They Don’t Write ‘Em Like That Anymore
Nukeboy1 has been blinded by the light. Well, sort of. He has taken up the guitar for the second time. The first time was 2 years ago when he was 8. This time he’s a little more serious about it. His turnabout can be explained in one compound word: Rockband. He got it for Christmas, and has been rockin’ out ever since. So much so that his guitar will only strum “up”, the “down” strum is broken. So, since the guitar doesn’t work properly anymore, he has picked up the drums. His buddies have Guitar Hero III or Rockband, and they talk about it endlessly. “Dude, I could so kick your butt on ‘Highway Star’”. “I nailed Weezer on EXPERT last night!” Overnight they are getting an education into old school music and what rock and roll really means.
The coolest thing for me about all of this, is that he is getting a glimpse of some of the music I grew up with. I’m obviously biased, but I think I grew up at the perfect time. I had my older sister, who turned me on to all kinds of music. Usually just by playing it in her room while I sat in the hallway outside her door; silently. Listening. Taking it all in. I learned about Moody Blues, Gino Vanelli, Carole King, Boz Skaggs, Chicago, Todd Rundgren and so many more. My brother got an 8 track stereo system for Christmas one year (Yes! I’m THAT old!), and I learned about Bachman Turner Overdrive, Led Zepplin, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller, The Doobie Brothers and the list goes on and on. Once I started my own collection, I soon left my older siblings in the dust as my collection grew and grew. In 1981 I bought my first stereo system. That same year my album collection grew to 300+ lp’s; much to my Father’s chagrin. He thought I should save my money for a car. I thought I needed to rock. By 1984 I had amassed over 450 lp’s and put a stereo system in my VW Bug that once caused my Father to walk out of the house, knock on my window, and tell me to “TURN THAT CRAP DOWN!” I had to smile after saying “Yes, sir”, and watching him walk back inside. He heard my car stereo (windows closed, no less) inside the house? Cool.
By the late 80′s my lp collection was north of 600 and my CD collection had blossomed to a little over 150. There was some duplicity there but, hey, you can’t buy the brand new CD technology and NOT buy The Wall. Sure, I had it on LP, but on CD it made me even more Comfortably Numb. I had a nearly photographic grasp of all music released from 1972 to about 1994. Albums, bands, who was in each band, what they played, what side a song was on, which number it was on that side, the year it was released, who wrote which song, on and on. My friends used to call me “Shrevie” after the character from “Diner“. I don’t think I was as fanatical as he was, but, then again….I could get lost for hours inside my favorite record store. I’d look for deals and bands that I could “discover” in the cut-out section. I’d scoff at those who only bought cassettes. Fools. I’d buy my own blank tapes and mix tape myself into a coma.
Nukeboy1 doesn’t have that same opportunity. The music he had been listening to before his “Rockband Epiphany” was the manufactured artists that all seem to sing on each others songs: T-Pain, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Timbaland, Flo Rida and many others. I’m not dissing these artists, and I’m not turning into an old fuddy-duddy; it’s just not my cup of tea. It pisses me off because kids today don’t have near the selection or choice that I had. Sure, you could say that I’m no different; that I’m a “victim” of what was being forced down my throat when I was a kid, but the difference is; I had more avenues to explore than American Idol and itunes. Record stores, bootleg tapes of up and coming bands, independent radio stations instead of “Clear Channel listen to what we tell you to listen to” stations. I had a choice.
Music has been, and always will be, subjective. Abortion, politics and music are three subjects that can garner the most emotion and fanaticism when debated. Of the three, music is the only one where you can at least find some common ground with someone who doesn’t share your point of view. You may think their Slim Whitman fetish is asinine, but they may scoff at your Black Sabbath affliction. If you both can share a beer over side 2 of Back In Black; then it’s all good. Sorry, I forgot we don’t have “sides” anymore.
Nukeboy1 has inundated me with questions the last week and a half on all things “Classic Rock”. I’ve shared as much as I know with him. His curiosity and quest for knowledge is mind numbing. Why can’t he tackle fractions like this? I already know the answer; for the same reasons I couldn’t. He’s got the fever. I did what any responsible parent should do; I dug out all of the CD’s and went through them with him. He picked out a starter stack of about 25 CD’s that he is presently working his way through. Little does he know that my list for him grows exponentially each day. I encourage each of you to do the same. Dig out the old albums, dust off the turntable, dig the cassettes out of the attic (if they haven’t melted) and let your kids discover the same way you discovered. Make suggestions, let them know that there are plenty of choices out there. The dialogue that it opens up may surprise you; and place you back on common ground.