up a music collection today, I’m guessing it wouldn’t take up nearly as much money or physical space. Even if I was able to give an album the same number of listens then and now, would the change in means of acquisition affect how I perceived the music as well? That is, how differently would I perceive Summerteeth (my favorite album) differently if I’d gotten it in 2010 instead of 1999?

    • builderofcoalitions said, on February 11, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      Damn you! You’re giving me too much to think about and I have a load of work to do. This is definitely a topic worth exploring.

      I’m talking about the Zach Braff vs. Natalie Portman debate, of course. Braff is charmingly goofy like a frat boy date rapist, while Portman reminds me of the girl in high school we all lusted over and thought was hot even though she never gave us the time of day, had a drinking problem at 14, and liked “all kinds” of music. This is a tough one.

      • carriethewade said, on February 11, 2010 at 10:18 pm

        Is anyone else interested in how Garden State is pretty much a High school movie even though it’s about grown ass adults (who coincidentally all still live with their parents for the msot part)? I think its because of the level of how easy it is to understand these “deep things” which really aren’t so deep but rather bathetic moments (catching a tear in a paper cup? Really?) about our complicated lives, but represented in absurdly simple ways that don’t even begin to encompass the complications of existence. It implies that love is quick and easy, and everything’s an adventure when your washed-up, strung-out old friend is around, and that feeling things is always a good thing so long as there’s a sentimental soundtrack to accompany these autumnal events.

        eh…portman’s just an actress out to prove how “quirky” she can be. I guess they thought that by putting her in a hoodie, making her hair long and poofy, and giving her epilepsy and a compulsive lying problem that she would somehow have “personality”. I got the feeling that she would be more akin to that boring girl who was pretty average academically and socialy who got into “indie” when she went to the local community college and met some kids in her poetry workshop who were “real authentic” and gave her music that changed her life so she could pay it forward.

  5. carriethewade said, on February 11, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I also prepared a long rant on how it’s totally cool to be into weird looking/plain dudes because of woody allen, but this will likely never be the case for women. I will save this for another time.

  6. builderofcoalitions said, on February 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Carrie, I think you’re dead-on here.

    However, I think the luxury and entitlement of high school has stretched to those early-to-mid-twenties due to many factors. Each generation tries to make things easier for the next, but what we’ve done is created this generation (even generations if you go back as far as the so-called Gen X) of people who haven’t had to struggle for anything. Well, they haven’t had to struggle until now. The Boomers are bankrupting (culturally, socially, environmentally, not just financially) their kids by providing for all their needs and wants.

    So, what ‘Garden State’ actually represents is this generation of people not having to work for shit and suddenly finding themselves in a situation where they do have to work for everything. It’s not a high school movie. The high school mentality has just stretched beyond 18 and infects 20-somethings waiting for Mommy and Daddy to pay their bills and think for them.

    Portman is just an actress. I wasn’t suggesting that she is what guys want. Rather, I think she’s what 15-year-olds think they want. Or, if you go along with my logic above, she’s what 20-somethings still living a high school existence think they want.

    The Woody Allen thing is a solid point as well. I’ve often noticed this trend in media but just figured it was good old fashioned sexism.

    A meme is developing for sure…

  7. doublewordscore said, on February 12, 2010 at 1:21 am

    I’m going with ZB being more irritating than NP on this one.

    NP is annoying, don’t get me wrong, but Mr Braff obviously intended the protag to be semi autobiographical (and Natalie P his fantasy grrl), which makes him as a writer all the more pathetic.

    • carriethewade said, on February 12, 2010 at 6:47 am

      I can support this, wholeheartedly. Zach Braff’s movie making here is pretty masturbatory.

      NP isn’t just his fantasy girl…she’s his manic pixie dream.

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