Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I just wasn't made for these times

I don't make a point of reading the comments on YouTube, but while I was digging through it for old music videos, I noticed two strains of thought emerging around the common theme "they don't make 'em like they used to".

Predictably, one set of commenters were reveling in nostalgia. They wrote how the music of that era was so much better and how these songs take them back to times when things were perfect in their own way. Keep in mind that I was mostly looking at music videos of the 1980s, although some were from the '90s. In other words, these are not people who are on the porch in the rocking chairs reflecting on the good ol' days...or they shouldn't be. (Also, the '80s wasn't exactly an easy, carefree decade.)

Clearly I'm not immune to the allure of nostalgia. What was I doing but clicking on videos for songs I haven't heard in ages. Granted, my interest was more in hearing with new ears what was once familiar. (The same idea is behind my current kick of watching pop cinema of the '80s and early '90s.) Nevertheless, it's impossible to do that without triggering memories. But people--and I'm speaking to my generation--must we already be resigning ourselves to cementing our cultural tastes and wistfully recalling high school?

The other set of commenters were teens wishing they were growing up during that time when the music was good, etc. What's funny to me is that '80s pop culture was not particularly well thought of at the time. I do feel like I can say it is not considered a rich time for rock music.

I suppose this way of thinking is common enough. I knew people in high school who pined for life in the '60s, which, you know, also had its share of social upheaval and other stuff that might take the shine off it.

For those who believe the pop culture of their youth was the last gasp of creative excellence, chances are they're reliving it through a rose-colored prism and forgetting about all the garbage or that they didn't like it quite as much as they recall. For those who believe the pop culture of a time before theirs is superior to anything done now, they can't see the forest for the trees. They're living through the sorting and canonization for their time rather than approaching it after it has been settled. People talk about the golden age of Hollywood or the early days of rock and roll. Guess what? There's plenty from those eras that no one gives a second thought to and for good reason.

Now excuse me while I go look up videos for pop songs I learned how to play on piano when I was in grade school.

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